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Going Virtual this Summer for Internships

By Tim Claydon
Experiential Learning Coordinator

April 17, 2020


In the wake of the global 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, organizations around the world are quickly changing how they function which includes summer jobs and internships. Virtual internships aren’t new, and many industries have offered effective work-from-home arrangements for employees particularly for organizations whose primary clients exist online. With the recent and sudden shift to online communication as the primary means to work, it is important to consider how you as a student can still be a virtual team player, and how an online job experience can be an opportunity to shine. While many popular online tools and platforms like Google, Skype, Zoom, and OneDrive have existed for years, we are now heavily reliant on these technologies to allow society and industry to function as usual.

Ontario Tech University students are experienced users of online technologies in the classroom, and for their own course work, which positions our students to be leaders when entering the workforce. Our student’s experiences and skills using the Google Suite of Apps for Education included with their student accounts provides full access to Google tools they can use to work from anywhere with internet access. My primary message to student’s job-seeking this summer would be to highlight those technical skills wherever possible as part of their application. Pay careful attention to the job role description for any mention of online tools or platforms the employer may already be using. Employers will be keen to consider students who are familiar with particular online collaborative work tools, which further promotes cross-learning between students and employers.

Clear communication is now more important than ever as organizations turn to online tools to communicate and collaborate in teams. While many online meeting tools and applications exist, the learning curve for individuals can be steep, especially for students seeking job opportunities this summer. They must consider multiple ways to gain exposure to their application materials and virtual-self, which includes having a strong social media presence on sites like LinkedIn. Kristen Fitzpatrick, Managing Director of Career & Professional Development at Harvard Business School has commented on the common threads among great internship experiences saying “successful internships benefit both organizations and students by providing a chance for someone with fresh eyes to take a look at how things are done, and allowing students to bring their previous experience to bear in a new situation. Students with particularly positive experiences often remark that they felt integrated into the work of the team, and that people in the organization cared about what they were working on.” (HBS, 2013).

While it is difficult to predict how the pandemic will continue to impact society at large, organizations and the students they hire do need to start making decisions now in order to plan for successful onboarding, training, and impactful work experiences. Technology has made remote work easier today than it has ever been, that is when all the technology works according to plan! For students and employers, this likely means adapting quickly to change and having to learn new tools on the fly while overcoming barriers such as internet access speed or webcam and microphone quality. Students considering summer internships can be of great value to organizations looking to incorporate these technologies and should consider ways they can leverage their own knowledge of online tools to help organizations succeed.

Learn more about our Internship program.