Virtual internships: The new normal for a practical exposure
“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
This quote by Rabindranath Tagore truly represents the unprecedented times we are currently living in.In such times, we need to reinvent our thought process, plan and collaborate to co-create a space for engaging with our community of learners in ways that are redefining the change around us.
Through connected learning, educators are thinking about innovative strategies in such times. Students are anxious about the how and when of this academic year. The timelines are grey, especially for students who are at the juncture of joining university/college and for students who have taken the Board examinations and awaiting closure.
Practical exposure through a summer internship which was a norm until last year has become a challenge in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with physical classes, physical summer internships too got cancelled, giving way to the concept of virtual internships. With the boom in technological apps like zoom, skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. connecting virtually with interns or employees was never this easy for the employers.
The main advantage of a virtual Internship is that it offers flexibility to the student. It allows them to select options that otherwise may not have been available due to geographical limitations.Students can apply for virtual internships available across the country or globe to support a myriad of projects ranging from content writing to public relations to social media engagement to website designing to data analysis and much more. With a stable Internet connection and an email account, students can work from their home in these unprecedented times.
The flexibility of time is also an essential component. Students can work at their own pace and can pursue different interests at the same time.One should have the knack of being able to research on a topic online for hours and perseverance.They can further enhance their familiarity with digital tools and tech-based work.
Though the concept of a virtual internship is new, it is gaining prominence in the corporate world - across both the start-ups and well-established corporates.
Clarity of communication is paramount to ace a virtual internship - especially as a lot of body language cues are out of the picture.Interns have to communicate frequently and efficiently with their mentors to ensurethat they are on the right track in terms of the objectives of the assignment. They should not shy away from asking questions, seeking clarity and requesting help if needed. It is also essential to maintain phone and email etiquette.
Other than this, following a set schedule minus distractions is very important when working on an online assignment. While guiding students through their career goals, I always tell them that opportunities are galore! They should focus their energies on discovering the right one for them and then working hard to get it, all this while keeping their curiosity alive.
(The author is Lead of Career Development Centre, Shiv Nadar School, Noida. Views expressed here are personal.)