Virtual work experience opportunities and internships sprung up worldwide during the pandemic – and it was great!
Even though many young people were hoping to get into a ‘real life’ workplace, a virtual experience offered some of the same benefits and provided a glimpse into how teams worldwide were using remote working.
Many teams might have returned to the office, but it seems virtual opportunities like this might be here to stay!
But are they worth doing? We break down the pros and cons.
Work experience and internships are geared towards supporting young people to learn more about a specific workplace and industry and find alignment between their studies, career goals and the world of work.
Virtual placements offer students this, and can also support other vital areas of job readiness and career exploration.
Some key pros include:
1. A more relaxed format to meet people.
It’s no secret that meeting someone via a video chat can be much less stressful than meeting in person. For anyone entering the workplace for the first time, it can be a comfort to be in your own familiar space while getting familiar with new work colleagues.
2. Greater flexibility to juggle other commitments.
Minus any extra commuting or longer hours, a remote placement gives you plenty of flexibility with your time. It also helps to teach you essential workplace skills such as organisation, autonomy and time management.
3. Getting familiar with remote working.
It looks like remote working is here to stay, so a remote placement is a perfect opportunity to get used to this work format. It’ll be useful for future interviews if an employer asks about your experience and confidence working this way.
4. Developing vital workplace skills.
As touched on, completing a placement this way can help you develop valuable workplace skills. This includes communication, teamwork, creative thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, resilience, and self-management.
5. Greater accessibility.
For rural and regional students, a virtual placement offers you the chance to get access to top-tier employers and organisations to learn from! In-person placements can be tricky to undertake with the added travel and accommodation costs. Remote placements give you the best of both worlds!
Some things that add to the pros list with virtual placements also add to the cons list. In a world where we lead such digital lives, spending time with others in person is still important – and the workplace is no different.
A few cons that might come up with virtual placements include:
1.Less opportunity for face-to-face interactions.
Meeting and working with people through a screen isn’t the same as working with them in real life. It can be harder to stand out, and if you’re new in the workplace, ha+rder to put your hand up and ask for help.
Being in the workplace in person allows people to see you ‘in action’ and makes you a more visible employee.
2. Less chance to participate in workplace culture and social activities.
There’s a lot of great stuff about being in the workplace aside from doing the actual work! Getting coffee with colleagues, sharing lunch, and being a part of casual conversations and in-jokes – all add to a fun, positive workplace culture.
When you work virtually, it’s much harder to create this or be a part of it with colleagues based in an office.
3. Screen fatigue!
Is anyone else just sick of sitting in front of a screen for hours on end?!
It’s nice to have the chance to get stuck in, especially for certain industries where you might be overreading about what the work involves and keen to be a bit more hands-on.
Is a Virtual Placement Right For You?
There are many things to consider when deciding whether a virtual placement is right for you:
- The type of work you want to gain experience in.
- The in-person opportunities in your area.
- What level of study you’re at.
- How well you can keep yourself motivated in an online environment.
Virtual placements definitely won’t be for everyone, but if you’re keen to start boosting your CV and learning more about how modern workplaces are utilising remote work to support their teams, they could be a really valuable opportunity!
You can discover more placements (of all kinds!) via our employer partners. Why not check them out and see what’s on offer?