Making the Most Out of an Online Internship

By Kaitlin Hurtado on December 8, 2018

College students and internships often go hand-in-hand. Internships allow you to get the job experience you need for your career, all while pursuing your degree. These internships and their details can vary greatly: paid versus unpaid, college credit, or in-person versus online. An online internship may seem a little obscure at first, how are you able to get the experience you need from the comfort of your own home?

Depending on what you make out of an online internship, it is fairly easy to take advantage of an online internship and the advantages it will present to you. Think of an online course — it isn’t any less real than your typical lecture where you have to get up and go to a lecture hall or classroom. An online internship works the same way, you won’t be there in person, but you are still gaining knowledge and getting an opportunity to learn more, just in a different way. If you are wondering how you can make the most out of an online internship, here are some ways that you can maximize the benefits of your online internship:


Embrace the flexible hours

One of the biggest advantages of pursuing an online internship is the opportunity to have more flexible hours. You will not have to factor in commute time – traffic with or without carpool, or planning around the bus schedules – when the majority of the internship can be completed within the comfort of your own living space. Not having to commute will allow you to work around your online internship’s deadlines while taking advantage of when you are most productive, or when you have the most free time.

If you are a morning person, you can get all of your internship work done by the time you have to leave for an afternoon class or closing shift for your part-time job. On the other hand, if you are a night person, you can spend late hours into the night completing tasks for your online internship, which is something you can’t do with a typical internship as most workplaces would be closed off-hours.

Being able to work flexible hours in an online internship will also allow you to fit internship work around your established schedule that you can’t get out of – academic classes, extracurricular organizations and clubs, or shifts at your part-time job(s). An online internship, for the most part, will allow you more control of your own work hours (outside of schedule Skype calls, phone meetings, etc.).

Make an effort to communicate with your boss and coworkers

When most online internships do not require you to visit an office for the majority of your time working there, or at all, one of the bigger questions you may have is how you are supposed to establish a network with your colleagues if you do not see them on a regular basis. The power of the internet isn’t just in the flexibility of your online internship, but also in the way that it allows you to engage with colleagues you will not be able to see on a regular basis. Make sure you are taking advantage of networking sites like LinkedIn, where you can connect with your company colleagues and establish a network to touch back on.

Online communication is key, so respond to emails or phone calls promptly. These can come in the form of quick check-ins with your boss to show progress or ask questions, or going to colleagues for help or to get to know each other. The amount of communication with your colleagues will depend on the type of online internship you end up pursuing – some will have you doing weekly Skype calls with your work colleagues, while others will have you working by yourself for most of the time, if not all the time.

Do not let the idea of missing out on a networking opportunity make you skip out on an online internship because it is something you can eventually work toward.

Take initiative and ask for feedback when you can

You may think that taking part in an online internship will take away the opportunity to get hands-on job experience, but that isn’t always the case with an online internship. You are still assigned tasks and will have expectations placed on you, and you will have guidelines and protocol just like you would at any other job or internship.  You won’t have constant eyes on you from your supervisor or colleagues, so it may be easy to go “off-task” or avoid your responsibilities until the last minute, but that is something you definitely do not want to do in an online internship.

Be prepared to take initiatives and be on the lookout for new opportunities, whether it be taking on an extra assignment or two each week, or accepting a new responsibility when you get the opportunity to. When you do not have a supervisor to constantly report to, you may also want to check in with them without being asked to. Ask for feedback on your recent performance, or ask for different resources you can use to improve on your next task.

An online internship is definitely not your typical type of internship, but you can take steps to make it a just as valuable experience.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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