Elements of a Successful Virtual Internship

If a virtual internship is proposed by a student, or offered by a prospective internship site, the following components will be considered by the University prior to final approval:

  • The organization must be an established, legitimate business or non-profit, as evidenced by considerations such as a physical location, website, history of offering paid employment, listed telephone number, tax ID number, etc.
  • The organization must agree to offer an internship that meets the criteria of a legitimate internship as outlined by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
  • The organization must agree to a site visit from a representative of the University.
  • The organization and internship coordinator need to agree on a clear, detailed position description which covers all expectations and outlines what will constitute a successful internship.
  • The worksite supervisor must provide the student with regular supervision, mentoring, and feedback as outlined in the NACE internship standards. In a virtual internship, this will include:
  1. Use of a company intranet or virtual workspace on a server, or an online project management or document-sharing tool, such as Office 365, Google Docs, or a similar program. This will allow the supervisor to go online and monitor the work which is to be completed. The work is stored in the cloud, not on a single PC, so it is always available to those who need it.
  2. A regularly-scheduled email report in which the student provides information to the worksite supervisor and faculty sponsor, such as challenges or problems encountered, progress toward learning objectives, and any questions they may have.
  3. A weekly virtual meeting on Skype, Zoom, Teams or similar technology. This meeting will be used to provide more personalized feedback to the student and correct any issues. 
  4. If the virtual internship is in the local area, the employer needs to meet with the student in a public palce once a week. This face-to-face meeting is a time for project planning, review of progress made, feedback, and mentoring.
  • The organization should make the virtual intern a part of regular operations as much as possible; for example, including them in face-to-face opportunities such as company meetings or client visits.
  • The student must provide the faculty sponsor with the outputs of the internship (e.g., written materials produced, analysis completed)
  • Both worksite supervisor and student must complete mid-term and final evaluations as directed in an on-site internship.