5 Easy Steps to Finding Virtual Internships from Right Behind Your Computer ScreenDec 03, 2020
We all know the benefits of internships: experience, and connections to get your foot in the door. Virtual internships can be even better because you can work remotely with a flexible schedule. But how do you find these prized positions?
The details vary for everyone, so professional advice will pinpoint and accelerate your unique career progress more than a magic “one-size-fits-all” answer.
But in general, just like when finding great jobs, the biggest secret to finding great internships is networking. And yes, “networking” is a looming, ominous term, but we’ll break down how to network in 5 easy steps to make it more manageable.
“Networking?! Whyyyy?!” *groan*
Instead of reducing your humanity down to your resume achievements, networking allows you to bring your personality—your whole self—to the table. And it’s simply more effective.
But if you die inside a little when you hear the word “networking,” we totally get it.
“Networking” sounds synonymous with “super social,” “fake,” and “can I go home yet?”
That’s not all networking is though! You can make networking feel a bit more exciting and fulfilling by:
- Joining groups about your interests.
- Updating yourself about trends in your field.
- Surfing LinkedIn from your bed.
- Catching up with a favorite professor.
- Social media stalking your friends’ friends.
- Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about.
Networking still isn’t sissy stuff, but it can be fun! And the flexibility of that virtual internship? Worth it!
Here are 5 easy tips for networking your way to great virtual careers.
1- Set Your Networking Compass—Know Where You Want to Go
You can’t spell “networking” without “work,” but it’s a lot easier if you know what you want and where you’re heading.
Caroline Ghosn, CEO of the career network Levo League, told Teen Vogue, “Taking the time to think through [your goals] before taking action is the foundation to setting yourself on the right path.”
Get hyped about the possibilities! If you’re excited, your networking actions will feel a lot more genuine, and not like you're just trying to be friendly to get a job.
(Not sure what you're passionate about yet? Afraid your degree will pigeon-hole you into a boring life? You’ll be okay! Check out our graduate career advice article for more on narrowing down your passions and why it’s also okay to not have one concrete path to the top.)
2- Get Friendly with That Sweet, Sweet Search Bar.
Whether it’s LinkedIn, Google, Handshake, or Instagram—search, search, search! Search for:
- Companies you see yourself working at.
- People you already know who work in your field.
- Groups centered around your field (including college clubs).
Keep track of what you find in a Word doc, spreadsheet, or your favorite organization app.
Your first networking move can be to follow connections on LinkedIn and check your feed like you would any other social media feed! That way, you:
- Get your name on your connections’ radars.
- Get an idea what's going on in the industry.
- Have a personal touch to add when you reach out ("I've really enjoyed the content you've shared on LinkedIn...").
3- Record your virtual career connections’ big needs.
You are the supply—but before you know what you’re supplying, you need to know the demand! If you can demonstrate how you can meet a company’s needs, your chances of landing an internship skyrocket.
Leah Knobler, a talent acquisition director, told Harvard Business Review, “There are definitely industries and companies...facing increased demand due to Covid-19...check out their open positions and get a sense for what roles they usually hire for and see if any align with your interests, and then be creative in making your pitch.”
Googling is great, but sometimes you need to reach out for informational interviews to best clarify these needs.
4- Smash that “send” button!
This step is the scariest part of networking. Don’t overthink; just send!
You’ve got this! Remember to:
- Message people to ask for advice; message companies for informational interviews or proposed virtual internships.
- Attend virtual career and networking events or video chat with club connections regarding potential virtual career and internship opportunities.
- Be polite and professional—but be creative, and be yourself! If you’re making a proposal, consider how to best show that your brand fits well with your targeted company.
Kristi DePaul at Harvard Business Review suggests proposing project-based internships instead of timeframe-based ones. That way, you directly appeal to a company’s needs instead of just saying, “Hey, I want a job.”
Be persistent, but considerate. If you still don't get replies, stay determined. Move on to the next connection, or find another angle in if you're dead set on this one. (Think of it this way—most blind applications won't get responses anyways, so even if you’re not getting responses right away, networking is still more productive.)
5- Keep in touch. Like, follow, and comment! (For your new connections, not your favorite YouTuber.)
Follow up informational interviews with thank-you messages or handwritten notes. Even if your first interaction doesn't get you a virtual internship right off the bat, keep in touch for potential future openings.
LinkedIn simplifies your ongoing networking actions to more passive actions like likes and comments. You can stay in touch with professionals without having to constantly send direct messages and voicemails.
But don’t be afraid to send messages and phone calls when appropriate, such as to congratulate the company on a big event, ask more questions, or make further proposals.
Ways to Make Networking Even Easier
These steps break “networking” into concrete, actionable steps, instead of a miasmal mysterious fog that swallows whole all who venture into it. But we get that networking is still hard to navigate.
Anything in your career journey—including landing virtual internships—becomes much easier with direction and community, so consider how much time and sanity you can save by connecting with those resources.
Kristi DePaul says that “It may feel as though internship opportunities are drying up…[but] if you approach the situation creatively...you may find that you have more options than you’d think.”
Want more free hacks about landing internships, defining and selling your unique brand, and more? Learn about our Career Cram program now!
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