Internships are a chance to get your hands dirty, to get out in the field and see what it can really be like to work in your chosen field. Internships are about as “real world” and “grounded” as the college experience gets. When taking classes virtually, it is often hard to get those grounded, real-world experiences. That is why internships become all-the-more important for students enrolled in a degree online.
Fundamentally, internships for online students at universities work the same way as internships for institutions you attend in person. This may be surprising, but many online programs expect you to put in your hours interning at a real workplace, just the same as a traditional university would. There is no virtual surrogate for internship experience. There probably never will be a virtual surrogate for internship experience, either, since the whole point of an internship is to get your hands dirty at a real job and see how you like it.
Even though most internship opportunities have to be completed in person, the internship course at AIU gives you an opportunity to receive course credit for your on-the-job experience. Online students working on a Bachelor’s degree can be eligible to use an internship for class credit. Details about the AIU internship course can be found on our internship course page, or by watching the video below.
If you’ve decided that an internship is right for you, it is important for you to understand the steps involved to secure an internship. In a traditional university, relationships are often pre-existing between a university and a local employer, which can help students intern as part of a large group and a long tradition.
In an online university setting, the playing field is a bit different—you must often find your own local employer to work with. This process presents more of a challenge, but it can be more genuine and rewarding. When a student has to find his or her employer and reach out to them, the student is more likely to care about that job and want to keep it in the future. Employers could also be impressed by a student’s initiative in making the connection, which could help the student earn a paid position with that employer in the future, or further their skills.
Ironically, then, the internship(s) you undertake as an online student could be more authentic because of the personal effort that the student makes to earn an internship. Since you are doing more work to connect with your employer, and you are reflecting on your experiences in class, you aren’t as likely to just “go through the motions” with your internship as you would if you did not make the personal efforts. As online student, the internship experience may be able to be tailored to meet your needs, and it could likely serve you in your future career.
AIU provides additional information and resources to assist students with their internship search in a monthly webinar the last Tuesday of every month from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm CT.