By Alicia Dobson/Contributing Writer
In an attempt to branch out beyond journalism, Olga Castro, a senior double majoring in international relations and journalism, completed a virtual internship with the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
From the comfort of her home, she was responsible for transcribing and organizing a huge archive of audio interviews from U.S. Embassy employees working in Kabul. The project aimed to create a retrospective product that could be used to evaluate mistakes made in Afghanistan and prevent them from happening again.
“You can sit and listen in classrooms, but once you actually get out there, it’s a different world,” said Castro, describing the value of the experience.
Having worked for The Beacon herself, she says that she came into the internship as a journalist, skeptical of the government and left with a new and refreshing outlook.
“[The internship] broke down all of the misconceptions I had about people working for the government,” she said.
She listened to audio reflections about topics ranging from agriculture to women’s rights. Through the internship, she accessed primary information and analysis about the nature of life in Kabul.
Having examined dozens of files from U.S. workers in Afghanistan, she was most surprised to discover how much everyone seemed to care about their particular fields.
“Once [I got] down to an individual basis, I found that these people genuinely care about the civilians in Afghanistan,” she said.
Castro raved about the experience, recommending it to anyone considering government work. Stuck between a love for writing and a fascination with the Middle East, Castro was able to explore Afghanistan without leaving home thanks to the online nature of the internship.
Online interns, or e-interns, receive professional experience without having to be physically present in an office. Virtual internships are ideal for students with busy work schedules or who need to avoid commuting or relocating complications.
“Although I never saw my supervisors in person. We constantly emailed and scheduled times to talk on the phone for status updates,” said Castro.
According to Castro, “many people see virtual internships as lacking intimacy, but [her] professional experience was still extremely beneficial.”
Virtual internships save interns and employers a lot of time and money, particularly in industries such as journalism where most of the work can be completed and reviewed online.
The site recently partnered with Chegg.com, a textbook rental company claims that, “instead of being concerned with travel, housing or office arrangements, virtual internships allow interns and employees to focus on the work at hand.”
“I wanted to study the Middle East and [this internship] gave me the opportunity to experience one of my options government work,” Castro asserted.
Castro interned as a part of a Virtual Student Foreign Service led by the State Department’s Office of eDiplomacy, and there are tons of similar opportunities in a number of different fields.
Having completed the internship, she feels compelled to further her education by studying the Middle East and is now seriously considering a government job reflecting the one she recently finished with the U.S. Embassy.
For more information about virtual internships or to find virtual internship opportunities, visit internships.com/virtual.