Careers Service

Top tips when considering virtual work experience

Top Tips for Virtual Experience

What is a virtual work experience?

A virtual work experience is an experience that takes place entirely online using a computer or tablet device. It is not an experience where you are employed and work remotely or from home when you would normally be working on an organisation’s premises.

Work experience is a flexible term which refers to some form of temporary work placement with the purpose of gaining experience and insight into an area of work. This can include paid employment, internships, placements, volunteering, insights to work and entrepreneurial activity.

Terminology

There is a lot of variety in terms of the type of virtual experience and support offered and the commitment required from you (both in terms of time and financially). There is also a wide variety of support offered to you by these providers. Additionally, sometimes the terminology used by providers for the type of experience being offered would not match terminology we use or you may use.

Terminology used by providers includes:

  • Internship experience
  • Online internship
  • Virtual work or internship experience/placement
  • Remote internships/work experience

We would suggest the following definitions for some of the most common types of virtual experience that are available:

Virtual Internship:

  • At least a few weeks in duration

  • Paid

  • Usually has a lengthy application process

  • Training and development is provided throughout the internship

  • Feedback and support is provided by your employer or provider

  • Internship is focused on a specific project which will support the employer

  • Eg: Pagoda Projects offer virtual internships such as ‘Marketing intern’ or ‘User Experience Researcher’

       Pagoda Projects

Virtual Work experience:

  • Usually last for a short period of time

  • Can be unpaid

  • Designed to provide experience of the workplace

  • Can involve working on a number of tasks

  • Feedback and support is provided by employer or provider

  • Eg: Workfinder with work projects for 2 weeks, support and guidance offered from host organisations

       Workfinder

Virtual Career Insights:

  • No face-to-face interaction with employers, often contact is through pre-recorded video
  • Very short term, usually a few hours
  • Little to no feedback is given from employer or provider
  • E.g. Forage (formerly Inside Sherpa) with pre-recorded videos from employers with no interaction, or Future Conference where you can get career insights from organisations online and attend skills workshops). We would not advertise these types of opportunities as work experience.

        Forage

        Future Conference

Please note these are only our suggestions, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you are happy that the type of experience being offered is at the level you would expect. We have also simply included examples of different providers and do not necessarily endorse these, again it is up to you to decide if you would like to undertake these opportunities; we have provided you some guidance to help with this below.

Questions to ask before signing up to/applying for a virtual work experience

Most of the virtual work experience opportunities you come across will be excellent, but don’t assume that they all are. Before you commit yourself, sign anything or hand over money, do your own research.

If the answers to your questions are vague or unsatisfactory you may want to reconsider your choice. Ultimately, however, it is for you to decide – based on your research – whether the opportunity will meet your requirements.

 Three Golden Rules

  • Make sure you understand, and are comfortable with, all the costs associated with the opportunity. Before handing over any money, get everything in writing.

  • Make sure you are happy that the experience you will gain is worth the time and any financial commitment you will have to make.

  • Look for feedback. If still in doubt, ask the Careers Service if they have come across the organisation before.

Advice on working remotely

For some guidance on how to make the most of a virtual work experience, read these top tips for working from home from one of our students, as well as our blog on making the most of virtual internships.

Top tips for working from home (Inform.ed Blog)

Making the most of virtual internships (Inform.ed Blog)