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Are you perhaps sitting at home wondering what to do during your summer break? Did you have big dreams about a summer study abroad program or internship and are unable to do so because it might be too expensive, or there are travel restrictions, or you do not have the flexibility in your schedule to travel? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then a virtual exchange program might be just what you are looking for!

What Are Virtual exchange programs & Internships?

Whether completed during the summer between semesters or taken concurrently with courses, internships are an outstanding means of gaining real-world experience in a professional setting. Internships, which frequently offer pay, college credit, or both, provide students with the chance to temporarily hold a job that directly relates to their field, providing you with an invaluable learning opportunity. As the popularity of online education continues to increase, both universities and employers have turned to technology to look for more effective and modern means of improving the internship process.

Virtual exchange programs and internships are similar to traditional in-person opportunities, with the obvious difference being the location. Students completing these programs work remotely from a location of their choosing and submit assignments and perform duties over the Internet. A recent report found that virtual internships have grown in popularity, and with good reason: they offer a number of benefits that make them a viable alternative to traditional assignments.

Intercultural engagement

Intercultural engagement

Virtual exchange programs allow you to connect with people from around the world, one of the big attractions of traditional study abroad programs are the opportunities they present for students to engage with different cultures and gain a different perspective, to see the world through a global lens. However, these programs can be costly, require time you may not have to travel, require you to be away from home for a long period of time or perhaps may no longer be viable at all in certain parts of the world due to strict travel restrictions. A virtual exchange program will allow you to connect with individuals and groups from around the world to discuss different topics, work on different challenges and projects and gain a different cultural perspectives and engagement with different communities in a virtual environment. You can read more about the benefits of an intercultural classroom here.

Mastering the art of being productive in a virtual workspace

Virtual workspace

Have you been wondering how to boost your resume and adequately prepare yourself for a competitive global job market? Do you want to ensure that you stand out from the crowd and are the top pick in the list of hundreds of applicants all fighting for that sought-after dream position at the best company? Most virtual exchange programs will include an online internship placement which will offer you the opportunity to gain invaluable practical experience in your chosen career or particular field of interest. In addition, these placements will significantly expand your professional network and allow you to become an expert in a virtual professional workspace, mastering the skills and technology that are required in the global economy and workforce of today. More and more companies are moving towards remote working conditions and are requiring employees to become competent working on digital platforms such as zoom, gotomeeting, google hangouts, and many more. Having an online internship under your belt will set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate to future forward-thinking employers that you are agile and competent in a virtual workspace. A decade ago companies or employers who promoted remote working environments were frowned upon, the general thinking was that employees would become distracted and would not be as productive. However today that thinking has shifted significantly, and a recent study conducted in the USA indicates that those that worked remotely were in fact more productive than those who were not. Virtual working conditions are going to become an everyday reality. Read more about how this shift is going to shape the future of remote work in this article in the Business news daily.

How to find a reputable virtual exchange program and online internship.

There will be some aspects to this new environment that you will need to get used to, some of these challenges may include adjusting to different time zones, overcoming language barriers, getting used to new technology, to name a few. To ensure that you are adequately prepared and have the support you need in order to perform at your best and make a good impression during your online internship, that you are able to communicate effectively,  engage in a meaningful way with multiple stakeholders from different backgrounds, it is important that you are adequately supported during your program. Working with reputable and experienced organizations that specialize in these types of programs will ensure that your program includes a support supervisor who will provide you with adequate training an onboarding before your placement and that any community engagement is facilitated by a community liaison who is there to support you with language barriers, discuss cultural difference and assist you in managing different time zones. Here is an example of a virtual exchange program which offers facilitated engagement, supervised online internships and customized career coaching and development.

The benefits of a virtual exchange program

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Work From Anywhere

Virtual exchange internships completely remove any geographical or physical restrictions that would otherwise prevent students from pursuing an opportunity. And just like on-site positions, virtual internships can open a number of career doors and introduce students to real-life experiences previously unavailable.

Flexible Schedule

Virtual programs allow students to work whenever they like. Between class assignments, part-time or full-time jobs, and between other obligations, college students are notoriously busy. In the past, overly demanding schedules meant that students did not have time to add an internship to their to-do lists, but online options make it possible to both study and work at a time of their choosing.

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Are more affordable

Virtual programs do not have the added travel, visa, insurance, accommodation and food costs that study abroad programs have making them much more cost effective and therefore more inclusive.