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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Schools
Merrick college student carves out a virtual niche
Binghamton senior gains a competitive edge with online internship
By Brian Racow, bracow@liherald.com
Courtesy Jessie Rubin
Jessie Rubin, a Binghamton University senior from Merrick, is working on a virtual internship this spring from Vestal N.Y., for a Washington, D.C.-area company.

Jessie Rubin, a 22-year-old Merrick native and senior majoring in English at Binghamton University, is spending her spring semester interning with Activ8Social, a social media marketing company based in Arlington, Va. What distinguishes her internship from those being completed by hundreds of her peers at Binghamton is that she has no hourly schedule to keep and no office to which she must report. She does all her work in the comfort of her apartment in Vestal, N.Y., just a five-minute bus ride from campus.

“It ended up being the best thing any college student can do,” Rubin said. “You can intern on your own time. They want me to do about 10 hours a week, but I don’t have to clock in. They give you an assignment, and you just have to get it done.”

Rubin, who graduated from Kennedy High School in Bellmore, is one of a relatively small but growing number of people, particularly college students and especially ones working with social media, who are engaged in so-called “virtual” internships, for which they work remotely and communicate with supervisors via a host of electronic methods. Rubin said that every Monday she has a weekly meeting with strategists at Activ8Social over Skype, and she uses email and Google Chat to stay in touch with them about projects that she is working on during the rest of the week.

The website urbaninterns.com, which connects companies with internship- and job-seekers, recently listed 205 postings that include the word “intern” in its “Find Jobs & Internships” database. Of those, 142 were categorized as “virtual.”

Many see the advantages of a remote internship, a concept made possible today by computers and the Internet. College students can intern in their spare time — earning resume credentials, or more rarely, academic credit or pay — while maintaining a full class schedule. Companies can tap into the social media know-how of college students to help propel their businesses forward. Interns can work for firms or organizations anywhere in the world without needing to leave their homes or change out of pajamas.

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