Internships have evolved from the days of work shadowing in a dingy old building, running back and forth for tea runs and learning how to suck up to a rude boss. Now we have virtual internships (every introvert is punching the air and we’re right there with you). If you’re a student looking for valuable work experience without the constraints of a physical office, or needing all the moneyyyss for travelling expenses, virtual internships might just be your ticket to success.
Keep reading to find out exactly what a virtual internship is, why they are useful and how to find them. Spoiler alert, you can sign up for our 3-week Virtual Business and Marketing internship here.
What Exactly Is a Virtual Internship?
A virtual internship, as you might have already guessed, is an internship you can complete remotely, typically from anywhere with an internet connection. Instead of commuting to a physical office, you work online, attend virtual meetings, collaborate with a team (we know you might hate Zoom but at least you can wear your pjs and drink any unlimited amount of tea) and complete tasks as if you were right there in person. It’s a flexible, tech-driven approach to gaining professional experience.
Is a Virtual Internship the Same as a Remote Internship?
The short answer – not necessarily. Some companies may advertise a paid internship as remote – so you will be compensated like an employee but you’ll be working remotely, like our paid, flexible and remote internships at The Grad Soc. Or you might find an internship is unpaid (boooo) because it’s advertised as remote. For whatever reason (beats us), some companies think that an intern doesn’t need to be paid because you’re doing the exact same work as another else, but from home…. anyway….
A virtual internship, on the other hand, is often a training internship where you’re trained in specific skills. You may also be provided with tasks to complete that you can add to your CV or LinkedIn profile. It’s really important to get this clarification before you start as some companies use different terms for different roles. You may be able to figure out whether it’s a paid, remote internship compared to a training internship by looking at the role description or company website. If not, it’s worth dropping the team a message beforehand so you can manage your expectations.
Why Are Virtual Internships Worth Considering?
- Accessibility for Everyone: Virtual internships are ten times more accessible for students and grads. Not everyone lives in a big city or can afford travel expenses. You can intern for a company located halfway around the world without leaving your bedroom. Not to mention that you can say goodbye to commuting costs.
- Flexible Schedule: These internships often offer more flexible hours, allowing you to balance your studies and other commitments while gaining experience.
- Real-World Experience: You’ll still gain hands-on experience, just like in a traditional internship. You’ll work on real projects, contribute to the team’s goals, and develop practical skills.
How to Find Virtual Internships
Intrigued? We thought so. Here are 5 places to find a virtual internship…
The Grad Soc
Cheeky second plug. Don’t forget you can register to join our virtual Business and Marketing internship that runs every month and lasts for 3 weeks. During this internship, you’ll gain an understanding of target audiences, sales and marketing funnels, key performance indicators, social media marketing, content creation, content marketing, SEO, data analytics, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing and how to pitch and present… PHEW, that was a mouthful.
Online Job Boards
You can use websites like LinkedIn to find a virtual internship. Of course, LinkedIn has a job board but you can also search by using a hashtag like #virtualinternship to find companies, or team members from a company, who are advertising these opportunities. Remember, if you’re looking for a paid internship, you could also try to search for “remote internships.” You are more likely to find an opportunity that will compensate you and provide you with real responsibility – in comparison to a training virtual internship.
University Career Services
It’s always worth asking your university’s career service team if they know of any virtual internships for your chosen career path. Even if they don’t know what to suggest straight away, it is likely they will have connections who do.
Some companies may advertise virtual internships or training courses on their website so always double-check. It’s useful to make a list of companies you’d like to work for or learn about and research them first.
Use Your Networking Skills
There are a LOT of hidden opportunities, or even just very frequently advertised opportunities, out there. To make sure you’re not missing out on anything, ask around. For example, if you know of a LinkedIn influencer who talks about marketing, it never hurts to drop them a message asking if they know of any virtual internships They might know a friend, who knows a friend, who knows a dog, who knows an aunt, who is running the perfect course.
Tips for Success in a Virtual Internship
Virtual internships come with their own set of challenges and perks but here are some tips to stand out:
Make the Most of New Skills
A virtual internship is your chance to learn a whole bunch of new skills like effective communication, time management, self-motivation and independence. Use this virtual experience to gain real skills that you can talk about in job applications and interviews.
Get Used to a Professional Environment
Set up a dedicated workspace wherever you are working to create a productive environment free from distractions and become accustomed to this style of working.
Regularly Message Your Team
Stand out by regularly messaging your team to say good morning, ask about their day or arrange a virtual catch-up. Not only will this help you to get used to the differences in a professional conversation, but it will also allow you to build connections. Also, try to ask questions and actively involve yourself in the company. Tell your boss you are eager to help and that you are really passionate about the work. A genuine interest in the company and the team can get you far.
Share Your Ideas
If the company ask for feedback, tell them! If they ask for ideas from you, share them! Even when they don’t ask for your ideas, volunteer them anyway. It will look really productive and creative of you if you have a well-thought-out and well-researched idea. Who knows, a virtual internship could turn into a paid internship or permanent position in the team. Essentially, you have to show up every day with enthusiasm and passion.
This may be one of your first experiences with a boss or a team, really utilise this experience to progress. One way to do this is by asking for feedback and then use this feedback to improve your performance. All of this is just experience you can take into another internship or role.
Virtual internships offer really valuable opportunities to students and grads looking to gain experience. So, whether you’re a tech-savvy student or simply seeking a flexible way to gain experience, consider diving into a virtual internship and let us know what you think.