Pros & Cons Of Online Internships For Students

Online internships are much like traditional internships. Students work with a manager on a project to build skills and gain experience.

Digital technology has caused major disruptions across various sectors, dramatically changing the way students navigate the college experience. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic is revolutionising the way we work. Work from home that began as a rescue from the crisis is being seen as the next big thing. It is now a societal experiment on a scale never tested before. A few years ago, most employers would have balked at the idea of employees regularly working from home, major concerns being the loss of productivity and lack of communication technology and internet access. However, because of technological advances over the years, remote working is producing effective results in many organizations. 

With the internet revolutionizing the education sector, learning has become more convenient for students with the availability of online courses, study groups and career fairs. Internships are also becoming virtual now. 

Online internships are much like traditional internships. Students work with a manager on a project to build skills and gain experience. The difference is that students, in this case, work remotely, communicating and interacting with the manager over the internet. Like other types of telecommuting, online internships are currently more popular with industries and companies that are well equipped with technology. 

Internships are Important 

Internships are a critical part of college programmes and also mandatory by a few to gain practical exposure. They help students make connections, build skills, and provide them with real-world experience before heading out into their chosen field. In recent years, many organisations, educational institutions, and students have begun to take advantage of the convenience offered by online internships. Just as with any opportunity, online internships have both positive and negative aspects. 


1. Flexibility 

The most obvious benefit is the opportunity to work from the comfort of their homes. With a stable internet connection and a device, students can work from a place of their choice, unrestricted by geographic boundaries. One does not need to be constrained by a typical 9-5 office day and is free to set his/her own time frames and schedules. Online internships may result in better productivity and higher efficiency as students are free to work at their own comfort away from the hassle of commuting. 

2. Larger Pool 

This is a benefit for both the intern and the employer. An intern can work for a company that is located far away from his/her home without the hassle of shifting to that place. It enables the students to choose from a pool of opportunities with minimum restrictions. An employer or a company can put up applications for an online internship and select interns from responses that they get from the prospective candidates. As there is no location restriction, the employer receives applications not only from students who are in the vicinity but from all over the place. The employer can hire the aptly qualified intern and a better fit for the work. 

3. Better Familiarity with Technology 

In addition to the skills, knowledge and experience that one gain from an online internship, it also provides an opportunity for the intern to expand his/her knowledge of technical tools. Increasingly, employers expect candidates for a job to have basic knowledge of various technology and communication programmes. Given that, an online internship prepares one for the future corporate environment. 

 4. More efficient and productive  

A work from home internship proves to be more productive as compared to office internship as there is less time spent on travel and chats as compared to that with an office internship. According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year. One of the most effective ways workers can stay productive is by taking breaks throughout the day. Moreover, as online internships discount students on travelling time, they can manage it alongside their college and other commitments.  


1. Absence of Office Environment 

The absence of a real office environment in an online internship is a real problem amidst all the benefits it delivers. Though the intern gets to work from the comfort of his/her home, he/she does not get the knowledge of how corporate setup works. There is lesser exposure to company culture and work ethics. For an employer, it is difficult to track the work of remote interns resulting in less effective supervision. When an intern is regularly coming to the work-site, it is easier for the employer to supervise and keep track of the work and also, guide the intern as and when required. 

 2. Technical Glitches 

Work from home or remote work is largely dependent on video conferencing, emails and virtual meetings which require a good internet connection. Therefore, technology is the key criteria to make an online internship a success. If one has poor internet connection or not well equipped with technology, online internships might not work well for them. 

 3. No office mentorship 

Work from home is largely independent work with only telephonic or online interaction with the manager whereas an office environment opens up space for interaction with many networks and connections working at the site. Real mentorship starts at a company when an employee sees the intern stuck at a task, he is now a pro at and helps him/her develop skills at the task. However, at a work from home internship, the intern has to figure the problem and fix it on his own with probably online help only. 

Concluding thoughts 

Of course, COVID-19 presents an unprecedented challenge for hiring teams across the globe. Organisations, big or small, are adjusting their early talent-hiring processes. As companies adjust to remote work and adapt an all-virtual hiring model, students are also adapting to online internships.  

However this process will take time and initial teething issues will get ironed out in the next few months, perhaps leading to cost savings and a new normal. For example, a big part of adjusting to the corporate environment is developing self-motivation and the ability to work independently. Interns will be forced to do this as they work from home. Those who can adjust and get their work done without constant supervision will be able to succeed and thrive in this new model. Their stipend will go a long way as they don’t have to spend on commuting and eating out. Companies will find that their cost per intern might reduce as their fully loaded costs come down. Those organizations who can figure out how to effectively manage remote interns and achieve productive output might prefer this option and not go back to in-person internships even after the current situation is resolved.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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