The Bitter-Sweet Experiences of Remote Internships

January 2020: A German based company offered me an internship opportunity.

February 2020: I spent the whole month shopping and looking up places that I will visit when I go there. I even connected with another student from New Zealand who was going to join me there for work.

March 2020: You know what happened. I finished my internship remotely.

Little did I know that remote internships would become the script of modern work experience and my remote work experience was bitter-sweet.

Image Credits: Memegenerator

The Sweeties:

1. International Exposure: It was wonderful to meet and collaborate with people from completely different cultures. My team leads and my work group were all from different corners of the World. Sitting at the comforts of my home, I received international exposure.

2. Geographic Constraints: This is the obvious benefit of a remote internship. Anybody from anywhere across the globe can intern with anybody.

3. Monetary constraints: A raider to the lack of geographical constraints means that monetary constraints are also reduced. This is true for the organisation as well. The cost of hiring an intern is significantly reduced because they do not have to provide them with work systems and commutation and stay.

4. Time Management: The biggest advantage of remote internships is flexibility in working hours. You can work at your most productive time. This is good for both the organisation because there is no idle time, and they can get the maximum benefit out of you. As for us, student-interns, we learn time management and adaptability.

5. Added Bonus: An added bonus to the available time is being able to do other things like a certificate course in your free time. I used the spare time I had from my internship last year to upskill myself.

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The Bitters:

1. The People: I spent 2 full months with my team in thick and thin. But when I said goodbye to them at the end of my internship, I did not think that I would miss them. Worse, I had not made a single friend who I could later call on for a favour or to just have a chat. The absence of networking opportunities is one of the biggest drawbacks of remote internships.

2. Work-Life Balance: Remote internships that burgeoned in the backdrop of pandemic has invaded our living spaces like a secret predator. Flexibility in work hours has another ugly side to it: the other person could also be flexible with your time.

3. Feedback: I did my first internship in the Summer of 2019. Every time I was stuck with something, I could walk up to my team lead who will sit down with me and guide me. The feedback I received was customised for me as a person and not just the work I put out. My 2020 internship was the exact opposite. Their feedback was difficult for me to assimilate and incorporate.

4. Real World Experience: Part of the internship experience is to get uncomfortable. In the sense, it is to get a sense of the challenging world out there where you have to step up and adapt to an uncomfortable situation. Had I visited Germany, I would have learnt to take care of myself: safety, finances, chores and so on. But instead, I was at home pampered by my parents. Online internships may help in building technical skills, but the development of real-world skills remains questionable.

As I had said, my remote internship experience was bitter-sweet. But in retrospect, my experience would have been similar in a live internship as well. Every experience is bitter-sweet. I have shared my experience so that you can get a sense of what to expect. But the most important thing is to try it for yourself. If this is the new norm, then embrace it.

All the best for your internships.


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