Internships can provide you with a range of skills necessary to succeed in the workplace that you often can’t get from academic studies.
They can help you build your understanding of workplace culture, develop your communication, time management, problem-solving skills and expand your global fluency.
Crucially, internships also offer students the opportunity to network with people in relevant professional circles, which can potentially lead to additional work placements and career opportunities.
The nature of an internship has been transformed dramatically during the pandemic – alongside the workplace and society in general. Many internships and placements are now being offered remotely.
According to Forbes, 36 per cent of employers in the US were providing virtual internships in the summer of 2020. With more and more companies now choosing to switch to or continue using a remote working model, it seems that virtual internships are here to stay.
So, how do you go about finding a virtual internship, and what are the benefits?
Finding a virtual internship
In the past, obtaining a “traditional” internship often required having a personal connection to someone within the industry you wished to join. Thankfully, the notion of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is no longer the only route into your dream career.
While the old routes of contacting career services, researching companies and connecting with alumni still exist, nowadays students are also able to search online and connect through social media such as LinkedIn. We recommend starting with a few choice keywords in your search, such as “virtual internships” or “remote internships”, followed by your industry of interest.
This transformation of the workforce demands a new set of skills and tools to successfully complete tasks. Tasks will be completed via online platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack, to mention a few.
Many students will be familiar with these platforms, but when undertaking a virtual internship, you will learn how to use these online platforms in a professional setting and therefore build the technical and social skills required for the modern workplace.
With the expected continuance of remote working and learning, fluency with these types of software and programmes will make your life much easier and help you to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.
An essential skill for any workplace (and in general) is time management. During your virtual internship, you will be personally responsible for monitoring your own time and scheduling, as well as staying focused to meet important deadlines.
Undertaking a virtual internship can open doors for you to experience opportunities that simply weren’t available before. This is especially true for international students, as it means that distance and relocation costs are no longer an issue or a defining factor.
You are now able to target and seek an internship in your dream industry or company, regardless of the location or time zone. Additionally, one of the most obvious benefits of a virtual internship is that it saves time and money on associated costs with commutes to the workplace, which is also more environmentally friendly.
Undertaking a virtual internship shows future employers that you are proactive, resilient and resourceful. Virtual Internships reports that 28 per cent of their interns were offered an extension of their internship, moved into a part-time role or hired full-time post-programme.
This transition from internship to employment provides opportunities to build a professional network during your placement.
Most importantly, it can help you learn more about yourself, what projects you enjoy the challenge of, and others you would prefer to avoid in the future. A virtual internship lets you explore which types of companies you feel most comfortable in, whether a small start-up or a large corporation.