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Virtual Internships Turning A Challenge Into A Learning Experience

Companies needed a new way to keep their internship programs running. Thus, it became important to walk the road less travelled, i.e., virtual internships.

Internship is an important inflection point in the academic journey of first-year college students. It provides them with the first-hand experience of rubbing shoulders with professionals in a real business environment. At the same time, they also understand the work culture and long-term career opportunities at the company. For businesses, internships help in building the future talent pool. Thus, it is a win-win situation for both. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 has changed a few rules of the game. Lockdown, no travel, limited workforce where you can open offices, no short- term accommodation and need for social distancing changed the rules of the game. Companies needed a new way to keep their internship programs running. Thus, it became important to walk the road less travelled, i.e., virtual internships.    

While no one was ever prepared for such a scenario and many would have never done the internship in a virtual mode before, so it comes with its own challenges. While employees know and understand their roles and the organization better, for interns- it is a dynamic job of learning and performing in a short duration. Many of them had no prior experience of working in the corporate hence the learning had to start from scratch. Small things like who is the right person to reach out to for the information they need- something, they can pick up informally over lunch- in a virtual setup, these small things compounded the problem. 

Insurance is a highly regulated industry with a heavy focus on data security and many of the projects are based on data analytics. In the absence of them not coming to the office and thereby not having company laptops etc ensuring to provide the right kind of experience and yet, not compromising on companies’ data security is another logistical challenge. Enabling the projects and guides to work virtually with interns and give them the same kind of attention and guidance as in an office-based internship, especially when most of them are themselves contributing 120-130 per cent to keep business running is another a challenge.  

As the pandemic and the resultant lockdown changed the way companies work, interns are acquiring new skills and learning to think on their feet to ensure they get quality work experience. Showing initiative during a crisis could help interns land employment in an uncertain looking job market. For B school campus it may be a time to plan for a virtual placement season this year if the pandemic does not ease. That would be another first.   

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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