Online Internship vs On-site Internship: What Works Best For You?

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Image Credits: Pexels

In today’s era of digitisation, most services are offered online. It is quite common to turn to the Internet for all sorts of matters, whether it be grocery shopping or passport renewal. This has also become the case for internships. For those who do not know  “An internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. An internship gives a student the opportunity for career exploration and development, and to learn new skills.” as per the website of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

The COVID-19 pandemic further popularised WFH (work from home) or remote work which led to the rise of online or on-site internships. As opposed to the traditional on-site internships of the past, this new form offers both parties a respite from physical interaction. It enables work to occur solely through online communication. For students new to the professional world, it may take time to decide which form of internship is suitable for them. Here is a side-by-side comparison of Online vs On-site Internships.

Schedule

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Online

  • Interns can plan and manage their schedule on their own and typically work hours aside from the standard 9-5 workday.
  • They can get involved in multiple engagements as they are not bound by office hours and can manage their workload effectively.
  • They can work flexibly according to their convenience, provided they meet their deadlines.
  • Due to the lack of commute, the intern can devote that time and energy to their work.

On-site

  • Interns are required to be physically present in the office according to the office hours assigned to them and work with few breaks.
  • Their free time begins after they leave the office and they need to take leaves if they are unable to be present during office hours on a particular day.
  • They may have to work overtime if they have been unable to complete the assigned work during the day.
  • Plenty of time, energy and money is spent on commute.

Communication

Online

  • All of the communication occurs online through emails and meetings. Sometimes this leads to inefficiency as interns/higher-ups may take time to respond leading to delays in work.
  • Due to the online nature of the interaction between the company and the intern, there may be a disconnect between both parties and miscommunication may occur as well.

On-site

  • On-site work environments can get fast-paced as communication is direct and instant. Interns can get immediate feedback on their work which helps them to improve.
Image Credits: Pexels

Skills

Online

  • As opposed to on-site work in which the intern is under constant supervision, he/she/they may get lax and perform their tasks slowly or incorrectly. An online intern needs to have discipline and a willingness to work.
  • Social skills may suffer as in-person communication does not occur.

On-site

  • Due to constant interaction and increased rapport with colleagues, an intern can work in line with the company values.
  • They develop valuable interpersonal skills by observing and participating in the company’s work culture.
  • They are able to observe and adopt the behaviour used by their senior colleagues while working.
  • Interns can also learn important work skills and techniques used in their field from their senior colleagues.

Resources

Online

  • As the work occurs completely remotely, interns need to provide the resources required for the internship such as a phone or laptop and a working Internet connection. 

On-site

  • Interns are provided with a laptop in some cases and other necessary resources such as an Internet connection.
  • Most offices supply their employees, including interns, with snacks and beverages.

Location

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Online

  • Interns can work from wherever they wish, provided they are in constant touch with their higher-ups.
  • Their workspace need not adhere to professional standards. It can be cosy and has to be comfortable for the intern.
  • Due to the lack of a work environment consisting of other employees, such interns miss out on important communication and behavioural skills.

On-site

  • Most interns are assigned a specific cubicle or workspace in the office space. This is where they are supposed to work from.
  • By being immersed in the work environment, an intern develops valuable workplace and interpersonal skills. 

Internships are very important for students who wish to learn more about their chosen career path. They provide exposure to the workplace and the challenges that come with it. Internships are opportunities to learn essential skills as well as a chance to determine whether the career path chosen by the student is the right one for them. Choosing between an online and on-site internship is important as it severely impacts the work experience obtained by an intern and their professional growth. Both modes of work come with their pros and cons. Deciding between the two comes down to individual preferences and circumstances. Through this, students can earn the most out of their internships and work towards their future.

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