While some employers canceled internships all together during the pandemic, others moved to a virtual internship model, which is showing great promise for employers well beyond the pandemic.
Virtual internships are conducted remotely online, often with interns working part-time from their home or campus to gain valuable work experience while studying. Even though virtual internships aren’t new, they are playing a much more important role in helping students transition from education to employment.
Employers are reaping the benefits of virtual internships as well, and it’s only the beginning of a trend that is here to stay. The following presents just a few reasons why employers are seeing value in virtual internships.
1. Access to a Global Talent Pool
Virtual internships allow employers to source talent from around the world with diverse backgrounds, skill sets and life experiences. Navigating the global talent marketplace is an expensive value proposition for most businesses, especially start-ups and SMEs. Yet, in a global economy, it’s critical to remain competitive and innovative. By embedding a structured project-based virtual internship program into their talent acquisition strategy, employers can access a much larger talent pool worldwide.
2. Hire Year-round
Virtual internships allow employers to hire interns year-round. Traditionally, employers could only hire interns during the summer when students have a long break and can physically leave their place of education. Now, many employers are realising that students enjoy combining coursework with the world of work to gain a degree and practical professional experience at the same time. This means that employers can hire interns when they need them to work on a project. Employers get help when they need it, and interns gain real-life experience on projects that matter any time of the year.
3. Broaden the Reach of your Employer Brand
Since virtual internships allow for a greater diversity of interns year-round, it also means that more young people are engaging with employers at a personal level. Employers can take this opportunity to bring their core values to life to a larger and more diverse talent pool where word-of-mouth travels fast.
4. Tap into Fresh and Diverse Perspectives
Students bring new ideas and fresh ways of looking at problems, products and people. Interns are a direct conduit to what the upcoming generation wants and values, and their perspectives and questions often help to rejuvenate approaches to old problems and issues. Since interns are digital natives as well, they also tend to have key insights on technology platforms, user experience and interface design and consumer trends. Virtual internships give employers an opportunity to get these fresh perspectives from a greater diversity of backgrounds, cultures and influences.
5. Avoid Physical Onboarding Costs
Accessing a global talent pool for in-person internships oftentimes means having to acquire visas, insurance and equipment for temporary staff spanning a relatively short time period, which can end up being costly over time. Virtual interns don’t require visas and are expected to come equipped with their own computers, WIFI access and rudimentary office supplies.