The Rise Of Virtual Internships Isn’t All That Bad
During summer in Singapore, it is usually a time bustling with hopeful interns wanting to get industrial exposure and to build a strong network. They would usually be spotted following behind their seniors like a little child, or scribbling down notes into their journals diligently.
However, with the COVID-19 Pandemic, such opportunities seem to be completely shattered and beyond reclamation. Many interns are left with cancelled internships, while others began searching for the next best alternative.
With work-from-home replacing traditional work settings, virtual internships are slowly gaining popularity. Big companies like Great Eastern are opening up over 200 traineeship positions, which will include virtual coaching and comprehensive e-learning programmes.
“But I won’t even know the intern that I’m working with, it will be a disaster!”
“Won’t this be an excuse for interns to slack?”
These concerns are understandable, but as you read on, you’ll realize that these virtual internships can do more good than harm. If done right, both the company and the interns will both flourish in this new era of virtual internships!
What are virtual internships?
Often referred to as ‘telecommuting’ or ‘work-from-home’, virtual internships are essentially internships that can be done without being physically present. Most interns will only need a laptop and a stable internet connection to do so.
On the surface, the fact that interns can work from the comfort of their homes could already be an area of concern for employers.
This unprecedented level of freedom and flexibility, will any work be done?
Moreover, there are other problems such as
- A communication barrier
- Interns losing out on understanding professional cultures
- Difficult to figure out whether interns are learning well, i.e. a waste of time
But does this mean that you should wait for the pandemic to end before recruiting interns? Because interns will need real exposure and real interactions, right?
Looking at our current situation, waiting out the pandemic might be a little too simplistic.
Despite a global effort to make a vaccine for COVID-19, there is still no guarantee that a vaccine can be developed. This means that telecommuting will continue to replace traditional work environments until a cure can be found.
Sure, it sounds quite pessimistic, but it shouldn’t stop you from thinking on the brighter side.
- Recruit interns from abroad: You no longer have to limit yourself to interns only in your area! Since virtual internships revolve around working from anywhere, this means that you can seek talent from thousands of miles away. China, Japan, Korea, you name it! This also means that you will have more talent applying to your internship openings.
- Cut costs for your company: In a virtual internship, interns will no longer have to use your company’s on-site facilities. This can help you to grow your reserves and allocate it to better areas, like a new project!
- More creative juices flowing: As interns are no longer able to run errands, it is a good opportunity for you to give them a project to help out in. The more ideas, the merrier!
Major Tech company Twitter had even recently announced a Work From Home Forever option, scraping away the idea of a traditional workplace completely. Some have even commented that it worked well and that they probably ‘won’t go back’.
Moving Forward: Developing a Virtual Internship
Virtual internships, if handled well, can help both the firm and the intern to excel. Here are some steps you can take in developing your own virtual internship!
- Create that coffee-break culture virtually: Some of the most common video chatting platforms are Zoom and Skype. Set aside some time to have a chat as a team and get to know each other! Having sessions like these will also help to break the communication barrier during work
- Provide your interns with a goal-setting template: Helping your interns to set goals will keep them motivated and efficient in their work. Knowing what they want to achieve will also help you to stretch them further for overall success.
- Prepare your employees to do virtual mentorship: Telecommuting means that employees won’t be able to watch their interns like a hawk. Some students may require more assistance, and therefore it is important that their seniors can still reach out to them online.
Adapt, Not Avoid.
We are now provided a real opportunity to try out new methods of working, ones that were considered flawed or unsuitable in the past. In a time of economic uncertainty, it is important that we do not waste it and help companies and interns work together to continue to stay relevant.
Not only will interns be given an opportunity to learn, but it will also put your company in a positive light for being able to adapt quickly to changes in an evolving digitalised world.
Ultimately, the success of a virtual internship will depend largely on the willingness of businesses to offer comprehensive online learning tools and their dedication in supporting their interns.
At MatcHub, we strongly advocate for virtual internships and believe that there are many benefits that both companies and interns can reap. We also take pride in having recently matched a student to a virtual internship at a Berlin-based company.
Are you ready for change? Register with MatcHub to find the best interns for your company now!