Well, there is a big difference between the two of them and knowing that difference can save both you and your potential sponsor employer a great deal of grief and disappointment and, in the case of your employer, a huge waste of time, money and resources.
A "Virtual Internship" Is Only About Working in a Virtual Environment
A “virtual internship” means that you will be working for “some organization” in a “virtual” environment - meaning via the internet using various collaboration tools and that specific organization's homegrown policies and procedures, if any, for working in a virtual environment.
In 99% of cases, that organization will be a “brick and mortar” organization - meaning an organization which has one or more physical locations. With respect to the other 1% of cases, that organization will be a "virtual employer" organization - meaning an employer with no physical locations.
As well, the focus of the virtual internship is based on either your major or some other field of study. For example, if you are studying to obtain a degree in accounting, you will most likely seek an “accounting” internship. However, that being said, you may instead decide to apply for a “marketing” or “political science” internship. It’s all up to you and the organization that you applied with.
Personally, I've known of plenty of Political Science students who've sought accounting and public relations internships since there aren't that many political science internships available on the market.
As for the availability of "virtual internships" with "brick and mortar" companies and "virtual employers," more and more companies are taking the plunge and experimenting with this new mode of providing internships to students.
A "Virtual Organization Internship" Is All About "Learning About Virtual Organizations and the Virtual Organization Management Discipline"
Whereas, a “virtual organization internship” means that you will be working in a “virtual organization” environment - meaning that you will be working in a “virtual environment” for a “virtual entity” which operates in accordance with the virtual organization management discipline. Therefore, by definition, that organization or entity or business unit cannot be a "brick and mortar" organization.
Which brings us to the following definition of a “virtual organization”: A virtual organization is an organization which strictly consists of the following: 1) has a “virtual workplace,” 2) has a virtual workforce, and 3) operates strictly in accordance with the virtual organization management discipline. There is absolutely no room for ambiguity or equivocation.
And what do I mean by “operating in accordance with the virtual organization management discipline”? That means, “using standard best practices, policies and procedures for operating in either a ‘virtual’ or ‘virtual organization’ environment”; practices and policies which are based on a set of universal governing principles in order to accomplish a virtual organization's objectives, AND which apply to any organization in the world -- instead of just one specific organization.
Some of these "governing principles" are referenced in the following documents: “A Global Need for Principled Leadership” and “A Global Need for Principled Leaders.”
As well, the focus of a "virtual organization internship" is based strictly on teaching you (and you learning about) "virtual organizations" and the "virtual organization management discipline." The cost of providing such internship is very expensive to the employer and granting such internship (or allowing such internship to continue beyond a certain period of time) is taken with the utmost amount of care and scrutiny. In which case, providing practical experience, mentoring and education in your field of study becomes of secondary or tertiary importance. Therefore, outside of the original purpose of a virtual organization internship just enunciated, such internship can "only allow you to 'apply' your 'current' education and knowledge in a 'virtual organization' environment."
And last but not least, the performance requirements for a virtual organization internship are exponentially more rigid. The chances of completing a virtual organization internship at full term are much less than for standard brick and mortar or virtual internships.
A Clear Evaluation of Your Needs and Priorities Is Important
When you are only looking for practical experience. Therefore, as is the case for most students, if the primary purpose of an internship is for you to gain some practical experience in your field of study, or some other field, and it doesn't really matter to you whether or not the employer is a "brick and mortar" company or "virtual employer" or "virtual organization," then you are better off participating in a "Virtual Internship."
By all means, stay a mile away from a virtual organization internship!
When you are looking for convenience, better quality of life, and greater opportunities. If you are intently seeking a "virtual internship" for logistical reasons (cost savings, much more convenient, and provides a better quality of life) as well as to provide you with a greater pool and range of opportunities, in addition to gaining practical experience in your field of study; and it doesn't really matter to you whether or not the employer is a "brick and mortar" company or "virtual employer" or "virtual organization" as long as the employer allows you to participate in such "virtual internship"; then you are better off participating in a "Virtual Internship."
In today's day and age, millions of small-to-large employers are making these opportunities more common and available to students.
When you are looking to learn about virtual organizations and virtual organization management. On the other hand, if you are intently seeking a "virtual organization internship" opportunity for the express purpose of learning about "virtual organizations" and the "virtual organization management discipline"; and it does indeed make a difference to you as to whether or not the employer is a "virtual organization"; and gaining practical experience in your field of study is incidental to your quest and thirst for knowledge about virtual organizations and the virtual organization management discipline - a huge bonus of sorts since its net effect will be to allow you to "apply your education and knowledge" in that virtual organization environment; then your one and only option is a "Virtual Organization Internship."
In today's day and age, you can count "on one hand" the number of employers offering such opportunities around the world.
Why is that, you might say? That's because 99.999% of people and organizations - and until today, even you the reader - are not even aware of the difference between "virtual" and "virtual organization" as they apply to any particular subject or theme (internship, organization, employer, employee, executive, leader, project, campus, education, training, certification, leadership, seminar, conference, etc.). As far as they are concerned, "virtual this" and "virtual organization this" are both one and the same. The millions who represent that .001% of people around the world that we at Virtual Organization Management Institute (VOMI) have exposed to the distinction between "virtual" and "virtual organization" are yet to be heard, and we have much more work ahead of us in order to spread our message far and wide.
If you have a passion for "virtual organizations" and the "virtual organization management" discipline, then it’s worth all the effort and strength that you can muster in order to seek participation in a bona fide Virtual Organization Internship. You will become part of a very small and exclusive league of virtual organization professionals around the world.
But if you're only looking for practical experience in your field, then stay as far away as you can from a Virtual Organization Internship. Even if you were selected to participate in such internship, your chances of winning the million dollar lottery are much greater than your lasting in this internship for more than one full week.
on The New Virtual Organization World Consortium