In-class projects vs. remote internships: which is right for your business?

Work-integrated learning is more in demand than ever before, but what are the different options available while remote and which is right for you? Continue reading to learn about the use cases, similarities, and differences between two types of remote work-integrated learning: in-class projects and remote internships.
February 10, 2021
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With the transition to virtual work, there has been an increased interest in how students and companies can continue to collaborate when in-person internship placements are no longer an option. Students are eager to continue developing their skills as young professionals even when stuck at home and many businesses could use the extra support to tackle their ever-growing to-do list and achieve their business goals. 

Work-integrated learning is more in demand than ever before, but what are the different options available while remote and which is right for you? Continue reading to learn about the use cases, similarities, and differences between two types of remote work-integrated learning: in-class projects and remote internships. 

The benefit of working with students 

Both in-class projects and remote internships allow companies to harness the many benefits of working with students to address the needs and challenges they’ve identified in their business. Here are some of the shared benefits and similarities between the two experience types:

  • Project based learning.
    Both types of experiences allow for a project-based approach, where students work towards a well-defined deliverable. Project-based learning allows for companies to execute on specific projects that have a set goal to work towards, rather than simply assigning busywork to the students. This approach also allows for more flexibility in scheduling as the intern can structure their hours around concrete milestones and know exactly what they’re spending their time doing. Not only will this project-based approach give students more autonomy, but also requires less daily supervision as a manager. While this approach may require more upfront planning, it is well worth it for both student and manager. Time and structure are just a couple of the many benefits associated with project-based learning.
  • Fresh insights.
    Through engaging with students, companies can generate fresh ideas for problems they are facing. Students may be able to offer expertise in an area your team is currently lacking as well as provide a new perspective that has not yet been explored.
  • Employer branding & recruitment.
    Companies can develop long-term employer branding through their engagements with students and set themselves up as a desirable place for work for up-and-coming young professionals. Businesses can see how students work with their team first-hand and build a talent pipeline of potential future hires that they’ve already worked with.
  • Work with students globally.
    One major benefit with the shift to remote work is how geographical barriers have been significantly reduced. Companies are now able to collaborate with student talent just about anywhere in the world. For example, companies across North America collaborated with this UK-based university and a Texas-based company was able to work on market expansion research with students in Australia and China.

What’s the difference?

There is no question that there is great value with working alongside students through in-class projects or remote internships. We’ve outlined some of the key benefits and similarities above, but what are the key differences?

  • In-class projects.
    In-class projects bring real-world problems directly into the classroom. Companies can collaborate with a professor to present one of their business challenges as a project embed within the existing course curriculum.

    In-class projects are a great option for companies that would like to work alongside a professor that can assist in matching them to the best students for the job, help monitor progress, and support in ensuring the experience aligns with students’ learning goals. Having the professor as your main point of contact can be extremely helpful if you would like a little more guidance during your project. 

    Businesses can also explore the option of working with larger class sizes as you are not individually managing each student, but rather have the support of their professors. Working with larger classes may mean you gain more ideas, but the deliverables will be broader. This is a good option if you are looking to do a project that is more research or consultation oriented, as the best suggestions can then be actioned upon. Examples of successful in-class projects include how one CEO collaborated with students to work on over 15 projects in various areas or how a UK-based student gained global work experience through a market research project.

  • Remote internships.
    In a remote internship, the company hires a student or team of students to work on a specific project. This is great for tackling that growing to-do list of ideas with concrete deliverables that businesses simply just have not had the time or human resources to execute on yet.

    Rather than communicating through an educator, companies are managing a student or group of students directly, often a smaller group than for in-class projects. This smaller size and lack of an educator’s support will require more time from the company’s intern manager, but will also allow for you to have more control over the deliverables you receive.

    Remote internships are fitting for a company with projects that have concrete deliverables and know exactly what they want done by the end of the placement.You  are able to work closer with the students to provide feedback and ensure the project is on the right track. If you’re interested in maximizing the value of a project based remote internship, more tips are available.

Which is right for my business?

While both in-class projects and remote internships can create value for students and companies, it is important to consider your company’s current needs and how involved you are willing to be with the students. Here are some guiding questions to help you evaluate which type of work-integrated learning may be right for you:

  • Do I have the time to train and manage a group of students or would I prefer to have one point of contact that can support me in overseeing this experience?
  • Do I know how to structure this project so it is mutually beneficial to the students’ development or could I use some support aligning it to what they are learning?
  • Am I looking for many broad ideas from students for brainstorming purposes or do I know what I want and just need help from an individual or smaller team to execute it?

Now that you have a better understanding of in-class projects, remote internships, and which may be the right choice for your business, sign up below and create your free account today to start working with talented students.

Every year, Riipen helps deliver thousands of online experiential learning experiences, providing employers with fresh creativity, cost-effective solutions, and employer branding to up-and-coming talent. 

Riipen’s Level UP program, funded in part by the Government of Canada's Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (I-WIL) Initiatives program, is where Canadian employers can solve their business challenges in the form of fully-subsidized, short-term, on-demand Level UP projects online, in collaboration with top student talent from across Canada. Student collaborators receive a $1,400 stipend for each project completed, paid directly through Riipen, meaning there is no cost to your organization. Join Riipen's network of employers who have achieved their business goals with student talent through Level UP, and sign up below.

(Click here to check your eligibility now through a short survey)

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About the author:

Aaron Chang is a Marketing Intern at Riipen, as well as a fourth-year Business student at Simon Fraser University. He is passionate about spreading positivity and creating connections with others. When he has the time, he loves writing short stories, binging anime, and having a little too much chocolate.

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