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‘Virtual’ opportunities: Students serve remote internships

02/04/15

Internships are critical to success beyond college, but fulfilling them can be difficult – especially when you don’t have a car or need to work to earn money for tuition during the summer months. To help, Career Services staff at MCLA’s Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) decided to secure “virtual” opportunities for students through their laptops.

C:\fakepath\Remote Internships P Loomis.jpgNot readily available to undergraduates at other institutions, these internships, served remotely, include those offered by local alumnus David Rubicki ’03. After meeting with students who belong to MCLA’s Computer Science Society, he took on seven as interns. They are earning college credits as they work for his start-up video gaming production company, Rebel Games Interactive (RGI.

As a concept artist for RGI, Patrick Loomis ’15 (top right) of Bennington, Vt., uses 3-D design software to create background art and various concepts of characters and objects.

According to Loomis, for the most part, this internship will be completed remotely. Meetings as a group are accomplished through Skype. By working from a remote location, he also can create a quiet and “more productive work atmosphere,” with fewer distractions than a busy office setting might provide.

Virtual internships such as this are a “perfect fit” for MCLA, said Manat Wooten, assistant director for CSSE/Career Services.

“Because many of our residential students choose not to bring a car to campus, in this way, they are not limited to doing internships only during the summer,” Wooten said. “Our office is hoping to grow more remote internships where students only need a laptop to perform them.”

Elizabeth Skakel ’15 (bottom right) of Lenox, Mass., expects to graduate in May with her bachelor’s degree in English/communications with a concentration in public relations and a minor in marketing. During free time after class on Tuesdays and Thursdays this semester, she’s a marketing research intern for the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC).  

C:\fakepath\Remote Internship E Skakel.jpgA commuter student, Skakel jumped at the chance to work with this new start-up non-profit organization, which will serve the Green/Clean Energy businesses of Northern Berkshire.  

“This internship is different than my previous internships because I can work at home and am able to set up meetings that work with my schedule,” Skakel explained. “It is flexible for me because I work part-time, go to school and volunteer for a non-profit, so it is important for me to budget my time appropriately.” 

In addition to conducting market research, Skakel compiles data and information in organized spreadsheets to suggest price structures. She communicates with local businesses and people primarily through e-mail and phone correspondence.

“This is different than a traditional internship because I feel that I am in charge of my pace of work and what I accomplish,” Skakel said. 

As she pursues work in the marketing field, “This internship is providing me with an advantage,” she added. “What I am learning is a real-life skill.” 

After he graduates this May, Loomis aims to find a job in the graphic design field. With the experience his RGI internship is providing, that could include jobs in the three-dimensional and digital art fields.

“I am sure that the connections I make with other interns, as well as the owners of the company, will be invaluable when applying for jobs in the future,” Loomis said. “I also will work with software programs that I have not had a lot of experience with, and this will open up doors for different types of career opportunities.”