Virtual Internships Are On the Rise
One of the most hampering aspects of online learning is that it hinders a student's ability to score an internship or work-study position that offers them work experience in their field of study. While many students work in their field while also earning their degree online, many others are not able to work in their field and are unable to be set up with an internship position due to the fact that their online school is half a country away from their home.
However, recent reports say that online internships are on the rise, and this may be a viable alternative for students of online schools to gain some real-world experience online as well as a degree. According to Market Watch:
Virtual internships mirror what is going on in the rest of the work force -- specifically, the increasing amount of workers who telecommute, said Peg Hendershot, director of Career Vision, a career consulting service based in Glen Ellyn, Ill. The trend also parallels the increase in distance learning through online college classes, she added.
As seen in online coursework, there's a tendency for greater accountability in offsite internships, where meeting goals is more important than logging hours, Hendershot said.
Another benefit of doing an internship offsite is that the work often can be tackled any time of day. An intern in a dorm room might work into the wee hours of the morning on internship tasks; the flexibility is often attractive to interns taking a full load of courses or working another job. A virtual internship also can give students a taste of what it's like to manage projects and nurture business relationships when their desks aren't confined by cubicles.
While a virtual internship may sound like a dream come true, it does come with some disadvantages. Some employers insist that students are missing out on vital tasks of a job by never spending a day in the office. Additionally, students are missing out on the day to day communication that takes place in an office environment.