By Emily Zerrenner
Virtual internships can sound great and tempting in theory. You’re able to set your own hours and work from home in your pajamas, if you really wanted to. For those of us who are introverted, it sounds like a dream to not have to communicate face-to-face when working. The projects get turned in online. All this can be done from the couch or even your bed – no car or gas needed.
Don’t be fooled by how comfortable this sounds: virtual internships are hard work, perhaps even more so than a more “traditional” internship where you report to a workspace.
Virtual internships require you to become a time management master. It is all too easy to let the hours slide by if you happen to be at home — suddenly a deadline is closer than expected and you have to put in a few hours of feverish working to get it done. In order to be truly successful in a virtual internship, you have to schedule out time to do your work. It becomes like any other job. It doesn’t have to be the same time every week, but specific time does need to be set aside to achieve your goals and finish projects. Don’t say, “I’ll do it Wednesday,” but rather “I’ll work from 10am to 2pm on Wednesday.”
Although the option is there to work from home, I have found in my past virtual internship and my current hybrid one that I just don’t work well in my home environment. There are too many distractions and things I could do — I suddenly get motivation to clean, do the dishes, etc. I work best when I am not completely comfortable. I go to places like the library, a coffee shop, or even empty classrooms to settle into my work. This will depend on you and your preferences, but others I have talked to need a change of scenery to help them work.
This is not to say that virtual internships aren’t worth the effort; they most definitely are. They teach you self-discipline as you put in the hours and you’ll become well-versed in the art of the email. However, they are just like any other internship — they’re hard work.