TWC Survey Shows that Virtual Internships Have Value

September 14, 2020 The Washington Center

TWC Survey Shows that Virtual Internships Have Value

How does a remote internship stack up against the in-person experience? We surveyed our students to find out. 

This past summer, lots of college students had to shift their plans. The traditional, in-person summer internship wasn’t possible for most students because of COVID-19.

At The Washington Center (TWC) nearly 300 students in the Academic Internship Program (AIP) and nearly 580 students in federal agency internships chose a virtual internship experience. 

But, how does a remote internship stack up against the in-person experience? We surveyed our students to find out — here are the top three takeaways:

1. Students Are Anxious About Entering the Workforce

COVID-19 has had a ripple effect through the U.S. job market and economy. Even though they’re not in the workforce yet, students are worried about how COVID-19 might affect their future career and job prospects. In a survey taken at the beginning of the summer, over a third of students report high or severe levels of anxiety when it comes to starting their careers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Students Are Anxious About Entering the Workforce

2. Students are Confident in the Value of a Remote Internship Experience 

Over 60% of students surveyed believe that a remote internship is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than an in-person internship. Moreover, 4 out of 5 students say that the work they completed remotely is just as robust (and sometimes even more robust) than work done in-person. 

One concern with remote internship experiences is that students will feel less connected and less engaged - our survey results reveal that is not the case. Over half of the students surveyed strongly agree that they felt included in the organization where they were working remotely, and 92% felt engaged at their remote internship. 

Over 60% of students surveyed believe that a remote internship is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than an in-person internship.

TWC Summer 2020 Student Survey

3. Remote Internships are a Robust Alternative to In-Person Internships 

Survey results show that across the board, students report an increase in all nine career readiness metrics since the beginning of the program. These include: their ability to collaborate, their skill with technology, their capacity to adapt to a new environment, their willingness to be self-sufficient, and more. And in the end, 63% of students report an increase in their ability to compete in the job market. 

The Washington Center offers more than just an opportunity to intern. Students at TWC also attend career readiness workshops every week and are guided by a career advisor. On average, students rate their career readiness workshop 4.3 out of 5 stars, and over 80% of students find their dedicated career advisors to be a valuable resource. 

In terms of what students think about TWC’s career readiness program, professional development workshops such as LinkedIn training and mock interviews, along with one-on-one career advising, are most helpful.

On average, students rate their career readiness workshop 4.3 out of 5 stars, and over 80% of students find their dedicated career advisors to be a valuable resource. 

TWC Summer 2020 Student Survey

A remote internship can’t quite replace all the microcosmic moments that make in-person internships special. But, remote internships lend themselves to different kinds of work, allow students more autonomy, strengthen their communication skills, give them ownership over their projects and perhaps most importantly, agency to continue their career journeys in a time when everything else has been disrupted.

Though most students are probably hoping that they get to return to in-person experiences soon, this summer is a good indication that remote internships are effective. In the future, as remote work becomes more popular, remote internships might just be the next big thing. As one student put it in their post-program comments: “TWC helped me to see the opportunities within the chaos.”

About the Author

The Washington Center

The Washington Center is the largest and most established student internship program in Washington, D.C. Since our founding, we've helped more than 60,000 young people translate their college majors into career paths. We use our scale and expertise to customize each student’s experience to be truly transformative.

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