How internships have gone virtual and why the trend may be here to stay

XR Stories is here to help businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber unlock the potential of virtual and in-person internships through our dedicated scheme launching soon. From 1 July 2020, this new scheme will allow your business to access support to find an intern as well as providing up to 100% of the funding. We’ll help you scope out your project, advertise the opportunity across our networks, and present you with a range of candidates. Read on to find out more about how virtual internships can help your business.

The last three or four months have been extraordinary in the world of work. Some businesses have ground to a halt, whilst others are struggling to cope with an increased demand. It’s become normal practice to connect with colleagues over video chat platforms and some businesses are examining their need for meeting in person in the future. 

Businesses have transitioned from an immediate response to the pandemic lockdown in March to repositioning for a post coronavirus world. What does this mean for internships and how might staffing policies and practices across the screen industries in particular be affected?

In the world of placements and internships, many large organisations have postponed placement start dates until later in the year and cancelled spring internships altogether. Some smaller companies have made the decision that they just cannot commit to offering work experience opportunities to students and graduates at all. 

Are there opportunities being missed here though? Are businesses overlooking the option of transitioning an internship to a virtual one? Is there a perception that there are bigger priorities in the business and it’s just too much effort to move their scheme and opportunities online? A lot of employees are already working remotely as their “new normal” so why can’t this apply to interns too?

On a practical level an intern might not get the whole “experience” by working remotely. Nothing beats learning on the job from colleagues, overhearing bits of conversation in the office or learning from a team mate when they use a new piece of kit or software. Interns can still be a valuable asset to a business though as well as developing key skills for their own professional future.

Can businesses in the screen industries adapt to working in virtual environments? In some areas like costume, make-up or filming this is definitely more tricky and might even be impossible. In areas like post production or editing, however, or across other sectors of the industry like game development and animation, they absolutely can!

Internships can be hugely beneficial and valuable partnerships, both for the business and for the intern. Interns can bring in new perspectives, skills and up-to-date knowledge as well as being a vital part of the team when additional resource is needed.

Only time will tell if the changes brought by the coronavirus to our ways of working will be temporary, or if they are here to stay. The rise of virtual internships was already underway before the pandemic hit, with businesses thinking about environmental factors, cost agendas and the increased use of digital technologies to enable remote working. These trends are unlikely to disappear so it’s conceivable that more businesses, large and small, will offer more virtual ways of working in the future. 

Virtual internships can also play a vital role in removing some of the barriers faced by students and graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, not having to pay travel costs and being able to work around other commitments is a huge advantage for people in these groups.

Like an on site internship, the key to a successful virtual internship is to set clear expectations for the project from the start. What are the outcomes the internship will achieve? How will these be measured and achieved? For virtual internships, employers must also think about elements of collaborative working and how this would work in a virtual team. 

Internships offer valuable partnership opportunities between the business and the intern. The intern gets a great insight into industry and starts to prepare for the world of work. On the other hand, the business gets a look into the minds of young people who may have the talents, ideas and skills you didn’t know you needed! 

If you’d like to find out more about our internship scheme or to be added to our mailing list for the future please email [email protected]

Full details of the scheme, including funding and how to apply, will be on the internships webpage from 1 July 2020.

Published on 16 June 2020

Filed under: Funding news, XR Stories