/Internships: In-Person or Virtual

Internships: In-Person or Virtual

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Interning is an excellent way to gain real-world experience, practice the skills you’re learning in the classroom and network with people who could help you find great opportunities for your future.

Many degree plans include an internship for this reason and up to a certain limit, many degree plans award credits for interning. Depending upon the opportunity, some internships pay the student participant.

Whether it’s part of your degree plan or not, interning can give you an advantage in the application process and help you perform better at your first job.

But will interning still happen considering the pandemic? How can you intern while companies are still trying to limit the number of workers in the building at any time?


Jacqueline Campbell Wallace, ’02 and ’04 SUNY Oswego alumnae, is assistant director of Career Services and a career coach for education, public and human services at the school. She said that despite the pandemic, many of the school’s departments have worked out ways to intern and many companies still want to mentor college interns.

“They have offered project-based internships for those who cannot do a virtual-based or in-person internship,” Wallace said.

While in-person internships will still happen, remote internships are also a going to help businesses accommodate interns who cannot work in-person because of health concerns or because the business management is trying to stay below a certain number of employees to maintain social distancing.

Much of how the student participates in the internship relies up on the type of business and the industry in which the student is involved.

“Some are able to shift to virtual more easily,” Wallace said, “while other are not.”

For example, hands-on careers may shift toward project-based internships, since the work can’t be performed remotely. Careers that may be done remotely such as those focusing on information will likely reflect that in internships, too.

Of course, internships aren’t just about performing work for a company in a real-world setting. Internships are also important learning experiences for students involved. Their employers integrate the school’s educational objectives as part of the daily schedule to complement what students have learned in the lecture hall.

“The mentoring piece is the most important part and that can be done in person or virtually,” Wallace said. “They can connect with Zoom for a staff meeting, for example. Students can get some virtual experiences and work with employer virtually.”

While this may at first seem like a second-rate internship when compared with working alongside veterans of the industry, Wallace said that it can provide a different, yet also useful internship compared with more conventional internships.

“The students doing these internships are seeing the world of work as to how we’ve adapted,” she said.

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