Virtual Internships: An ultimate guide

Jul 18, 2020

Welcome to Graduate Coach’s ultimate guide to virtual internships. It may seem that people are trickling back to the office. In fact, many companies don’t plan on returning to work until September

This may leave many graduates feeling worried that their job prospects are in limbo. But as an alternative, many companies are instead offering virtual internships.

This guide is to help recent graduates with this new reality of remote working. Managing to secure a virtual internship program could be a key stepping stone to a career path. It will also boost your CV and give you vital experience of working from home.

We will cover: 

  • Where to look for virtual internships
  • What you can expect in a virtual program 
  • How to do as well as you can
  • Why this will benefit your professional development 

6 places to find a virtual internship

Since the workplace went into lockdown many companies discovered that working from home was actually quite possible.

In this time there has been a significant boost in popularity with communication app Zoom. There is an apparent increase in productivity as employees are not calling in sick, or getting distracted in the office. 

At the onset of the initial lockdown, around 64% of UK internships and summer programmes were cancelled

But the initial sting of the coronavirus pandemic has hopefully ended. We here at Graduate Coach have noticed a recent rise in virtual internships. 

Many are part-time or for a longer period of time. Look below to see where you might find an opportunity:

#1: Insidesherpa

Insidesherpa offers virtual internships that mimic entry-level work at their partners. This is the sort of work that a graduate could expect to do during their first weeks on the job.

Insidesherpa offers virtual experiences in industries including:

  • Law
  • Tech
  • Finance
  • Accounting
  • Consulting
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • Engineering
  • Media

Some of the top virtual internships on InsideSherpa include:

  • The KPMG virtual internship – which is designed to take the mystery out of big data and teach you how to produce business results with the KPMG data analytics team.
  • The Linklaters virtual internship – This virtual experience is designed to show you what it is like to work at a truly global commercial law firm

#2: Chegg Internships 

The Chegg website is a great option for American graduates on the hunt for an internship. Furthermore for those from the UK, it has plenty of tips that all relate to virtual working. This can be CV samples, common virtual interview questions and how to follow up

#3: The Intern Group  

The Intern Group offers worldwide internship programmes, but with the difficulty of travelling many of these are not possible. Now they have virtual international internships available with over 3000 organisations, including SMEs to leading firms. 

#4: Bright Network 

A recent Bright Network report recently stated that the vast majority of graduates are feeling the pressure of finding a job. They have very recently launched an internship experience. This is designed to give graduates a three-day virtual experience working for many big company names. This includes Amazon, Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Google, Marks & Spencer and more. 

#5: Virtual Internships 

Virtual Internships’ founder gave a recent interview stating “virtual internships are for anyone and everyone”. They have programmes that last anywhere from 4-12 weeks, giving you at least 20-30 hours of work a week. They have partnered with companies in at least 18 career fields and well worth a look.

#6: Graduate Coach

We at Graduate Coach have seen how the tech and digitalised graduate markets have become increasingly popular. As a result, we now offer a graduate internship focused on digital account management, digital marketing and SEO. The aim is to make you stand out from the competition with relevant experience. We also offer interview coaching and CV editing.

What to expect in a virtual programme 

Considering that many workplaces have adapted to remote working, a virtual programme will imitate how a company now operates. 

The point is whether an internship is in person or not, the experience is ultimately invaluable. You should expect a rough assortment of the following:

  • Training via a multitude of e-learning platforms. This is likely to include Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, email and webinars.
  • Individual or team-based project work. It is unlikely you will be helping on multiple projects like in an office due to no face-to-face ease. 
  • According to someone who did a virtual internship in investment banking, there is plenty of one-to-one tuition. Much of this consultation will be with senior staff to help you better understand certain sectors of the industry. You will probably be in constant communication with a mentor (likely a graduate employee). 
  • Potentially digital networking meeting clients and employees from other businesses. 
  • Digital socialising, maybe team drinks after working hours!

This variety of involvement will allow a company to hopefully gauge you from both a working and personal level. Hopefully, if you make a strong impression, you may be invited to the actual office when they are operational.

Be sure to check out our best tips for working remotely so you can operate comfortably during your internship. 

5 ways to do well in a virtual internship 

Communication 

Make sure during your internship that you get the most of your internship by communicating. Use social media like Whatsapp if you think it’ll be easier for you to speak to a mentor that way. 

Ask your supervisors how they prefer to communicate (video chats, email, phone call) when you begin. Make sure you ask questions and show interest, it’ll show you in a positive light. 

Try and adapt to the company culture

Obviously, this isn’t easy in a virtual sense, but it is possible to a degree. Before your internship has started, research fully as much as you can about the company. You may feel cut off working from home, so try to get involved in digital socialising!

Get involved in every training module that may be available to you, even if it isn’t compulsory. This will show that you work hard.

Manage your time effectively 

Making sure you create a schedule is essential. Once you have begun a virtual internship you are no longer a college student. You will be expected to manage yourself and your assignments! 

When you have finished an assignment be sure to inform your manager/supervisor/mentor. You can use the opportunity to ask for more work! But never take on more than you can do. It can be daunting but if you feel you can’t handle a workload it is key you make that known. 

Never be afraid to ask for help

The point of being an intern is to learn. You can’t be expected to arrive and know it all. Of course, you should know what they may have asked you previously to know. But if something is unfamiliar, ask!

Find out (communication) what the best way to ask questions is, be it as a quick text or phone call. 

Keep track of your progress

It may only be brief notes, but make sure you know what you did and achieved in your internship. These achievements can always be added to a CV after you have finished the programme. 

Being able to display a good work ethic in a virtual internship will be appealing to other potential employers. Imagine what you can do in the office space!

How will a virtual internship benefit me?

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

A virtual internship is handy for many reasons. Most employers are aware right now that internal office experience is very unlikely. Being able to display a virtual internship or online course is a sign of productivity and involvement! 

If you have nothing to show for lockdown in terms of work it may be harder for you to impress an employer. 

The following are ways in which you could benefit from a virtual internship:

  • Develop important job skills: A virtual internship will teach you digital skills, communication and the use of certain platforms. 
  • You may be fast-tracked to the interview stage of a graduate scheme. Many employers find their future graduates through internships. 
  • Build a network: It might be challenging from a virtual perspective, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Ask which key individuals you should meet, ask for those who can help you with certain questions. Use LinkedIn to keep yourself on their radar.
  • Save money whilst using the time wisely! You aren’t commuting anywhere nor eating out. You can use the time however to work from nearly everywhere!
  • Develop a cross-cultural. If you manage to do an international internship, like with The Intern Group, you’ll meet people across the globe. 
  • Boost your CV! Make sure you get feedback from your virtual internship. This way you can put good feedback on a resume. 
  • Another benefit of virtual internships is that if you are changing your career, they can help you to gain experience in your field of interest.

All of this could prove invaluable, especially in comparison to not having any experience at all!

Are virtual internships worth it?

Overall, there is plenty here to see in this guide to virtual internships that explains why they are worthwhile! 

It is worth completing a virtual internship to boost your employability, develop your skills and gain new insights.

The world of work has drastically changed and with more people working remotely, a virtual internship can help you to develop the skills required to work remotely effectively.

If you feel speaking to us could help, then we are readily available with all kinds of advice. We understand this is a tough time as a graduate but can discuss how to improve that! 

How to prepare for a virtual internship

Afzal Hussein

Featured Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

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