Many university systems across the globe readily adapted to virtual instruction, online and virtual classes during Covid-19. Conversely, however, few were quick and as agile to readily adapt their career programming to meet the demands of the job marketplace in transformation. This may have been to the detriment to their students' lifetime earnings potential.
Reduced hope of showing collegial camaraderie, decreased opportunities to build a long lasting social network, fewer chances to interact one-on-one with college professors, and decreased prospects for participating in college extracurricular activities represented just a few of the downsides of experiencing Covid-19 as a college student.
While these experiences lessened the overall enjoyment of college life, what was particularly detrimental to the traditional college experience was the lack of internship opportunities and subsequent job placement. Why was the negative impact so profound?
Because of the negative implications on current and future earnings possibilities.
Forbes suggested that widespread campus closures led to the dismantling of the traditional college internship during those years which we believe constitutes a basic failure to provide a rite of youth and young adult passage worthy of celebration and lifelong remembrance.
But where to we go from here? What should colleges and institutions of higher learning do now?
It can be argued that they should offer more remote internship opportunities or increase the occasions in which students can apply, demonstrate and perform work tasks related to an eventual job virtually. Why? Because remote work and working from home may be the wave of the future.
College students soon to graduate and embark on a career journey of full time work need to have exposure to remote work to demonstrate their employability. Presently there is a lack of clarity as to whether universities offer remote internships on massive scales to address real world job market conditions.
Just recently the Times Higher Education (THE) published an article begging universities and colleges to invest in virtual office and remote internship programs. THE argued that university systems have much to gain in doing do so. When promoting the availability of remote internships on their college campuses, they can make their college more attractive to top tier high school graduate applicants.
Zippia estimates that roughly 66% of workers based in the US work remotely, at least part of the time. Globally, 44% of employers still do not offer remote work at all. Still, given this figure, recent college graduates as soon to graduate college students would be remiss if they failed to obtain work from home, virtual, hybrid and remote work job experience.
Why? Because remote job experience is particularly important now as roughly 25% to 40% of all jobs can be performed remotely. It increases the likelihood that a job applicant will be hired by an employer when they also have experience working remotely. When remote job internships are provided these recent college graduates and college students can have the prior experience to demonstrate that they possess the soft skills (interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, diplomacy) to collaborate with their work colleagues remotely. Equipped with remote work experience, they can show that they have met performance standards when using and accessing digital technology. These skills are helpful to have and are proof that the student is employable and has added value.
What do students themselves think about remote internships?
Inside Higher Education provided the results of a 2,000 student survey showing:
- 38% of the student were at least somewhat interested in a virtual or remote internship while completing course requirements,
- 18% of the student were extremely interested,
- 34% would be somewhat interested in obtaining a fully remote job after graduation, while
- 15% would be extremely interested in securing a remote job after graduation.
Why is it important to give college students experience working remotely? They will be given the opportunity in a learning and non-financially punitive environment, the chance to develop these necessary skills:
- time management,
- self- determination and internal motivation, and
- digital literacy.