Possible disadvantages that come with a remote internship include missed opportunities to network with colleagues face to face, learn office etiquette and develop interpersonal skills. Potential interns, as well as colleges and universities that give academic credit for internships, also may have a more difficult time vetting whether a virtual internship offer is reputable or will provide meaningful educational or career-experience.
Bill McCarthy, associate director for Binghamton University’s Career Development Center, which administers most for-credit internships at Binghamton University through its Academic Internship Program, said that 566 students had CDCI postings in the 2012-13 school year, about 15 percent of whom interned outside of Binghamton. Most of these students spent a semester physically interning in places like New York City, Albany or elsewhere around the country. He said CDCI did not include any virtual internships this year.
“Whether it’s virtual or in person, a student during the interview process should always be asking questions about what are the job responsibilities, what work will I be doing, will this help me in my career of choice?” McCarthy recommended. “It behooves anyone during the interview process to learn about what they’re getting themselves into.”
Rubin said she was formerly “wary in general” of remote internships because of their lack of person-to-person interaction. But the path to her internship with Acitv8Social, which she now describes in very enthusiastic terms, was paved by a chance meeting with one of the company’s co-founders.
“I was coming back from a conference in Baltimore,” Rubin said. “I sat down on the train next to [Activ8Social co-founder] Anthony Catonipi. I was talking to my friend across the aisle about how she should apply for an internship she was afraid she wouldn’t get. Anthony just started laughing. He said that’s really good advice. And we got to talking for the next 2 ½-hour ride back to Manhattan … The next day I connected with him on LinkedIn, and a couple days later they were offering me an internship.”