Tips for Getting a Remote Internship

Woman on laptop listening to a webinar and taking notes

Pro-Stock Studio / Getty Images

As is the case with many jobs, internships have gone remote. However, the shift to virtual work experiences hasn’t necessarily diminished the outlooks of students and recent graduates. In fact, a report from nonprofit organization The Washington Center found that over 60% of students surveyed believe that a remote internship is just as valuable as an in-person opportunity. Additionally, over half of the respondents felt included in the organization where they were interning remotely, and 92% felt engaged at their internship.

Whether remote or in person, internships are an excellent way to enhance your skills, bolster your resume, and make connections that will help you succeed in the job market. Penny Loretto, associate director of the Career Development Center at Skidmore College, told The Balance Careers in an email interview, “Virtual internships provide a great deal of flexibility and are a great way to gain skills before entering the job market.” 

If you don't have time to invest in an internship, consider a shorter-term program like an externship or job shadowing.

How to Find Internship Listings

Conducting a multifaceted search is the best way to find an internship that’s the right fit for you. Remember that an internship is a way to explore career options and gain work experience, so keep an open mind about what type of internship you’d like to do. 

Spend time checking out a variety of resources to see what’s available. This is an opportunity to have a fun learning experience in addition to gaining expertise, so you want to find a position that’s a good fit.

Check With Career Services

The best place to start your internship search is at your college career services office. It may have internship listings, especially for students or recent grads from your school. Also, if your institution has an alumni network, learn how to tap it to connect with alumni who may be able to assist with your search.

For resume- and cover letter-writing assistance, check with career services to see what resources are available to help.

Use Your Network

In addition to using your college’s career network, check LinkedIn groups affiliated with your institution, and connect with alumni at companies and in career fields of interest. 

Let your family and friends know that you’re seeking an internship. And if you’ve worked or interned previously, notify your former colleagues that you’re looking. The more people who know you need help, the more opportunities you’ll have to choose from.

Find Your Dream Company

Where would you like to work if you could pick the place? Do you have a dream company that you’d love to work for? In an email interview with The Balance, Amy Soricelli, vice president of Career Services at Berkeley College, shared her advice on finding a company that’s a match. Soricelli suggests choosing an organization that you feel closely aligned with by doing your research, becoming familiar with their culture, studying their company page, and learning about their trends, who they hired, and what they’re all about.

Once you have found some companies of interest, create a personalized letter of introduction for each organization. Explain why you would be an excellent candidate for a remote internship, regardless of whether there is currently an opening for one. Highlight the skills you have, and mention your flexibility and roll-up-your-sleeves approach to finding an internship. But the bottom line, Soricelli said, is to “throw caution to the wind and be fearless in your search.”

If you’re interested in a credit-bearing internship, check with your school on the process and requirements for getting credit.

Find and Apply on Job Sites

One of the quickest ways to find internship listings is to look online. You can use general job sites as well as niche sites that focus on internships. Here are some of the best ways to find internship listings: 

  • Your college’s job board: Start your internship search with your college’s career services office. Request access to your school’s job and internship database. You’ll be able to find open positions and apply online. Also, inquire about other resources that are available.
  • Google: Check for listings the quick and easy way by searching Google for terms like “remote internship,” and then click on the arrow and link to more jobs (for example, “100+ more jobs”) at the bottom of the job postings. You’ll be able to narrow down your search criteria on the next page.
  • CollegeGrad: On the CollegeGrad site, check the internships box, and then search for internships using the keyword “remote” and the type of internship you’re interested in to find listings.
  • Idealist: You can search for internships at nonprofit organizations on Idealist. Add “remote” as a keyword to generate a list of options to consider.
  • Indeed: Visit Indeed’s Remote Internships page to find companies that are hiring interns in this way. You can also use Indeed’s advanced search option: Select “internships” as the type of job, and then add keywords such as “remote” or “virtual” and the job title or type of position (for example, marketing, computer science, product management).
  • LinkedIn: Search LinkedIn Jobs by checking “internship” as the job type or experience level, or type “internship” in the search box. Then check “remote” to view internship listings. 

You can sign up for job alerts on most sites to get notified when new listings are posted.

Tips for Getting Your Application Noticed

Even though the hiring process is remote, there are ways you can highlight your credentials and stand out from the crowd of applicants. Brie Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs, shared advice for getting hired in an email interview with The Balance:

Mention your remote experience. Make sure to highlight any virtual experience you already have—for example, attending virtual classes and completing group projects remotely. 

List your remote-friendly skills. Remote employers tell us they look for people with excellent written and verbal communication skills, time management, focus, and comfort with technology.

List the programs you can use. Speaking of technology, list the programs you use to communicate and collaborate with people. Slack, Google Drive, Zoom, and even a university program such as Blackboard are all examples of the types of programs employers expect their remote team members to be comfortable using.

Use your connections. Just like in a search for a full-time job, reach out to the people you know who might be able to connect you with opportunities (friends, family, classmates, professors), update your resume to match the keywords in each internship description, and write a strong cover letter explaining why you're interested in the role and what you have to offer. 

Watch out for scams. Be careful of job scams, which have increased significantly during the pandemic. If you're not sure whether an internship listing is from a real company, ask your college career advisors for help, or look at the resources on FlexJobs to help you identify whether it's a scam.

Ace the Interview

Take the Time to Prepare

When you’re applying for a remote position, the interview process will typically be virtual as well. Even though you’re not meeting with the company’s representative in person, it’s important to carefully prepare for your interview.

Find a Quiet Space

Set up a quiet interview space where you can focus on the interviewer without distractions. If you haven’t interviewed much before, check with career services to see if they offer mock interviews. If not, you could recruit a friend or family member to practice with. 

Check Your Technology

Check to make sure your technology is in working order ahead of time. For example, you can try a test meeting with Zoom to ensure everything is perfectly set.

Finally, be sure to avoid these easy-to-make remote interview mistakes.

Follow Up With a Thank-You Email

Take a few minutes after your meeting to send a thank-you note to the people you interviewed with. In addition to showing your appreciation, it’s an opportunity to mention anything you wish you had said during the interview and to reiterate your interest in the position.

Plan to Make Your Internship a Success

Once you’ve got the internship, spend some time getting ready to make the best impression. Skidmore College’s Penny Loretto shares some tips that will help to make your virtual internship a success:

  1. Define your goals and the skills you want to learn and communicate those to your supervisor.
  2. Create a quiet workspace in which to work that provides few distractions.
  3. Maintain active communications with your supervisors and co-workers so everyone's expectations can be met.
  4. Meet deadlines promptly and do more than what's expected.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback.