Work experience has long been recognised as an important element of skills development and school-to-work transitions for young people, but the Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented barriers to accessing face to face placements. In response to this employers have opened up greater opportunities to virtual (online, remote or digital) work experience which is just as valuable as face to face, offering the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace, develop your skills, boost your employability and explore new industries and job roles.
What are the benefits of doing work experience online or virtually:
Think global! – Virtual work placements are open to everyone and location does not need to be a limiting factor. This opens many possibilities for you to explore new jobs and industries in areas that may not have been possible under face to face arrangements.
It’s free – The majority of virtual work experience placements are free, although some employers charge for the opportunity; working from home will also mean your will not incur any travel related costs.
Future proof – 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.
Transferable skills – It’s not always easy working from home and taking part in virtual work experience placements will help you develop those soft skills that all employers are seeking, such as organisation, time-management and self-motivation.
Knowing what’s right (or what isn’t) – 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.
Which organisations offer virtual work experience and how do I find opportunities?
You all have access to Unifrog. Here you can search 130 virtual WEX opportunities in the Special opportunities tool. Here’s how to find them:
- On the Special opportunities tool, first select which country you’re from.
- The tool then asks which country you’re interested in searching opportunities from. To find all the virtual WEX opportunities, select ‘Online/ Worldwide’.
- You can then select up to 10 subject areas you’re interested in which takes you through to the longlist.
- From here, you can pick your top placements to create a shortlist of up to 10 opportunities. The shortlist gives information about what to expect from the placement and how to apply for it.
Additionally, while this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some companies and businesses currently offering virtual work experience.
Allied Healthcare Mentor (paid)– A live Virtual Work Experience Programme created and delivered by healthcare professionals for those interested in a career in healthcare. Prices start from £10 a day.
Barclays LifeSkills – An excellent website to help young people develop the skills they need for a better future.
Barclays LifeSkills – virtual work experience with a ‘digital transformation’ agency – An excellent opportunity for those interested in design to actively work with different departments on one exciting project, helping them solve problems and complete real-life tasks.
Brighton and Sussex Medical School – Suitable for those looking to apply to medical school, this virtual work placement introduces students to the NHS before exploring the roles and skill sets of six different medical specialists.
Cyber Discovery – A chance to learn from industry experts and take part in over 200 free cyber security challenges. Registration is currently closed, but there is an opportunity to register interest for the next intake.
Doc Talk (paid) – A five-day virtual work experience, which has been designed to simulate a clinical hospital placement. Here you will learn what it is like to be a doctor – covering all the key parts of the job.
Future Learn – exploring the Veterinary profession – A two week, six hour, course that enables students to learn more about what it takes to become a vet and whether it’s the right career choice for them.
Halliday Fraser Munro – An online work experience programme for those interested in architecture and design.
Hunter Bevan – A remote virtual work experience with a twist. Suitable for anyone interested in developing their design or marketing skills. Feedback will be given plus a chance to feature on Hunter Bevan’s website.
InsideSherpa – An excellent website which offers virtual work experience placements from a range of companies, from banking to careers in tech. Most options last up to six hours and involve tutorials, videos and activities.
InvestIn (paid) – Aimed at students between 14 and 18 years old, InvestIn offers an impressive array of virtual work placements involving real life work and contact with professionals. This is a paid service, and placements range from one day to one week. Prices start from £90. Salesian students can get a 10% discount with the code SALESIAN1o. Bursary places are also available if you meet the following criteria:
- You are currently in receipt of a bursary from the government’s “16 to 19 bursary fund” (or equivalent)
- You currently receive free school meals during secondary education or have done so in the past 6 years
- You have been in care or taken the role of a carer at home
National Cyber Security Centre – A website dedicated to helping the UK’s next generation of cyber professionals through a variety of free courses for 11-17 year olds and exciting competitions.
Operation Wallacea (paid) – A range of week-long internships with live online mentoring, a daily schedule, regular deadlines and constant contact with managing staff. Prices start from £100 for 5 days and run throughout August and September.
Premed Projects Live TV (paid) – Suitable for students aged 14-19 and interested in Biology, Science, healthcare and / or for those considering careers in medicine. Watch live videos within the operating theatre, download exam linked worksheets, watch interviews with healthcare professionals and receive tips and advice on applications to medicine. This is a paid service (monthly subscriptions start from £12.99).
Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) – Organised, by the RCGP, Observe GP is an alternative to work experience for aspiring medics aged 16 and over, who are living in the UK. It is a free interactive video platform providing insights into the role of a GP and the wider primary care team.
Speakers4Schools – Speakers4schools aims to provide a level playing field by connecting young people to high quality virtual work placements. Register to stay up to date with their latest developments.
Springpod – An excellent list of free virtual work experience placement ranging from teaching to marketing.
The Careers and Enterprise Company – A regularly updated and comprehensive list of virtual opportunities containing links to virtual work placements and training opportunities for students in year 9-13.
The Lawyer Portal – A list of law firms offering virtual work experience.
Youth Opportunities – An online platform providing a range of virtual work experiences including workshops, fellowships and internships. External companies are free to post opportunities, so I strongly recommend you research all options thoroughly before applying.