Work placement has many benefits for students including preparing you for the world of work, it can allow you to learn more about your chosen field or industry and it can give you many transferable skills that you can take forward in your career. But work placement does not have to always take place in person, this trend picked up speed when Covid-19 increased the digitised world, with more people than ever working from home and virtual work placements increasing in popularity.
What is a virtual work placement?
Also referred to as online, remote or e-experience, virtual work placement allows students to complete work experience from home. With access to a laptop or tablet, along with a stable internet connection, the majority of online work experiences share many similarities with traditional, in-person placements.
What are the benefits of a virtual work placement?
Virtual work experience is open to all and the location does not need to be a limiting factor This opens up the opportunity for the student to explore new jobs and industries in areas that may not have been previously possible.
The majority of virtual work experience placements are free, although some employers charge for the opportunity; working from home will also mean you will not incur any travel or accommodation related costs.
Remote working is likely to be important to many businesses in the future and learning how to conduct business and work online will develop extremely valuable skills for the modern workplace.
Improved Technical Skills
As part of your virtual work placement, you will need to utilise digital materials, get familiar with new tools and software, and troubleshoot common issues. With more businesses using virtual teams, this is an important skill to learn how to collaborate remotely.
Enhanced Soft Skills
The self-discipline required to work from home will boost several soft skills, such as organisation, time management and the ability to prioritise. It is not always easy working from home and taking part in virtual work experience placements will help develop those soft skills that all employers are seeking.
Better Insight of The Job
Understanding what a job or a career entails might help you make decisions about whether or not that role is right for you in the future. Virtual work placement allows you to see the working culture of a business along with an overview of what happens behind the scenes of the business.
How do I make the most of a virtual work placement?
To get the most out of your virtual work placement experience:
Learn about the organisation – understand company expectations, culture and communication style. Read through staff biographies online to learn about the leaders and colleagues you work with. Consider connecting with them if you have questions.
Prepare ahead of time – Gather all the materials or tools provided to you. Log on to any platforms ahead of time and complete any paperwork before you start.
Create a routine – stick to set hours, create a professional space to work from, ideally a desk or table and dress the part every day. Hold yourself accountable by staying on top of deadlines, calendar invites and meetings and try to limit distractions during your workday.
Keep in touch – frequently check in with your manager and teammates. Connect via email, social platforms or message chats with other placement students. You can explore how to help one another navigate the virtual internship program, learn from previous experiences and motivate each other on projects.
Speak up – Ask questions, seek advice and be open to guidance. Working remotely is an adjustment, particularly if you’ve never done so before. Ask for help when you need it.
Join in – take part in any networking or social events, as the contacts you make now may prove useful in the future.
Note down achievements – Make a note of the things you’ve done and the skills you’ve developed, as these will prove useful for future applications and interviews.
Ask for feedback – placements, no matter how they’re completed, are learning curves so it’s important to ask your employer and colleagues for feedback on your performance. It’ll help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and improve where necessary.
When it comes to virtual work placements ultimately get out what you put into it. Completing a placement is a really important step on your professional path. By seeking out the best practices, you will ensure that you get all that you can from the experience.