We’ve been buzzing about virtual internships since last year, and 2021 is looking even better with King’s students having access to lots of exciting work opportunities online and during our Internships & Placements Virtual Festival! But did you know there are two (two?) kinds of virtual internships? Read more to find out!
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual internships were on a steady rise. But as we all know, lockdown regulations and students logging onto university from various continents, virtual internships for students have become the norm. We all have an image of what a virtual internship looks like from the outside: you, on the dining room table or a sofa, logging onto a laptop for a virtual meeting or to check emails. But what about the actual experience itself? When it comes to the type of experience, a virtual internship might mean one of two things.
Traditional internships turned virtual
Firstly, the term ‘virtual internships’ can refer to a traditional internship that is happening remotely, perhaps due to lockdown regulations. Since March 2020, a lot of employers shifted their employees to work from home and it has been a regular experience for many student interns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These kinds of internships can be really valuable as you will work directly with an employer and add value to their organisation. You might be worried about not having the same experience or creating connections in the same way as you would in a face-to-face internship. It is true that there are additional challenges to taking part in a virtual internship, and it might be harder to remain motivated during a virtual opportunity. However, it is possible to make connections and network during virtual internships – you’re just going to use different platforms and a little bit of creative thinking. Most employers are now used to communicating remotely and will actively support students through their virtual internship experience.
Virtual, simulation-based internship experiences
Virtual simulations or experiences, such as the King’s Internships: Insights programme or Forage are different from the above types of virtual internships in the sense that you are “trying out” the work without actually producing something for an employer. This means you are not actually in employment legally, but you are nevertheless developing transferrable skills in a work simulation setting. For example, this could mean problem-solving tasks, attending webinars, working with teams remotely and beyond. In addition, you are taking part in tasks or experiences to see if a particular industry or job role could be right for you.
To learn more about virtual internships, check out what King’s student Ria had to say about her virtual internship experience in Summer 2020.
Employer’s view on virtual internships
It’s important to remember that every small thing that you do for your career development matters. Employers know this, and they value both types of virtual internships. As with any other type of experience, you will have to describe and show employers why the virtual internship you undertook is valuable to really get the benefit of your experience. Emphasise the knowledge, attributes, skills, and experience you gained: did you gain skills to cope with remote working, such as time management or virtual interpersonal skills? Or did you learn industry-specific skills?
Want to check out virtual internships at King’s? Head onto our Internships and Placements Festival! Also, check out King’s Internships on KEATS to learn what virtual experiences you can apply for today!