With the novel coronavirus forcing global shutdowns of schools and workplaces, many students are turning to remote activities to keep busy and still have extracurriculars to include on their college applications. Fortunately, the number of at-home internships and extracurriculars has been growing steadily in the past few years, and there may be many more options for remote activities than you expect. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about remote internships and extracurriculars, including specific ideas to look into, how colleges will view remote activities, and how you can make them as impressive as possible, even if you can't leave the house.
Will Remote Activities Still Impress Colleges?
Many students worry that colleges won't see an activity (whether it's an extracurricular or a job) that they do at home as highly as a traditional activity. While it's true colleges value qualities like teamwork and winning competitions, both of which are easier to achieve when you're in close contact with other people, there are plenty of ways to make remote activities impressive to colleges. We give three tips on how to do this at the end of this guide, but know that, as long as you show a combination of dedication, skill, and leadership in an activity, it'll be legitimate to colleges, whether you did it remotely or not.
It's also important to note that colleges are well aware that, due to COVID-19, students aren't able to participate in extracurriculars for the next several months they way they might like to. Colleges won't hold this against you when reviewing your applications. If anything, turning to new remote activities shows your ingenuity and flexibility, which are both traits colleges like to see in applicants.
Extracurriculars You Can Do at Home
There are two main options for remote extracurriculars. First, you can take an in-person extracurricular and adapt it to one you can do (at least partially) at home. Second, you can also pursue an extracurricular that, even in normal times, is typically entirely or almost entirely remote. We discuss both paths in this section.
How to Turn a Traditional Extracurricular Into a Remote One
Even though you might no longer be going to school and are largely confined to your house, that doesn't mean all your current extracurriculars have to stop. There are three main ways to adapt a current extracurricular into one that you can continue at home.
#1: Make It Virtual
Although one of the best parts of extracurriculars is spending time with people you like, you can still accomplish a lot by making the extracurricular virtual. You can have video meetings and video workouts, keep up with other members over text, and turn in-person fundraisers/events into virtual ones. It may not be the ideal scenario, but, with today's technology many aspects of extracurriculars can be moved online for the time being. This will help you still feel part of the extracurricular community, and it'll allow the group to still get important work done.
#2: Focus on Preparing for Next Year
Maybe you had a big tournament or fundraiser that had to be cancelled. It can be extremely disappointing to have your plans changed so suddenly, especially if you've spent a long time preparing for the event. However, one of the best ways to improve your mindset is to look to the future. As long as you're not a graduating senior, you and your fellow club members/teammates can shift your focus to preparing for next year. Maybe you won't attend the regional competition this spring, but you can decide to focus on studying, practicing, and/or training so that you're in a great spot for next year's events.
#3: Focus on Your Part
It can be especially hard to keep a team-based extracurricular going when no one is able to meet in person. However, you still have control over how you stay in top form, whether physically or mentally. If you're on the soccer team and unable to meet up for games, you can still work out and practice on your own. If you're on academic bowl and can't host practice tournaments, you can still study on subject areas you need to brush up on. It's impossible to control the entire extracurricular, but if you just focus on making yourself as strong a participant as possible, you'll get back some feeling of control and can create new goals to work towards.
Remote Extracurricular Ideas
The sky is really the limit when it comes to remote extracurricular ideas, but here are a few to get you started:
- Create a blog
- Design a website
- What you can do depends largely on your community, but it can involve delivering groceries, calling senior citizens to check on them, fostering animals, and more.
- Start a podcast
- Play an instrument
- Join an e-sports team
- Design a new app
- Become an online tutor
- Join a political campaign as a remote volunteer
Internships You Can Do at Home
Remote internships have become much more common in the past several years, and you can find all sorts of remote internships. We recommend searching "remote internships" in the field you're interested in, such as "remote internships marketing" or by location, such as "remote internships Raleigh." You can also simply search for internships in your area/field and see if any offer a remote option. Below are four fields where remote internships are most common.
Business-Related InternshipsMany remote business internships are focused on marketing, which can include a sales and social media focus. These are all tasks that can be done fairly easily remotely, and they can be a great way to get your foot in the door with a certain business. As an added bonus, many pay an hourly wage.
IT InternshipsIf you have computer skills and the necessary software, you might want to apply for an IT internship. Your work can include anything from website design to tech support. They may also have a marketing component to them. Because of the specialized skills needed, these internships are often paid.
NGO InternshipsEven before the COVID-19 pandemic, NGOs were offering more remote internships. One of the reasons remote internships are appealing to NGOs is because it gives them access to more workers, especially for NGOs located in more remote areas. Also, because many NGOs don't have a budget to pay interns, not requiring interns to commute to an office can make unpaid internships more appealing. The work you do for a remote NGO internship will depend heavily on the organization, but it could include fundraising, helping to organize events, creating social media posts, and more.
Writing-Based InternshipsWriting-focused internships are ideal for doing from home because you can write on your own time and from your own computer and send in your work when it's complete. Blogs, newspapers, and basically any company that puts out a newsletter or articles can offer writing internships. Be aware though that these internships are often very popular among students, and because demand is so high, many of these internships are unpaid. However, they can lead to paid freelance or full time positions down the road.
Tips for Excelling at Remote Activities
Follow these three tips to get the most out of your remote extracurriculars and internships. These tips will also make our activity more impressive to colleges.
#1: Focus on Quantifiable Results
The best way to prove to colleges that your remote internship or extracurricular is more than just a hobby is to have tangible results that you can show. For an internship, that can be specific projects you worked on or ways you helped the company you worked for. For an extracurricular, participating in competitions or having audience engagement numbers (for a podcast or blog, for example) gives you evidence to show to colleges that you're committed to and excelling at it.
#2: Do Your Research
Remote internships and extracurriculars have become extremely popular in the past few years, and, unfortunately, that has caused some less-than-desirable options to pop up. For remote internships, research the company before agreeing to work for them. Try to find evidence of work they've already done, and read employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor. If it's a very new company, ask what their vision is for the future; they should be able to give you a detailed plan.
Never pay for an internship, even if you think it sounds very prestigious. These are often scams, and, even if they're not, you shouldn't need to pay someone for the privilege of working for them. This is less of a concern for extracurriculars, but again, be wary of any competition/conference/etc. requiring a lot of money to participate, especially if you can't find a lot of information about it online. Also, if you decide to volunteer, research the organizing you'll be volunteering for thoroughly before committing to it.
#3: Look for Leadership Opportunities
Colleges love applicants with leadership skills, and showing leadership in remote activities will provide further evidence that the activity, even if you did it entirely at home, was more than just an occasional hobby. Be creative in thinking of ways of leading your activity. Even if it's a solo activity, such as playing an instrument, you can take steps to create a band or offer tutoring to beginning players. Starting new clubs/competitions/fundraisers all show leadership as well. For internships it's a bit trickier because you're typically taking orders more than giving them, but you can still make small suggestions, such as organizing a weekly video chat during lunch breaks for coworkers to still stay in contact. For more ideas, check out our guide on getting leadership experience in your extracurriculars.
Want more extracurricular ideas? We have a guide with hundreds of extracurricular ideas!
Want to learn more about internships for high school students? Our guide to internships in high school has all the information you need to know about how to get a standout internship even before you start college!
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.