Remote Internships, Apprenticeships, and Freelancing: Gaining Real-Life Experience Online

Remote Internships, Apprenticeships, and Freelancing: Gaining Real-Life Experience Online

For some, the summer months are a time to unwind and vacation, but for many college students, there is a sense of pressure to use this time to fill gaps in their résumé. Internships, apprenticeships, and freelancing offer great opportunities to prepare for future careers. 


Employers are becoming more interested in candidates with real-life experience, but many graduates are finding it difficult to find internships that pay well and are relevant to their majors. In certain fields, like business, engineering, and computer science, paid internships are essential. Their many benefits extend to both interns and employers: Employers can more easily attract educated, professional students—including ones who cannot afford to work without pay—without the hiring commitment, and students gain not only valuable work and networking experience, but also compensation and possibly other benefits.

This summer may be different because of the pandemic, which is causing many in-person internships to be rescinded or furloughed until there is more certainty of the future. There is an active debate on the effectiveness of remote and virtual internships. Many happen to be unpaid, and one has to wonder if they will be as productive and provide the same experience that the interns would have gotten in person. 

According to Business Insider,1 these are the best industries to apply for internships in summer 2020:

  • Accounting and Legal
  • Manufacturing
  • Computer Software
  • Retail
  • Health Care
  • Government

Some industries can easily switch to remote internships, but not all. Prospective interns in more hands-on industries might wish to explore other avenues like apprenticeships.

Search for internships and read thousands of internship reviews here.


The focus of an apprenticeship program is to combine classroom learning with on-the-job training supervised by a mentor. It’s a dual-purpose opportunity that allows students to learn and master a valuable skill while also getting real-world experience.

Industries that offer apprenticeships:

  • Construction
  • Hospitality
  • Health Care
  • Automotive
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Energy 

Because apprenticeships are typically hands-on, there is concern that the essence of the program will not have the same impact if taught remotely. But off-site apprenticeships can be more accessible and may even aid those whose jobs will need virtual experience. As many jobs are slowly shifting to remote, it may benefit apprenticeship programs to be prepared for whichever way the trend flows. 

Read more about apprenticeships here: Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center: New and Expanded Content on Apprenticeships


Unlike internships and apprenticeships that are weighing the benefits and costs of remote working, freelancers could always work from home and create their own schedules. And the advancement of technology has given more people the option to do freelance work as a career or out of necessity (for instance, if they are laid off).

Jobs with freelance opportunities:

  • Software Development
  • Copywriter
  • Accountant
  • Social Media and Marketing
  • Graphic Designer
  • Professor
  • Programmer

What are the benefits of freelance work? The traditional 9–5 work schedule does not fit everyone’s lifestyle or financial needs. Freelancers no longer need to be stuck at a desk—they can work from home or anywhere there is Internet access. They can set their own schedules, work at their own pace, choose the projects they want, and at times, be their own boss. According to Forbes,2 “As of 2019, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing.” Another appeal is that one can work full-time and treat freelancing as a side job or an extra source of income. With rising costs of living and salaries that are not keeping up with the pace, there has been a surge of people who find freelance work as a dual benefit both to increase their income and to gain experience. 

Freelancers no longer need to be stuck at a desk—they can work from home or anywhere there is Internet access.

Why become a freelancer now? There has been a higher demand for freelancers lately, and in turn, they are being paid more. According to Fast Company, “…freelancers are earning more than they used to. Per hour on average, they make more money than 70% of all types of U.S. professionals.” The ability of freelancers to work anywhere in the world at any time allows them free range to pick up more jobs and projects.

Do you think students can get sufficient real-life experience from even virtual opportunities? What are your work-from-home experiences?

1. “8 industries hiring over 1,000 interns right now,” Business Insider, May 10, 2020,

2. “Full-time Freelancing Lures More Americans,” Forbes, October 5, 2019,