Remote jobs and internships aren’t always the first thing you think of when looking for resume-building experiences, but they can be fantastic opportunities. In recent years, remote work has become increasingly more popular, and there are opportunities available in almost every field and industry. Though remote work can be quite different from traditional, onsite work, that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable. In fact, there are a ton of different projects you can work on and skills you can hone working on your own schedule, in your own home.
There are benefits and potential challenges when working in a remote opportunity, and it’s good to be aware of these before you take on a position.
- Location isn’t a concern. You can work with organizations around the country (or around the world!) without having to worry about moving, visas, or other costly and stressful logistics. This can open the door for exciting opportunities with organizations that you couldn’t access in-person!
- The schedule can be flexible. Though there are still deadlines to stay on top of, much of the work for a remote internship can be completed at your own pace and on your own time. This allows you to set your own schedule and easily work around any other commitments like classes or onsite jobs and internships.
- Get your foot in the door. Remote work is also a great opportunity to connect with an organization you’re interested in, even if their posted jobs or internships aren’t good fit for you! Though they may only be looking to hire for a certain position, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to be done. Reaching out and offering your skills as a remote worker can help an organization move forward on projects that might otherwise be overlooked, and help you make connections and get a foot in the door for when other opportunities arise.
- Great for your budget AND your resume. Remote jobs and internships can be a fantastic way to gain experience to build your resume, and are often way more budget-friendly than traditional internships! You can gain a lot of the same knowledge and skills as an onsite internship, but without the cost of rent or transportation in a new city.
- Less guidance and structure. Remote jobs and internships are often highly independent, which means that you might not have the same structure in your day or level of guidance from your supervisor when working on your projects. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a challenge if you usually need more direction to make progress in your tasks.
- Limited social interaction. Because you aren’t together with your coworkers in an office environment, remote jobs and internships tend to involve less social interaction. There are ways to network with your coworkers in spite of this difference, but it’s up to you to initiate these connections and can feel a bit awkward at first.
- Unpredictable workload. An organization’s calendar and priorities can be change throughout the year, so, as a remote worker, your tasks may change unexpectedly. There may be times when you’re overwhelmed with projects, and others when you don’t have much assigned to you. It can be difficult to plan far enough in advance that you’re able to balance your workload and adapt to shifting workloads.
- Lower pay. Though remote jobs and internships usually involve a lower cost than traditional work, they often also offer less pay, or are not financially compensated. You’ll have to weigh this factor against all of the benefits of remote work to figure out if it’s the right option for you.
FINDING REMOTE WORK
There are multiple ways to find remote work. One is to look at what is already posted, but another is to propose your own! If you know the type of work you want to do or where you want to work, you can reach out to an organization directly and ask about remote opportunities. However, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when navigating this process.
- Handshake has a ton of opportunities for remote jobs and internships that are especially targeted to students and recent graduates. Use the labels “remote full-time” and “remote internship” to find positions.
- LinkedIn: By selecting “Remote” as the location, you can find a variety of virtual work opportunities on LinkedIn.
- The US Department of State offers several opportunities for students to contribute virtually to projects around the world.
- Internships.com has a huge variety of internships, including remote opportunities.
- Careergate: Check the “Remote Work” box to find a variety of job and project opportunities for remote project experience.
- Idealist: NGOs and Nonprofits can be great organizations to get involved in remote work that you’re passionate about.
- FlexJobs.com lists many remote and short-term work opportunities.
This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.
Things to Keep in Mind
- Come with a plan. Whether you’re asking to adapt an in-person internship or to create a new remote opportunity, it’s important that you come with a plan and ideas in mind. Consider how the tasks you would complete in an in-person internship could be adapted to be remote, as well as other projects you could take on. If you can present these ideas to a potential employer, it shows how independent and motivated you are, and makes it easier for them to see your value!
- Think outside the box. Be creative with the types of projects you propose, as well as with the types of organizations you approach. You have a unique and valuable skillset, so think creatively about how you could use it, and where! If you’re a talented writer, you could create articles or update the text on an NGO’s webpage. If you know how to process data or are a master of social media, you could help a new company gain insight to their customer base. Think big and small, private and public, local and international! The opportunities are endless.
- Develop new skills. If you don’t have a ton of technical skills, that’s okay! You’ll learn a lot just by working in a remote job or internship. You can also take free courses through sites like LinkedIn Learning (which you have access to through UW-Madison) to learn or how to effectively use programs like Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, and other software that would be helpful in your role.
- Be flexible. The needs of an organization can change drastically depending on the time of year and what projects they’re working on, and the work you end up doing may not always be what you had in mind. Your tasks can change a lot throughout your job or internship, so it’s important to be ready for whatever comes your way!
Tips for Success
If you succeed in finding remote work, congratulations! However, there are a few additional tips you’ll want to keep in mind so that you have the best experience possible.
- Create a schedule. It can be easy to lose your motivation or get overwhelmed when you don’t have an in-person team to help you set your goals. Creating a schedule for each day that lays out when you’re going to work and what you hope to accomplish makes it easier to stay on track and balance your responsibilities.
- Find creative ways to connect. When you aren’t working with an organization in person, it can be hard to network and connect with your coworkers. Set up times in advance to check in with your supervisor, and find ways to get to know your other colleagues as well! This can be anything from a 10-minute virtual coffee meeting to more formal informational interviews, but the more you can connect with everyone the better your experience will be.
- Take initiative. The best way to make sure that you gain a lot from your remote work experience is to take initiative with your projects. Do the work that’s assigned to you, but also keep thinking about new ways that you could contribute to the organization! This can help make sure that you stay excited about your projects, and show your supervisor what a valuable asset you are.
- Ask questions. If you need help figuring out the next steps for your projects or if you have ideas about something you’d like to work on, ask! Though it can be intimidating to reach out to your supervisor if you haven’t met them in person, you want to make sure that you’re doing the best work possible. They’ll appreciate that you’re taking the initiative and care enough to get it right!