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News Virtual internships keep students connected with employers

Staffordshire University is offering virtual internships to help students gain vital work experience despite lockdown restrictions

The Careers Studio is offering a range of virtual support
Image: The Careers Studio is offering a range of virtual support

We don’t know how long we’re going to be remote working in the near future so having that skill and being able to learn, train and communicate on online platforms is definitely something employers are going to look for

Grace Thomson, MSc Digital Marketing

Not bound by office location or geographical proximity to the University campuses, virtual interns can deliver tasks and projects for businesses through digital means from the comfort of their own home

Martin Perfect, Head of Student & Graduate Employability, explained: “We know that work experience can provide huge benefits for students and graduates as they set out on their career paths. That’s why we introduced virtual internships which enable students to gain high-quality work experience with employers who continue to grow, innovate and operate even during the lockdown.

“Remote working also means that local, national and global employers can tap into high-calibre talent and skills at Staffordshire University from anywhere in the world.”

Many students who were on placements before the coronavirus outbreak have been able to switch to virtual internships while the University’s Unitemps service is offering a variety of new virtual roles in marketing, digital design, data or software engineering and more.

After being furloughed from her role with a Stoke-on-Trent ceramics manufacturer, MSc Digital Marketing Management student Charlotte Cunningham has found a virtual internship with local company Simply Hygiene.

The 27-year-old from Stafford said: “Virtual internships are an ideal opportunity to gain experience and keep busy during lockdown. I think working remotely shows employers that you are committed, self-motivated and organised which can only be good for your CV.”

Charlotte will also be using Microsoft Teams to help the University’s Business School run their regular webinars and she is helping national conference Women in Sport and Exercise to be delivered online in September.

Course mate Grace Thomson, 23 from Leyland in Lanchashire, is completing her placement with Staffordshire University’s Careers Studio which has included successfully launching a new blogsite.

“It’s definitely something I would recommend, and it definitely does give you the edge over someone else. We don’t know how long we’re going to be remote working in the near future so having that skill and being able to learn, train and communicate on online platforms is definitely something employers are going to look for and are skills that you will definitely need in the future.”

Eerik Beeton is on the same degree. The 27-year-old, who is originally from Finland, lives in Tunstall and is now working with an art gallery in Wales on their digital marketing.

He said: “The fact is that the job goes wherever you go and that’s important because it allows you to be proactive and reactive. When the customer does needs you it means you can grab your laptop and work on it straight away.

“With the new normal and COVID-19 it is something that every single one of us should get accustomed to because the future of workplaces is not going to be in an office 9 to 5.”

Virtual internships are one of several ways that Staffordshire University is supporting graduate employability. The Digital Careers Studio offers support online and via social media along with other new initiatives such as Video Interviewing Technology.

Annual graduate exhibition GradEX is also being hosted completely online for the first time to connect final year students with industry professionals. The online portal of student projects has been shared with more than 7,000 employer contacts and is available throughout the summer.

Students interested in virtual internships can find out more by contacting the Careers Studio on careers@staffs.ac.uk.

If your business can offer a virtual internship, then please contact Unitemps on unitemps@staffs.ac.uk.

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