Are Virtual Internships Forming Part of our “New Normal”? – Part #2

If you did not have the chance to read part 1 you can find it here.

In Part 2 we feature some more experiences of students that have taken part in virtual internships and they provide us with insight on their key learnings.

Students featured in this article:

  • Builqis Jahan – “My name is Builqis and I’m currently a second-year BSc Chemistry undergraduate at King’s College London. I hope to eventually work in the pharmaceutical industry or as a patent attorney, but as you can imagine, internships in pharmaceuticals (anything involved labs) have been cancelled in light of the pandemic. So I’ve branched out into virtual internships in the tech sector, but pharma is still my main career prospect.”
  • Chandani Mittal – “My name is Chandani Mittal and I have just graduated from high school, completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma. I hope to continue my higher education in Business and Economics.”
  • Lubna Masood – “I’m Lubna and I have just graduated from the University of Westminster, with a First-Class Honours degree in Business Management with Law. Currently, I am looking for a graduate role within the Consultancy sector.  Due to the pandemic, many organisations have frozen their recruitment process or have stopped hiring altogether. I still remain optimistic about the future and I have utilised this time to acquire new skills through virtual internships.”
  • Temilade Adelakun– ” My name is Temilade Adelakun and I am a recent Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Ibadan. I am interested in being a business leader assisting with the advancement of technology in Africa in the nearest future and also making an impact and inspiring people.”

Have you completed a virtual internship, if so which companies and departments were they in? Why these in particular? How did you come across the virtual internship?

  • “Through InsideSherpa and my university’s careers’ platform (King’s Careers Connect) and virtual webinars, I’ve completed virtual internships by Rate My Placement/DBL and Bright Network in the wellbeing, technology and finance sectors. As mentioned earlier, labs have closed so I’ve had to adapt and find skills to gain from online courses and virtual internships, so I don’t buckle when looking for graduate jobs post-pandemic. Though the pharma industry is expected to remain robust amongst the economic downturn, I want to have my options open and so wanted to take part in internships in a range of different fields. These particular internships interested me as I started learning Python programming during the lockdown and wanted to put it to good use. Wellbeing is something that I think is important, especially during this pandemic, as it’s fragile and needs to be maintained if we’re to be productive, and most of all happy.” – Builqis
  • “Recently, I completed the Investment Banking Virtual Internship offered by Bright Network. Companies such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Macquarie and HSBC gave insight into the world of investment banking and financial services. Having no previous knowledge in the field, I found the experience informative and well-executed, considering the number of people present. I found out about the opportunity through social media.” – Chandani
  • “I have recently completed a virtual Information Technology Internship, organised by Bright network. Learning from Industry leaders;  Accenture, Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Google. I was able to gain valuable insight into agile project management, software development and cloud computing. I chose this internship as I wanted to develop new technical skills I can use in my career. Especially as the digital revolution has already begun, it is crucial to develop tech skills in any industry you enter. I came across this fantastic opportunity through my network on LinkedIn.” – Lubna
  • “I recently completed Bright Network technology internship experience UK and it was a great experience and worthwhile. I learnt from a lot of companies like Accenture, amazon, google, Goldman Sachs, Vodafone. The sessions were informative and insightful. The highlight for me was the task given which required us to place ourselves as a project manager of a large UK bank that wanted to release a facial recognition app. We had about 24 hours to deliver the task. This made me understand how to approach real-world problems. I came across this internship through a friend.” – Temilade

Have you completed a traditional (in person) internship before? It so, how did it differ from a virtual internship?

  • “I have not completed an in-person internship as the eligibility for many internships I was interested in required students to be in their penultimate academic year. I believe in-person internships are more similar to day-to-day life in the job, but it’s quite restricting and some don’t allow interns to complete work outside the box. However as there’s less room for monitoring interns 24/7 with remote working, there’s more flexibility when it comes to working outside of the list of tasks, after completing what’s necessary. This is also a great experience for introverts, who could take advantage of the 1:1 networking via video call at the internship by Bright Network and network in a less daunting way than usual.” – Builqis
  • “I have had experience with traditional internships before at a global think-tank. There are quite a few differences to be listed. First and foremost, everything has to be done on online platforms, whether it is communication with coworkers
    and other activities. It is a lot harder to immerse yourself into the environment and you have to be twice as proactive to be able to get out as much as you can from the internship. In most traditional internships you work in a smaller group of people, but having about 7000 people from nearly every part of the world at one place is a whole different experience. I had the chance of getting to know so many ambitious, like-minded people, who I could learn from, whilst growing my network.” -Chandani
  • “I have completed a traditional internship before in a law firm, where I shadowed solicitors and paralegals. Drafted legal documents such as applications for immigration cases and calculated legal fees for clients based on their individual requirements. The key difference is with traditional internships you are required to work from 9-5. Whereas with a virtual internship you do not have to limit yourself to a specific time. You can learn and complete the tasks at your own pace and from the comfort of your home. Also, you can network with thousands of like-minded individuals from across the world, whom you can connect and discuss your ideas with.” – Lubna
  • “No doubt there are some similarities between in-person and virtual internships but they still differ. Virtual internships involve understanding and harnessing new communication tools. Unlike in-person internships that allow you to talk to colleagues face-to-face, such as their desk or in meetings, online internships offer a wider range of multichannel, including email, Skype, WhatsApp, phone, project management tools. Also, there is a lot of flexibility in virtual internships because you can sit anywhere in the world and work for a company or organization. With normal internships, you are bound to sit in an office or be on the field to deliver the work. If you are someone that struggles to stay motivated on your own, you might struggle with a virtual internship, where self-discipline and self-motivation are essential.

Finally, working virtually can be challenging if and when you need assistance with a project. Working in an office means that you are surrounded by professionals who can provide guidance and support at a moment’s notice.” – Temilade

What is the main lesson you have learnt from a virtual internship so far?

  • “In many instances, such as tech, you do not need a degree in Software Engineering or the like to be recruited by companies such as Google and Bloomberg. As long as you take the initiative and learn the skills you need, like how to code, as well as demonstrate enthusiasm for the job, you can work in that sector. The platform that was used to connect interns with employers was new to most of us, and I learned how to adapt quickly. The work sample I completed remotely required many skills, such as research, problem-solving, project planning and strategic planning – which are incredibly valuable. So though virtual internships may be offered to more people than in-person internships, they are completely valid and should be viewed by employers as such.” – Builqis
  • “One of the main lessons I have learned is to speak up. Whether you are unsure about what you should be doing or are having difficulties with a task. If you need help, just ask! It is much more efficient than worrying about what others will
    think of you. Furthermore, if you work hard the experience does not feel as different compared to a traditional internship. It might seem so, but you can definitely get a lot of valuable information and experience, even from
    working at home.” – Chandani
  • “The main lesson I have learnt is to not be hard on yourself! Remember that you are very early on in your career, and you will make mistakes but that is okay. The internships are designed to be a learning experience. If you are set a task and do not get it right, learn from this and ask yourself how I can do better for next time. Reaching out to others to discuss your work is extremely beneficial to understand what you have done well and in which areas you can improve.” – Lubna
  • “Before the internship begins, speak with your supervisor about what you hope to gain from this experience and what their expectations are for you as the intern. Setting goals makes the virtual internship worthwhile. I will advise to always keep track of important dates and assignments and be sure to submit work in a timely fashion. Complete assignments on time and let your supervisor know if you have time to take on more projects. Limit distractions and treat your working time seriously. Set aside a dedicated time to get work done and do what you can to limit distractions.” – Temilade

Top tips for anyone planning on completing/starting a virtual internship?

  • “Be honest in your application, show your enthusiasm for the role – it may not be what you originally planned to do, but now’s the time to branch out and look at all the different fields you’ve never given a second thought when thinking about careers. You may just love it! Not only are future interns in these challenging situations, but employers are too and they need to recruit people. They understand the difficulties right now, so don’t be scared to apply – you have nothing to lose and all these skills to gain. But just as importantly, enjoy yourself during these internships. You’ll have time to spare to just complete hobbies that you’ve not had time to do pre-quarantine, so pick up the book you never had time to read or pick up the paintbrush you haven’t used in years. Good luck!” – Builqis
  • “I would definitely recommend doing some research on the companies attending the internship, which will help you understand the company better, and it can help you ask better questions during Q&A sessions. Moreover, use every opportunity given to you, either for networking or for completing an assignment. Lastly, give it your best and cut yourself some slack as well.” – Chandani
  • “Network, Network and Network! Do not underestimate the power of connecting with people. I believe to get the best experience out of the internship it is important to interact with others. Your peers are also new to the internship, so they know exactly what you are going through and how you are feeling. You may feel isolated if you are just sat behind your computer screen. Do reach out to people if you need help or just want a chat about the internship!

“Make sure you complete the tasks and fully absorb the information the speakers, hosts and Alumni are providing. If you do not put the effort in, then you will not gain anything from the experience. Always ask questions too, you may feel nervous to ask because it may seem silly, but the speakers and alumni were once also in your position too. They are happy to answer any questions you may have about their work, CV advice or even getting into the industry!” – Lubna

  • “Always ask for feedback so that you can continue to grow as a professional. This might mean hopping on a quick call to review changes they’ve made to a project draft you delivered or using suggestions and comments in a Google Sheet. The lessons you take away from your internship will follow you into your first full-time job in your desired field, so capture every bit of advice you can!” – Temilade

 

 

 

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