Remote externships can save the high school ‘Class of Covid’

“The great part about remote externships is that they’re location agnostic. This means they really do encourage the best candidates to apply.”

Internships. The age-old rite of passage for college students looking to join the workforce. For generations, students have spent their summers during university shadowing executives and making themselves as indispensable to an organisation as possible, so they can lock down a full time job offer when they graduate. But students have also long been restricted by geographical and economic constraints when it comes to securing solid internship opportunities.

The fact is, running large internship programs are an incredible strain on resources for companies themselves.

Enter remote externships – an affordable, convenient, flexible way for teens to gain real corporate work experience – including internationally – irrespective of where they study or live as early as high school. 

Here’s why the “Class of Covid” should have at least one remote externship on their resume before applying to college.

They make high schoolers better college students

Experiential learning teaches young adults skills that are essential to navigating through college successfully and are a great way for teens to break out of the cocoon of their local high school and engage with business leaders and peers on a global scale. 

Melissa Zak, an undergraduate admissions officer at the University of Nottingham in the UK, says that applicants who list remote work experience on their resumes are generally regarded to possess skills like independent learning and self-motivation. 

“In terms of future applicants, those who can show they have the capacity for independent study, through activities such as remote externships, will be viewed positively,” she said.

“These skills not only help to develop an applicant’s profile for university, but will highlight to future employers the applicant’s adaptability to changing circumstances.

They level the playing field

Angel, a high school student from Dulwich College International in China, who completed a remote externship at a US firm, says the experience helped her familiarise herself with American work culture.

“This will really help me when I move to the States to study and it will also help me get future internships in college because I’ll be an international student who already has US work experience on my resume,” she said.

The great part about remote externships is that they’re location agnostic. This means they really do encourage the best candidates to apply. Students who go to high school in small towns can work a Silicon Valley or Wall Street externship and international students who want to attend college abroad can gain work experience in the country they hope to eventually study in, from the comfort of their homes

They prevent students from making expensive mistakes when applying to college 

Over 80% of students say that getting a job is a key factor in their decision to attend university, but those who enter college without any work experience become disillusioned when they discover their preconceived notions about a particular career path are unfounded.

Remote externships are the best way to expose students on the cusp of making decisions about their future to modern career paths that they might never have heard of within the bubble of their local high school, setting them up to structure their higher education choices so they have a chance at a global career. 

They are the perfect bridge to a first job

Remote externships are shorter than traditional internships and entail the completion of a specific project in order to gain a certification. They tend to be well structured and students have clarity on what is expected of them right from the get go. Because they’re remote, they encourage students to use their time efficiently and ensure that they don’t waste hours on menial tasks like running photocopying errands, or in transit.

Tejpaul Bhatia, who works with Google’s Office of the CIO, notes that the only way for students to discover whether they like something or not is to try it out, “probably more than once and without judgement”.

“The value of a high school externship today is that you start your professional journey of self awareness early and you may actually stumble upon an opportunity that you love and have the power to have a significant impact on,” he said.

“I’d tell high school students to treat every experience, no matter how big or small, as an opportunity to learn about themselves.”

Matt Wilkerson is an ex-finance-guy turned serial entrepreneur, who cofounded edtech platform Paragon One to provide flexible and accessible remote externships that help students gain hands-on work experience before graduating.