Confessions of a Summer Intern: Getting a Virtual Internship

Bored at Work

In her second post, Alysondra Milano shares her tips for finding and securing a virtual internship. Alysondra is currently “virtually” interning with Time at the Table, a nonprofit organization working to promote the reconnection of families around the dinner table. If you missed “meeting” Alysondra, read her introduction post.

In my last post, I went through what virtual internships are and what they can offer you. Let’s go through how to actually get the internship.

Start by searching on websites like you would for any other internship. Some of my favorite places to look include Hawk Jobs and CyberInterns.com. Companies post their internships on these sites and will indicate if they are virtual. Send in your resume but make sure that it is error free since you are applying for a position that will require you to be able to communicate well through writing.

It always helps to connect with something that you like to do. If you are doing work for a cause or brand that you really believe in, it will make it a lot easier to schedule in time to complete your work for them. This is also another great way to find an internship. If you work with a nonprofit or know of a small local company that is having a hard time doing something that you could do from home, offer your services to them.

For example, my [current] internship is in social media. I approached a nonprofit recently about allowing me to do their social media for them. I told them about my experience with Time at the Table (the virtual internship that I have now) and explained how my work there could be applied to their cause. Just ask if you can do the work for free in exchange for college credit and a way to build your resume. The process to get credit is not very hard and takes just a few forms, the consent of an instructor and the consent of the person who will oversee you as an intern.

Also, write, write, write! Since you will not necessarily have a formal interview, most companies ask you to provide them with a writing sample. A great way to have some writing samples on hand is to start blogging. This will keep your writing skills sharp, and blogging may be one thing that the company will expect that you will already be able to do.

Please do your homework as well! When you send your resume, tailor it to the company that you are sending it to. These things may matter even more when they are basing who they will hire off of what they see from your online correspondence. This also shows your attention (or lack thereof) to detail. The company may set up an interview with you (and other candidates) online via Skype. If you know many different platforms, come with ideas tailored to their brand, and know their key messages and values, you will stand out among the competition.

Remember that since you are applying for a position where a brick and mortar presence is not required, that opens the field up to applicants from all over the world – applicants that will be our competition. You would not believe how many people do not follow through on the research portion. I was told after I secured my virtual internship that I was one of only two candidates who applied that took it upon themselves to research the organization and what they stood for. That can make a huge difference and secure you a position over someone who may have more experience, but doesn’t have the follow through that you were able to show!

As long as you show your desire, what services you can provide, and go above and beyond the other candidates, securing that internship will be just the beginning!

Photo Source

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Alysondra Milano

Alysondra Milano

Alysondra Milano is a Communications/Public Relations Major with a minor in Advertising at UW-Whitewater. She is active on campus through her role as President of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and through her job in the Global Business Resource Center. Alysondra will be graduating in May 2012.

Virtual internships are still foreign to most people. When I tell people that my internship is virtual and that I have never physically met my boss, it can be confusing. Some people even think that I made it up! To share my advice, I must also share the experiences that I have had as a virtual intern.

I am a virtual intern for a nonprofit called Time at the Table. The main focus is to promote healthy eating to families and to reconnect them around the dinner table. It’s all about bringing them together in conversation to make stronger, healthier lives for all of the families that we are able to touch. They have major presence in Brooklyn and in a town in South Dakota.

What is my role in this? I run their social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I write newsletters, put together press releases, send out texts via an automated text messaging service, and help to monitor the website. The best part? I can do this all from home. There is no need for me to physically commute since everything can be done from my laptop and shared with my boss through emails.

That is the only different between a virtual and a “traditional” internship. I could drive to a building, work on a computer there, and then drive home. My other option is to stay home and save myself some gas money while helping out a cause that I otherwise would not be able to because I cannot drive to Brooklyn to sit and be online in their offices. The choice for me was obvious. Virtual internships benefit the organization because they do not have to have all local talent. Time at the Table has interns everywhere from Florida to Wisconsin who are motivated and good at what they do. We are all able to work together with the use of technology. We have Skype meetings every other week so that we can all relay what we have been working on and make sure we are meeting deadlines.

Virtual internships still require a lot of work. You have to have discipline to stick to your schedule and get your work out on time. I chose to be a virtual intern because of the flexibility it allows me to have. I do not have to commute anywhere so it is saving me money while I learn the skills that I would learn in any other office. Independence is another perk of the virtual realm as I can go online whenever I choose. And I can’t lie – not having to dress up every day for work is a definite perk that I am taking full advantage of!

Next week, meet Gabby Fenzel in the 2011 Confessions of a Summer Intern series!

Resource Spotlight: Internships.com

Zeus, Digging For China

Photo by doggybytes

How deeply have you dug into Hawk Jobs? If your answer is not very, then you are definitely missing out on some great resources for your internship search.

Log into Hawk Jobs and scan over to the Career Resources section along the top of your screen. Here you will find some of the hidden gems we have to offer UW-W students. I have already written about my love for one of these resources, EmployOn. Today, I want to highlight Internships.com.

Internships.com is a dedicated internship search engine. A brief description from their site states:

Everything you need to find, apply and get an internship all in one place

  • Search the world’s largest internship marketplace
  • Find employers like Disney, Fox, MTV, Burton, IBM and tons of small and midsize firms
  • Use keywords related to industry, major and more to search for internships

Sounds pretty good, huh? Here is why I think you should check out Internships.com.

  • Internships Alone. When you use other search engines out there, including the before mentioned EmployOn, you need to use “internship” as an additional keyword in order to siphon out these opportunities from other job jobs. There’s no need to do this with Internships.com because, as the name implies, internships are all they got.
  • Resources Galore! While the primary reason you might visit Internships.com is to access information on opportunities, you will also find a great collection of student resources designed to help you through the internship process from A to Z:
    • The Basics
    • The Preparation
    • The Search
    • The Interview
    • The Workplace
    • The Paperwork
  • Social Media Connection. In addition to their main website, Internships.com has delved into the realm of social media to connect you to information and opportunities. @internships is very active on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook. Read their blog, Eye of the Intern. Download their Internship Seeker iPhone app. Internships.com definitely understands technology.

If you are a non-UW-Whitewater student reading this, don’t despair. While UW-Whitewater has an Affiliate University relationship with Internships.com, it is a resource that is open to the masses. Visit their site and take advantage of the same great resources.

Question of the Week:

Have you used Internships.com in your search? What do you think about it?

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of February 14

Internship Link Roundup for the Week of October 11

Photo by Max Klingensmith