How to find a virtual internship
Virtual internships are internships that you can do remotely. You work with a company from home, using your laptop or a computer.
An internship is a period of work experience typically lasting anything from 2 weeks to 12 months. Most take place for around 3 months during the summer holidays.
Many are paid opportunities though some are unpaid or only cover the cost of your expenses like travel costs.
Companies in a range of sectors offer internship opportunities for school leavers, undergraduates and graduates.
There are also supported internships for young people with special needs or a disability.
A virtual internship is one where you work remotely. The benefit is that you don’t have to travel to work. It could make getting experience in a big city a possibility, if the cost of travel and living expenses are a barrier. If you can work around time differences you could even work anywhere in the world.
On a virtual internship you'll meet with staff, work together on projects and learn about the organisation online, using tools like email and video conferencing. You may take part in webinars and masterclasses as well as online company social events.
Reasons to do an internship
The aim of an internship is for you to:
- gain work related skills
- learn about the culture and values of an organisation
- test out your career ideas
- start building a professional network
Employers often use internships as a kind of screening process for recruiting to future graduate roles or school leaver schemes.
If you make a good impression it can improve your chances of getting a position in the future. Sometimes it can also fast-track you through the recruitment process.
When to start looking for vacancies
Sixth form and college students should begin looking for opportunities at the beginning of year 13.
On a degree course you should typically start looking during the summer of your first year for internships that will take place the following year, in the summer of your second year.
The application process is similar to applying for graduate roles and usually includes:
- an online application form
- online tests
- a screening interview - usually phone or video
- an assessment centre
Get help to find and apply for internship and virtual internship vacancies from:
- your school, college or university careers adviser
- your university internship officer – they may have relationships with employers who offer opportunities just for students of your university
- commercial organisations that can find internships for a fee - always make sure that these are genuine before you commit to paying for their services
- advice on graduate recruitment sites
Where to look for vacancies
There are lots of ways to find internship vacancies. You could:
- talk to your school, college careers or work experience co-ordinator
- visit your university careers service
- look online at sites like Milkround.com, Not Going to Uni, Prospects, and Target jobs
- go directly to company websites that you want to intern for
- follow companies on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
- network within your family, friends and older students with internship experience
- contact companies that interest you by sending off a CV and a cover letter
Virtual internships with overseas organisations
If you have an interest in gaining experience overseas there are specialist websites that offer advice and advertise vacancies, like:
University careers services can also give you more information about other trusted organisations.
Top tips to get the most out of your experience
Working remotely is hard. It can be difficult to separate your home and work life. Not being in a workplace can make you feel disconnected from your colleagues. To help against this, you should:
- set a routine with regular start and finish times
- introduce yourself to other workers through the company’s online messaging system
- look out for opportunities to take part in training, meetings or online social events
- have regular catch-ups with your supervisor and let them know if you have any difficulties
- reach out to other virtual interns if there are any or new recruits to the company to support each other
- never be afraid to ask questions