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Missouri Intern Connect - 3/31/2020

As coronavirus and social distancing measures disrupt business and college campuses across the nation, many companies and students are left wondering what will become of their internship programs. While taking health and safety precautions are paramount during this unprecedented time, these measures don’t need to mean pulling the plug on learning opportunities for interns.

Remote work has been around for a long time, but as more processes become digitized, such opportunities are growing in popularity. Now with COVID-19 on the rise, it is becoming a necessity for many organizations across the U.S — and interns don’t have to be left behind in this mass shift.

Of course, remote work simply isn’t a possibility for some industries. But for many jobs consisting of digital tasks — communications, graphic design, IT, to name just a few — going virtual can cut down on costs and hassle for both employers and students while protecting everyone involved from possible virus exposure.

Whenever possible, we encourage employers to consider virtual ways to accommodate the interns they have already committed to hiring instead of cancelling their program. Students rely heavily on internships for valuable career experience — and often for college credit required to graduate.


Remote internships have several benefits for both employers and students.

  • Employers can expand their candidate pool beyond typical geographical limits.
  • More convenient and less expensive for the student. No worries about moving, housing or transport.
  • Less expensive for the employer. There’s no need to provide a parking space, office space, equipment, meals, etc.
  • Remote internships can often be completed with more flexible hours, making them a good fit for busy students.

Just like onsite positions, frequent communication is key. With today’s plethora of tools at their fingertips — videoconferencing, phone calls, email, texting, instant messaging, project management software — there are a variety of ways for intern supervisors to easily stay connected with students and ensure assignments are understood and getting completed.

To give a virtual internship program the best chance of becoming a mutual success, employers should hire interns who they’re confident can provide the extra self-initiative necessary to tackle their duties without in-person coaching — and should stay in touch and review goals with those interns often.

Remote internships don’t come without challenges. While these aren’t reasons to write off remote internships, here are a few things to be aware of.

  • The intern will likely need access to high-speed internet and a computer with a webcam for videoconferencing — things that some students might not necessarily have.
  • A remote internship won’t as effectively help a student gain experience in skills like office etiquette and networking.
  • A remote internship requires an immense amount of initiative and responsibility from a student who might not have much prior experience doing self-directed work.

The benefits of a virtual position may be well worth navigating these hurdles — especially as students’ alternative opportunities for hands-on learning remain scarce during the pandemic.

If you already have unfilled listings posted on Missouri Intern Connect that you plan to convert to virtual internships, you can log in and edit the summaries to describe how you are planning for duties to be fulfilled remotely. You can also post your new remote internships on Missouri Intern Connect and be sure to mention that they are virtual opportunities.

Is your company making the shift to remote internships? Post your listings for free on Missouri Intern Connect!

Students — #WFH

If your current or upcoming internship is in limbo because of coronavirus and you haven’t heard from your employer yet, you can take initiative.

“Ask if there is any way you can work from home and still add value to the project or company,” suggests Forbes. “Many companies are starting work from home (WFH) in light of the coronavirus and it could be possible for you to do the same…With permission from your boss or mentor, you may figure out how to still engage with the meaningful summer job, internship, or research project you had planned.”

However, if all your plans and backup plans fall through, don’t despair. You can still use this time to advance your career goals. As you keep applying for internships, why not start a project of your own to build your resume and gain experience in your field of interest? Design your portfolio, code a website, write articles, volunteer to create projects for a local charity or nonprofit — whatever your field of study is, there is likely something you can be doing to build on the skillset you’ve been learning in class. Keep your skills from stagnating and you will be a more competitive candidate for future opportunities once life begins to return to normal and onsite internships start opening up again.

Looking for internships? Create a free profile on Missouri Intern Connect!