Colleges and universities should offer more remote internship opportunities. Why? Because remote work may be the wave of the future. College students soon to graduate and embark on a career journey of full time work need to have exposure to remote work to demonstrate their employability. Unfortunately, it is unclear if colleges and universities offer remote internships to address real world job market conditions.
Just recently the Times Higher Education (THE) published an article imploring universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning to make investments in remote internship programs. THE argued that the promotion and availability of remote internships programs on and off college campuses make universities more attractive to prospective applicants.
Remote job experience is particularly important now as roughly 25% to 40% of all jobs held globally are completed off-site, remotely, virtually from home and from anywhere in the world. THE suggested that when college students and recent graduates are given the opportunity to experience modern work environments (work from home, remote work), they are better equipped to demonstrate that they have the specific communication skills such as collaborating remotely and using remote and digital technology. These skills they will surely need to show potential employers that they are employable and can add value.
What a difference three years can make! Prior to Covid-19 global pandemic, internships offering remote, hybrid and virtual working arrangements were an oddity. Not anymore! College students and recent graduates are beginning to come around to accepting remote job assignments which may lead to the eventual preference for remote jobs over in person jobs. Here is some data.
Inside Higher Education provided the results of a 2,000 student survey showing the following data:
- 38% of the student were at least somewhat interested in a virtual or remote internship while completing course requirements,
- 18% of the student were extremely interested,
- 34% would be somewhat interested in obtaining a fully remote job after graduation, while
- 15% would be extremely interested in securing a remote job after graduation.
The benefits to college students when their colleges offer remote job internship opportunities are endless:
- students living in rural, remote and out-of-country geographical regions will have the same access to remote internships offered in metropolitan and first world countries;
- the costs for students to work remotely on an internship might be cheaper as they will not need to incur relocation costs and transportation required for working in a traditional in-office setting.
- students will have more opportunities to work in a more diverse, cross-culture environment when working on a remote job assignment.
In addition to these benefits, there are some downsides to remote internships, particularly when the college student lacks the following skills:
- time management,
- self- determination and internal motivation, and
- digital literacy
Another factor related to remote job internships would be the accessibility of reliable internet service and fast internet connections capable of handling the simultaneous utilization of communication tools (chat, email, forum, file downloads, scheduling, storage, video conference streaming, voice and audio, for instance) required of a remote worker.