Considering a remote internship for the first time? Remote internships have become immensely popular since 2020 and for very good reasons as there are tons of benefits to these programs. Before you decide, consider the pros and cons to ensure remote internships are something you can handle.
Are Remote Internships Worth It?
Yes, they can be worth it, but it depends on your personal goals and circumstances. You can expect numerous advantages upon securing remote work.
An extremely valuable benefit of remote internships is the accessibility it offers. For individuals with disabilities or those who live in areas that are too remote to find proper work — or even new parents — this is a way for them to take on internships that may not have been accessible otherwise.
Remote internships remove barriers to participation, providing greater access to professional development opportunities for everyone.
Remote internships are flexible
Remote programs offer flexibility in managing work schedules, which is especially useful for those who need to balance work with other commitments such as school or family responsibilities. With remote internships, you have the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time, as long as you meet your deadlines.
You save money
By not having to travel or eat out for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, you end up saving quite a lot of money. If you’re a student who cannot afford to spend a lot of money on transportation and other expenses, remote internships are an excellent option.
Diversity becomes the norm
Remote internships often rely on a diverse talent pool to keep things going, making diversity the norm. This expands opportunities for interns around the world, allowing them to work with companies and on projects they may not have been able to otherwise.
As a remote intern, you can look forward to working with companies and people from all over the world, which can broaden your perspective and provide valuable networking opportunities. It’s a great way to exchange cultures and ideas and boost your personal growth.
Your office is your own
This is a sweet deal as you get to personalise your work environment. You can set up a standing desk or grab your cat to keep you company — no problem! In fact, it could lead to better focus and productivity as you’ll have more control over your surroundings. Remote internships can increase productivity ‘
Owl Labs’ research states that working remotely can increase productivity by up to 77%, which is significant. So, create a workspace that suits your needs and preferences so you can stay focused and motivated.
More opportunities for growth
As more and more companies adopt remote or hybrid work models, having experience working remotely can be a valuable asset when searching for future full-time job opportunities. Remote internships also allow individuals to develop and showcase their skills in a remote setting. This is a great addition to your repertoire.
For those from diverse backgrounds and locations, remote work is a way to break into new markets and regions. This can seriously improve your professional network and skill set and help you develop your career.
Work-life balance is better
Remote work means you can strive for a better work-life balance. You have the choice to work from anywhere, and even at any sensible time during the work day. Additionally, you’ll have more control over your schedule which is beneficial if you have family commitments or health issues. You just need to be careful that the “life” part doesn’t overtake the “work” aspect.
Challenges you may face
While remote internships have no shortage of advantages, there are also a few challenges — especially for those who lack prior work experience. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for a remote internship. It’s up to you to decide if these programs are something you can handle at the moment.
Remote internships require access to specific technologies. This may include basic items such as a personal computer or laptop and reliable internet connectivity. Depending on the field, it could include more complicated software and hardware.
If you can’t access the required technology, you may face significant challenges in completing your tasks, which could land you in hot water. For example, graphic designers may need to purchase design software or request their employers to do so. While it isn’t always complicated, smaller companies on a tight budget may struggle with the latter.
Speaking of technical requirements, the other problem is that technical issues such as internet connectivity or software problems are inevitable. This can be quite frustrating. The onus falls on you to ensure that all your equipment is up-to-date and functioning properly regularly.
You need to be proactive
Proactivity is a must! If you want to show that you’re invested, you need to take the lead on certain things and participate actively. Take the initiative to communicate with your team members if there are any problems, highlight solutions to problems you’ve noticed, and keep everyone updated.
There’s less supervision
Compared to in-person internships, remote ones may have limited supervision. This can be challenging for interns who are new to the workforce or lack experience in the industry.
Always stay connected with your managers and team members to ensure you receive the support you need. You can outline your requirements and request that they can set aside some time daily or weekly to check in with you until you settle in.
Nobody likes miscommunication. It can lead to delays, poor project outcomes and in the worst case, poor relationships with your colleagues. Make sure to be clear and concise in your communication. Don’t be afraid to seek clarification when needed to ensure that everyone is on the same page – including yourself!
It can be lonely
Working from home can be quite isolating, You may feel a little disconnected and lonely. If regular or in-person interaction is something you crave while you work, you may want to consider this point seriously. Additionally, there are more informal learning opportunities that crop up from working in an office.
A side-effect is that there are also limited networking opportunities but this can be remedied. You just need to actively connect with your colleagues. LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with professionals across the industry. You can attend virtual networking events and even join industry-specific groups.
Where did the time go?
Time management is a difficult challenge when working remotely. Without direct supervision, remote interns may struggle to prioritize their work or may be tempted to procrastinate. Other than that, the separation between “me time” and “work time” may become blurry as time goes on. This could cause remote workers to slip up on time management.
As a remote intern, you may need to set boundaries and establish a routine to manage your time effectively.
Distractions at home
Sure, remote internships eradicate work distractions — but makes home distractions more prominent. This can affect productivity. You would have to establish a designated workspace that is free from distractions and set boundaries to reduce interruptions during work hours. A slightly more difficult but highly effective option is to use time-tracking software for your tasks.
Overall, the advantages of remote internships are amazing and the potential drawbacks are fixable with the right mindset. Carefully consider these pros and cons before making your decision.
For those who love working independently, are self-motivated and have good communication and time management skills, a remote internship could be a breeze. Even if you don’t, you can still opt to give it a try and find out if you can handle it.
On the other hand, there are people who need a lot of social interaction and structure to work properly, and if that’s an obstacle you struggle with overcoming, you may want to reconsider. Take note of your personal comfort level with these issues and set your goals to help you see if a remote internship is worth it.