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Credit: Alice Choi

As COVID-19 continues to restrict study abroad and internship options, students can participate in Penn Aboard's new Virtual Internships Abroad program, which provides them with work experiences at companies around the world. 

Participants will receive cross-cultural training and language education through the new program, which includes remote internships in business, law, tourism, fashion, sustainability, and more. Employers are based in Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Although the internships are unpaid, Penn Abroad covers the program fee for personalized matching and placement, cultural programming, professional training, access to language learning, and ongoing student support.

Hundreds of students have already applied for the program, which runs from four to 10 weeks over the summer, Senior Associate Director of Penn Abroad Erica Sebastian said.

The program is designed to offer students flexibility, allowing them to choose how many weeks they can work and how many hours per week from between 10 to 40 hours.

The application process includes submitting a resume, personal statement, interest survey, and short essay response. Applications are due on April 1. Once students are accepted to the program, they will be matched with an employer in one of the industries they ranked in their interest survey. 

Penn Abroad ran a virtual internship pilot program last summer, which Sebastian said paved the way for VIA to take place this summer. After Penn Abroad canceled all travel in summer 2020, 20 students who were supposed to complete an internship abroad through the Global Research and Internship Program completed their internships remotely, Sebastian said. 

College sophomore Jeffrey Fishman interned at Matriarca, a clothing cooperative in Buenos Aires, Argentina as part of the pilot program. Fishman worked as a marketing intern, helping the company enter the United States clothing market by analyzing various influencers' social media accounts and mom blogs. 

“I got a lot of hands on marketing experience that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten,” Fishman said. “I think having the freedom and independence to try different things and figure out if marketing was something that I really wanted to do as a career was the most helpful part of it.” 

College and Wharton junior Shaila Lothe also participated in the pilot program, interning at Start-Up Chile, a startup accelerator created by the Chilean government. Lothe researched venture capitalists in Latin America and ran an English program for entrepreneurs who were trying to improve their English and business skills. Through her work as an intern and her remote interactions with coworkers, Lothe said she was able to learn about  Chilean culture and refine her interest in a career in venture capital. 

“For students who are considering improving their language skills, a virtual internship can be a really great way to get that language exposure,” Lothe said. “Even though I couldn’t be there in person, I definitely felt like my language skills improved.”