You may have heard of them- but what exactly are virtual internships and how do you find them?
If you’re feeling in the dark about virtual internships this blog compiled by University of Leeds colleagues Suzie Bullock, Careers Adviser Team Leader and Alison Kusinska, Employability Assistant is a great starting point to boost your understanding.
We know the internship, placement and recruitment world has changed significantly over the last few weeks, and this may have altered or paused your plans to undertake a placement this summer and beyond. At a time when it may feel like the world is coming to a bit of a stand-still due to COVID-19, it is important to remember that many organisations are continuing to recruit, albeit slightly differently.
After an initial pause in recruitment, many internship and placement programmes are still planned to go ahead this year in the form of a virtual internship or remote working opportunity. Read on to find out more about virtual internships, how they can boost your employability and where you can begin your search for your next opportunity.
What is a virtual internship?
A virtual internship is a fixed period of online work experience (project work/tasks) or work-based training offered by an organisation lasting typically anywhere between a week and three months but could be less than a day. You should have regular meetings and support from the organisation.
They vary considerably in content, duration and financial reward. Some may have fees or costs for you to pay. This can be related to provision of 1-1 coaching and access to skill development programmes etc. The advantages of working and training with a company can make a key difference to your CV or LinkedIn profile and your future employment prospects.
Do your research
However, we strongly advise you to conduct your own research and make an informed decision before taking up an opportunity. Try to get a recommendation where possible (we will be publishing case studies as and when we can) and remember University careers staff can support you in this decision making.
Are virtual internships in certain sectors/ industries?
Industry sectors, such as IT, have long offered remote jobs/internships but opportunities are expanding and available in a wide range of fields including legal, financial, marketing, science, software development and data science, insurance, environment and sustainability, engineering and the third sector.
When do they take place?
You can participate in a virtual internship part-time during term time to fit alongside your studies at any time of the year. Occasionally there may be some full-time opportunities, but these are usually over the summer vacation.
How can a virtual internship develop my employability?
- You can gain work experience and commercial awareness in a convenient setting (normally your home). As the internship is completed online, you are not required to be physically present at the job site, allowing you to save time and money particularly in travel and housing costs.
- They are flexible in allowing you to develop your own schedule (time management) to a certain extent, although this will vary according to the individual opportunity. This may help if you are undertaking study alongside or if you have caring responsibilities.
- You can gain and develop skills in the career sector you want to pursue, improving your graduate employability. It’s also a great opportunity to explore an industry or role that you might not be 100% committed to yet, so helping you define your career path.
- They can help you build your confidence in work-based skills. Working remotely involves a range of communication skills, which may benefit those who prefer less face-to-face interaction. That said, many methods of communication are still possible e.g. email, video meetings, phone, project management tools, and instant messaging etc.
- Advance your knowledge and skills on new virtual communication technology and software.
- Gain a global mindset, which could inspire further international opportunities if you work with a globally based organisation.
- You may have access to valuable work-place mentors.
Where can I search for opportunities?
The Leeds Internship Programme Internship and placement opportunities only open to students studying at the University of Leeds. Some organisations are changing their opportunities to remote working or pushing start dates back to late summer.
MyCareer some of the internship opportunities currently on MyCareer may offer virtual working. You are encouraged to regularly search through the vacancies or to sign up to a weekly job summary e-mail.
Insidesherpa.com e.g. KPMG data analytics ·
LinkedIn (Filter on virtual internships)
Indeed.co.uk (Filter on virtual internships)
Frontline Virtual Insight Days these are intended to provide BAME students with an insight into a career as a key social worker.
Conservation Careers – Bloggers (online internship) Application deadline 31st May.
GoinGlobal this is free for students. Search in the job or internship section for ‘virtual’.
Student Circus create a login using your @leeds.ac.uk e-mail address. There are about 50 different internships for international students in the UK. While most are not ‘remote’, some may consider remote working if hired.
Puentes Remote Internships are with Argentinian and Uruguayan companies Puentes Abroad. The application deadline for Puentes remote internships for this autumn is July 20, 2020.
How do I access support to find and secure a virtual internship?
If you have achieved a score of 60 or more on VMock and are applying for a specific post, we can help you tailor your CV, covering letters and/or application forms. You can either send your documents in for reviewing via the MyCareer Questions service or you can book an application support appointment on MyCareer (It will be via MS Teams or telephone guidance).
Now that a lot of recruitment has moved online, many employers are turning to telephone and video interviews. You might want to practise your skills via our video interview.
If you have an interview for a specific role, you can also book a mock interview on MyCareer. You will need to attach the job description and your CV.
Career guidance discussion
We know a lot of your plans might not be working out as you envisaged, so you can discuss your thoughts on your career path and next steps with your faculty Career Consultants. Make an appointment on MyCareer.
As we hear from students, who are doing virtual internships, we will publish case studies on their experiences.