In recent years, the trends suggested that the corporate world was heading in the digital direction. Online internships are also a product of this digital transition. Indeed, lots of entities have embraced online internships and virtual employment opportunities, including Amazon, Bloomberg, Lloyd's, IBM and Sky.
Industry leaders have been experimenting with everything from e-learning platforms to engaging in digital networking sessions as part of efforts to emulate the in-person internship experience. It is safe to say that online internships are here to stay - permanently.
While virtual internships can be quite different from traditional internships, they give students and young graduates from around the world the opportunity to attain valuable experience in leading companies worldwide.
So where do you begin? We have compiled a breakdown on how to find and apply for online internships.
1. Utilise different online platforms
An increasing number of companies are now offering virtual internships. However, in order to explore all these available opportunities, you first need to know where to look.
Not sure where to begin? Utilise these platforms to kickstart your search for online internships:
- Job portals: A simple Google search will yield many results for internship portals. Sites such as Zip Recruiter, Internships.com and InternQueen are amongst the most trustworthy sites that'll aid you with your search.
- LinkedIn: The website has transformed from a social media arena for professionals into a tremendous resource for employment and internship opportunities. A lot of companies take advantage of LinkedIn to find and hire interns by utilising their pages and promoting their job boards. If you don't already, it is highly recommended that you create a LinkedIn accountand update your profile regularly.
- Social media: In addition to LinkedIn, many of the big social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, are great tools for finding internships or getting discovered by others. On Facebook, for example, you could join internship groups that are dedicated in your field. Just a word of advice: Be careful of what you post! Some companies also post about online opportunities on their social media channels, so keep an eye out for them!
- Online portfolio and blog: In today's world, you are your own brand. What is the best way to sell your brand? By starting a blog or a portfolio pagethat highlights your human capital, from education to skills to accolades. With the right SEO strategy, you could ensure your blog gets found on search engines. That said, a blog can also be useful when applying for internships because the hiring managers can get a detailed look at your work history and material.
- Career fairs: Career fairs are an excellent resource for finding internships – online and offline. Plus, you can participate in face-to-face interaction and sell yourself through this act. There also online career fairs you can attend, so start by seeking these out first.
- Local career centre: If you live in a large city, chances are there are plenty of career centres in your area. These are outlets housed by government agencies and non-profit organisations to help connect you to an internship and other positions. By visiting a local career centre, you might be able to find great opportunities and tap into internships that others may not have been able to find.
2. Contact companies about possible internships
Unfortunately, some firms may not post any advertisements online, or they may not attend career fairs. That said, it doesn't mean they aren't looking for interns. Some businesses may already be inundated with applications, so they find it unnecessary to post any ads. Therefore, why not try cold calling?
If there is a business that you are interested in working for, you can always call or email and inquire if they are taking on any interns. You don't need to call the entire Yellow Book, but it would be great for you to contact a business you always dreamt of working for, even if it is only for a summer or for a semester.
3. Build an impressive CV
A CV is a standard requirement for internship applications. Even if you do not have enough work experience, it's essential to put together a neat, entry-level CV. This is your opportunity to showcase your initiative by highlighting volunteer experience, skills and club memberships at school.
Another critical CV component is your references. Be it a teacher, a mentor, a coach or a former employer – there are many people who could give you a reference and help you land an internship by highlighting your achievements, skills and experience.
Don't forget to pair your CV with a neat and constructive cover letter. While cover letters can be tricky, they are usually essential for any job application and can play a significant role in your selection and hiring.
Your cover letter should briefly state what motivated you to apply, and highlight your experience, interests and value as an intern. Don't forget to tailor your documents to every company individually.
4. Apply to online internship opportunities
When you do come across an online internship, you will need to go through all the proper channels for applying; everything from filling in a form to submitting your CV. It is important that you read the terms, conditions and instructions regarding the application process before putting forward your candidacy for the online position.
If you are using a website like LinkedIn to apply for an online internship, you will go through the website's protocols. Meanwhile, if you found the opening on a job board, use the provided contact information to send over your CV, cover letter and other personal information.
5. Prepare for online interviews
Most interviews are now conducted on video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype, but that does not mean you should not prepare as you would for any face-to-face interview. It is the same old process: get ready for specific questions, act and dress in a professional manner and be on time. Also, with online interviews, it's crucial to ensure that you have natural lighting, excellent audio and good video quality. Small tip: make sure to sustain eye contact with your interviewers instead of staring at your video monitor throughout the interview.
6. Emphasise your role during interviews
You are competing with dozens of other applicants, so what makes you so special? It is your job as a candidate to emphasise your role with the organisation. What do you bring to the table? How will you leave a mark? What is your goal for this online internship?
It's important to highlight your strengths and provide factual evidence that will distinguish you from other candidates. The more memorable you are as a candidate, the more likely a recruiter is to remember you and offer you the online internship.
7. Send a follow-up email
In the end, it is critical that you send a follow-up email, thanking the interviewer for considering your application and taking their time to interview you. This is a class act, and it could potentially help you stand out from the crowd. How you conduct yourself before and during an internship could help you turn this online internship into a full-time position once it's over.
It's also beneficial to briefly mention your motivation for this online internship one more time, as well as what you can bring to the company if you are selected.
Internships continue to be a valuable experience for students and graduates in any field. They provide on-the-job training and real-world experience that can be difficult to achieve in a classroom setting.
Like everything else in society, internships are evolving, and a virtual internship can provide a sneak-peek into remote work once you start your career. This is ostensibly the new normal, and an online internship will be a great stepping stone for your personal and professional development.
Have you got any tips for landing an online internship? Share them with us in the comments section below!