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 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!

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Intern Spotlight: Rose Schneider ’12

Rose Schneider 2

Rose Schneider, Junior (May 2012)
Major: International Journalism
Minors: Advertising & Multimedia
Internship: Intern with the Portage County Gazette

What interested you in this internship?

I’m a person who likes to be the best I can be at any given thing. I was interested in the internship position at the Portage County Gazette because I have my career goals set very high. I am an international journalism major and I aspire to work for National Geographic after graduating from Deakin in Melbourne, Australia. I know having every advantage possible is crucial when being compared to another possible candidate for any job but especially when applying for a position at the National Geographic Society.

How did you find out about the internship and approximately how long did it take you to secure it?

I found out about the internship by calling around different newspapers in and around my hometown. I was looking for an opportunity to expand my journalistic knowledge and practice things I had learned in classes at UW-Whitewater

I first contacted the Gazette in February [2010] and they told me to contact them again when the end of the semester got closer. From the time I talked to the managing editor at the end of April, I knew I had the position. Our conversations went very well and I think it was obvious to both of us that I would be a good addition to their staff for the summer.

Describe your internship experience.

The internship at the Portage County Gazette required me to be a flexible and responsible writer. There were days where I would come in and the managing editor would hand me an address and say you have an interview here in 20 minutes. I’d be expected to go to the location, get the story and pictures, then go back to the office and put the story together for that night’s paper.

One of the great things about my internship was that I was given enough leeway to go out and find my own stories. When I was assigned stories, the editor never told me how to approach them or what to look for when going out with a camera and my notebook. There was enough faith placed in me that I was free to attack any event from any angle I chose. I appreciated that more than anything, because I learned so much about myself as a journalist. And because of that freedom, I was able to develop my writing style in new ways.

There were some weeks I would write anywhere from one to three articles for the Gazette. Most of the time, I would shoot my own pictures for my stories and sometimes for other writers’ articles as well. If I shot the picture, I was responsible for writing the cutline to accompany it.

Every week I spent at least five hours reading copy for the paper. I made edits on every section ranging from obituaries to front page news. Performing copyedits was especially helpful because it was a quick way to immerse myself deeper into the world of AP style and familiarize myself with the proper usage of common words and phrases.

Since the beginning of my internship at the Gazette, I’ve written 29 articles, interviewing people from all different professions including police officers, professors, librarians, council members, high school students, dance coaches, and small children, to name a few.

How did this opportunity relate to your career goals?

This opportunity related directly to my career goals because it gave me the opportunity to develop myself further as a journalist. Also, on a personal note, it gave me the chance to prove to myself that I’m a good writer. I believe anytime a person has the opportunity to have an experience that will better themselves that he or she should take advantage of it. My experience was great because I got to work closely with so many different people in the community and by doing so, I put my name out there as a fresh and ambitious writer.

What have you learned from your internship?

  1. Always have your camera and a notepad with you because you never know when you’ll see something that may be breaking news.
  2. Never think you know how the story will turn out because the person you’re doing the article on may break their collar bone in front of you.
  3. Don’t be afraid to call someone back to double-check a fact. They will appreciate the accuracy when the article appears in print.
  4. Do a bit of research on the person you’re interviewing when possible. Generally, people like it when you’re knowledgeable about what they’re passionate about.
  5. Don’t be afraid to harass someone about getting back to you. It’s your article and your butt on the line. Call or email as much as you need to get the story done on time. That person may have accidentally thrown away your number. Twice.
  6. Never be afraid to ask co-workers questions or for feedback. You will learn so much.
  7. Always do your best. You never know when another paper will pick up your story.

What advice would you give to other students about internships?

They’re wonderful. Try to take advantage of as many as you can and build good relationships with your co-workers. What you will learn is invaluable if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

Have you had an outstanding internship experience like Rose did? Tell employers, faculty, and fellow UW-W students what made your internship experience so great! Be featured in the Intern Spotlight! To learn more, please visit the UW-W Intern of the Month Program information page.

Confessions of a Summer Intern: Meet Jon McGuff

Jon McGuff

Welcome to the 40-hour work week

The road to recovery for an injured Major League pitcher is rather amazing. After surgery, the pitcher goes through months of rehab and physical therapy. Eventually, he begins to build up the strength in his arm and with practice pitches off the mound. Finally, when the pitcher is almost ready to return, he throws a simulated game. This game involves real hitters, and all the basic baseball rules apply; however, the game doesn’t count. The purpose of a simulated game is to mimic a real game as much as possible in order to re-introduce the pitcher to the situations and stressors that he can only learn from in a game-like atmosphere. To me, my internship is like a simulated game. I’m getting the opportunity to experience what a professional job feels like before I graduate from college.

My name is Jonathan McGuff, and I am a senior at UW-Whitewater. Next fall will be my last semester, and it’s amazing how fast my time here has flown by. Originally an accounting major, I ended up changing my major to English with an emphasis in professional writing and book publishing. I am currently interning as a copywriter at a catalog company called Nasco located in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. My main job there is to write, edit, and proofread the descriptions for the products that Nasco sells in their catalogs.

One interesting thing about my internship is how much I am learning about the work place apart from my major-oriented tasks. Never working a 40-hour week before in my life, the transition to the eight-hour-a-day shifts has caused me to re-evaluate how much sleep I need to get and how I should utilize my time during and after work. The company dress code and other policies allow me to practice keeping to a standard set by an employer. Finally, the interoffice communications I have with coworkers and superiors is helping to shape me into a more accountable, responsible, and team-oriented employee.

So not only is this internship giving me experience in my specific field, but it is also giving me experience in the more general field of working. That experience is my simulated game, and I can take that with me no matter where I end up in the future.

Intern Spotlight: Danielle Krizan ’11

Danielle Krizan

Danielle Krizan, Junior (May 2011)
Major: Public Relations
Minor: Journalism
Internship: Social Media/Public Relations Intern with the American Heart Association of Wisconsin

Describe your internship experience. Where are you interning?

I am the social media/public relations intern for the American Heart Association in Wisconsin. My duties include creating and managing social media pages including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and photo sharing sites. On the public relations side, I write press releases and interactive news releases for upcoming events. I also get to volunteer and help with media relations during major events.

What interested you in this internship?

What I love about this internship is that I’ve been able to create almost all of our social media pages from scratch. I also love that projects change every day. One day I can be doing a lot of writing and the next day I’m running down Martin Luther King Blvd. in a red dress taking pictures by the Capitol. The favorite project I’ve worked on so far was National Wear Red Day. The Red Dress Dash that took place in Madison on February 4th was truly an event I will remember for my entire life, and it helped me realize how my work can make a difference in people’s lives.

What are you doing in your internship?

In my internship, I am creating social media pages, developing content, and researching the most effective ways to track our pages. The pages I help manage include:

I’ve also helped script radio and TV public service announcements, and promote events via Twitter and Facebook.

What have you learned during your internship?

During my internship, I have learned numerous new ways to manage Facebook pages and how to utilize tabs on those pages. I’ve also been improving my writing skills and become more confident working with the media side of public relations. I’ve also learned what I am truly passionate about and that I can merge my love of social media and volunteering and turn it into a career.

What strategies did you use to find your internship?

I found out about my internship through my PR professor, Ann Knabe. She passed along the information to me because she thought it would be something I would enjoy. She was right.

What advice would you give to students exploring internships or beginning their search for an internship?

USE TWITTER! So many students are either afraid to use Twitter or don’t understand it, but it is a great way to find out about internships and connect with the organizations they are looking to work for. I encourage them to use Big Shoes Network if they are looking for internships, or jobs, in communications or marketing.

Other thoughts or advice?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out on the internet. Create a website and blog and don’t be afraid to promote those on your social media sites. Also, watch what you are posting on your Facebook! It’s good to show that you have a social life, but you also want to show that you are responsible.

Internship with Whitewater Arts Alliance

The Whitewater Arts Alliance (WAA), a local not-for-profit arts organization, is seeking an intern to work in the WAA office. Ideally, the WAA is looking for an intern to work for a 12 month period beginning December 2009, but they are willing to consider single semester internships. This is a PAID internship opportunity!

The WAA is looking for the following in the successful candidate:

  • Junior/Senior standing
  • Self-starter: ability to work independently
  • Willingness to learn
  • Strong time management skills, organizational skills, and communication skills
  • Ability to interact with a variety of constituents: volunteers, artists, business professionals, people of all ages
  • Research skills: ability to find resources, grants, foundation information
  • Proficiency on computers
  • Ability to lift 25 lbs.

The responsibilities of this internship include:

  • Managing incoming proposals for exhibits and performances
  • Keeping an organizational calendar
  • Assisting with newsletter preparation
  • Assiting with volunteer organization
  • Researching grants for Alliance programming
  • Answering email and phone calls for the Alliance
  • Assisting with set up and take down of shows
  • Attending monthly board meetings
  • Organizing Cultural Arts Center/Whitewater Arts Alliance history and donor archives
  • Opening/closing the facility as necessary for shows and public access
  • Performing light cleaning and maintenance
  • Filing

The intern will work 10-15 flexible hours/week. The salary will be $1000/semester, paid in four installments each semester, for a total potential salary of $3000/year.

The application deadline for this opportunity is Saturday, October 31, 2009. To learn how to apply, contact me (Laura Jacobs) at I will pass along the details. You can also find the information in HawkQuest.

The Whitewater Arts Alliance is a wonderful local organization whose mission is “to promote the visual and performing arts” in Whitewater and surrounding areas. Members include artists, educators, organizations, and community members. The Alliance wishes “to make the visual and performing arts an essential part of the lives of all Whitewater citizens” in the belief that the arts are “an essential and integral part of revitalization and growth” of the Whitewater community.

This is a great opportunity for a UW-Whitewater student to work for an important cause and support the local community.