‘Virtual internship’ has been one of many COVID-19 buzz words we have become familiar with since pandemic forced many students to abandon their traditional internship programs.
Traditionally, internships are an important way for students to evaluate different fields before making a career decision. For companies, internships are like an extended interview, allowing them to get to know potential hires through practical experience. For many students, such as B-school students (especially in India), internships are a compulsory part of students’ curriculum.
In light of COVID-19, many employers with internship programs are reconsidering their programs and deciding what to do next. Around 10% of employers have cancelled internship programs altogether, or are considering virtual programs.
When students were asked about internship programs, 89% of students pursuing a 2020 summer internship would prefer a virtual internship over a cancelled one. Instead of cancelling internship programs altogether, many employers are considering virtual internships instead.
At Shortlist, we started hiring virtual interns after the pandemic and are proud to host five interns who work across a host of projects for us.
What exactly is a virtual internship and how is it different from a traditional internship?
A virtual internship is when an intern works remotely for your company as opposed to working from your office. The entire internship is completed online, without the need for interns to be present physically at the job site.
Virtual internships are a great way for students to start their careers and learn the tricks of the trade from the comforts of home. In the age of digital jobs and remote work, virtual internships can be a great way to get that experience early on in your career.
How do employers benefit from virtual internships?
Workers on a need-only basis
All companies have projects which require grind work and when you have your employees work on those, it often takes away their focus from more important projects. These projects can often be executed by someone more junior, freeing up your more experienced staff to oversee the projects (instead of doing them) and concentrate on important projects. Virtual interns are great talent to plug into projects like this, which give them real-world exposure and help you get important work done.
Virtual internship programs offer employers the freedom to hire interns on a project and requirement basis and for a timeframe they would be comfortable with.
This way employers are not restricted to creating projects for internship programs specifically and benefit from interns the whole year round.
Larger applicant pool
With tradition (on-site) internships, employers have to restrict themselves to candidates who live close to the office or close enough to commute easily. With this restricted talent pool, companies may miss out on great talent that is based out of another city or region.
When working with virtual interns, geographic barriers disappear. Companies can focus on getting the best talent from across the globe to work for them.
As virtual interns do not sit out of your office, you don’t have to allocate workspace, and assets (laptop, basic office equipment, etc) to them.
With most remote internships, employers don’t have many expenses for the interns apart from the pay, saving on resources compared to in-person employees.
And, as long as work is tracked properly (there’s software out there to help), interns who work remotely will be paid for actual work done, eliminating hours of unproductive paid work.
In addition to hiring our own virtual interns, Shortlist has recruited over 1000 interns who are available for virtual internships. If your company is interested in setting up a virtual internship program or gaining access to our pool of virtual interns, get in touch with us here.
How do interns benefit from virtual internships?
Intern anytime, anywhere (from the comfort of your home)
A lot of candidates are looking for international work experience during their courses, but landing an internship in another country is not only difficult but also a considerable strain financially. Companies don’t always cover expenses for interns and internships don’t always tend to pay much (at least not enough to cover the expenses of moving to another country to do the work). (Not to mention that COVID-19 has halted most international work and travel plans for the near future.)
With virtual internships, candidates have the freedom to choose where they work. It is possible to get exposure to global teams and working styles from the comfort of your home, without any strain on your finances.
As a bonus, getting global exposure at the start of your career will reflect well on your resume (click for tips on how to put together a stellar resume).
Flex hours with no commute
Timings are often flexible for virtual internships (certainly more flexible than in-person internships). This means that you could potentially do a virtual internship alongside your studies and normal college routines without compromising them.
A lot of candidates also choose to do multiple internships together, utilizing their time to learn tricks of different trades, while they are in student mode. As a result, when they step out in the job market, they have a good idea of what kind of work they would like to do and a well-fortified resume with experience from multiple internships.
Think about all the time saved on a commute – it’s almost enough to get a second internship! Virtual internships can be a great way to save time and money and add to your CV!
Hone important job skills
Doing an internship virtually involves significant use and knowledge of digital skills. Increasingly, digital literacy is an extremely important skill when it comes to finding your first job. Working remotely helps you develop and build on these all-important skills.
They also boost your resume as you are able to demonstrate a variety of skills (learnt from multiple internships) that are valuable to employers.
Anyone who works remotely has to be focused and motivated to work and complete tasks without supervision. Virtual internships inculcate discipline, and ability to work independently early on in the career.
At Shortlist, we believe in the value of virtual internships. We are actively helping students and candidates interested in pursuing virtual internships connect with employers. Are you interested in a virtual internship? You can share your details here to sign up today.
Like any other internship, what you get out of it is commensurate to what you put into it. Virtual internships will continue to grow in popularity in years to come and may serve as a viable, cost-effective way for employers to conduct their internship programs and for candidates to get a far-reaching experience, valuable job skills right at the beginning of your career.