Remote Internship Pro’s and Con’s

July 30, 2020

During the current health and economic crisis that has enveloped the world, more students are looking for ways to gain international experience and reduce the cost of an internship abroad. One of the ways to do so is by taking a remote internship.

A remote internship involves undertaking a placement in an organisation virtually – carrying out tasks for the organisation from another physical location. This can be as close as just down the road (when social distancing rules are in place) or on the other side of the world (when borders are closed or you have other reasons for not being able to travel).

Remote internships are an increasingly popular option. To help you learn more about them, we’ve unpacked their advantages and disadvantages below.

The Pro’s

The cost of travel, accommodation, meals, and insurance can be prohibitively expensive, particularly for those doing internships on a voluntary basis. But a remote internship allows you to cut these costs dramatically. You’ll only be paying a placement fee to the organisation who finds the internship for you – not a cent more.

A remote internship usually allows you to work your schedule around the internship. You generally need to be available for online meetings, but otherwise you have a lot more freedom in organising your time. You can complete work tasks around your job, study, or vacation schedule.

On a remote internship, all you need is WIFI and a place to work, so you can move around during your internship. You could work from your favourite coffee shop, a beach house, or a share space in Bali – the world is your oyster.

Embrace the new normal
Covid-19 has brought about a ‘new normal’ in the way of work. As they’ve shifted to working from home, companies have learnt how to manage and train employees remotely. Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Monday have made remote working efficient and easy – and they’re now widespread. As a result, interns can trust that remote internships will be just as seamless as in-person placements.

Remote working skills are in demand
Increasingly employers are looking for proof that you can work independently and to deadlines. When you intern remotely, you’ll develop into a motivated self-starter who can organise your own schedule to meet deadlines, which will serve you well in future jobs.After all, there’s no hiding when you login to your meeting and don’t have your part of the project completed.

The Con’s

As most of a remote internship will be project-based work, you’ll get less opportunity to observe business in practice and learn non-verbal cues and in-person communication skills.

A lot of friends for life are made in the workplace and being a remote intern means you’ll not be involved in the social aspect of a role, such as after work drinks or team events. However, meeting your colleagues online will set you up for future meetings, and help develop your network of professional contacts.

New skills
It can be much more difficult for managers to teach you new skills from a distance, and they expect remote interns to already have some understanding of how to undertake certain tasks. For this reason, we don’t recommend remote internships to those who haven’t already done some work or study in the relevant area. Remote internships are best suited to those interested in honing their skills in a practical work environment, rather than picking up entirely new skills.

Limited areas
Some placements are just not possible remotely, typically roles that require you to be present in person (such as working as a veterinarian, teacher, or tour guide). However, we do offer some very creative remote internships, including assisting real estate agents as they sell online, and remote classroom teaching. As remote becomes the new normal, the opportunities are continually expanding.

Time zones
If you’re in London and your remote internship is with a company in New Zealand that also has team members in Boston, you may have some early mornings or late nights to make all your meetings. However, host organisations are generally very accommodating of remote interns, so nothing unreasonable will be asked of you!