Virtual work experience - why it can help your child stand out
What is virtual work experience?
Virtual work experience (sometimes called online, remote or digital work experience) gives young people a chance to gain experience in the workplace, develop their skills, boost their employability and explore new industries and job roles.
It’s a broad term covering anything which provides young people with an insight into what it’s like to work in an industry or job role while at home. Most virtual work experiences range from half a day to one week, but some may last longer depending on the nature of the work experience and the age of your child.
Not all virtual work experience is the same. Some are open to everyone and provide a platform for students to discover more about the job, view pre-recorded videos on what it’s like to work with the organisation, go on virtual tours and possibly take part in some live Q&A sessions. Others may require your child to go through an application process and offer regular online meetings with a supervisor, individual project work, networking sessions, training opportunities and video tutorials.
Keep up-to-date on all things teen related with The Parents' Guide to free fortnightly newsletter
What are the benefits of a virtual work placement?
Virtual work placements are open to everyone and location does not need to be a limiting factor. This opens many possibilities for your child to explore new jobs and industries in areas that may not have been possible under face to face arrangements.
The majority of virtual work experience placements are free, although some employers charge for the opportunity; working from home will also mean your child will not incur any travel 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.
It’s not always easy working from home and taking part in virtual work experience placements will help your child 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 your child make decisions about whether or not that role is right for them in the future.
Which organisations offer virtual work experience?
Placements are available across many industry sectors including accountancy, engineering, fashion, law, marketing, medicine, technology and the veterinary sciences. If your teen knows the names of companies they’d love to work for, they can check the company websites to see whether virtual placements are on offer.
The list below is a snapshot of some of the companies and businesses currently offering virtual work experience. Be sure to check appropriate safeguarding measures are in place for any interactive virtual work experience. If you’re not sure, ask a member of the school to help you check.
Click on the text to be taken directly to their website.
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 or do all 6 days across six months for £50.
An excellent website to help young people develop the skills they need for a better future.
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.
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.
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.
A variety of packs to help develop different skills across various industries.
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.
An online work experience programme for those interested in architecture and design.
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.
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.
A range of programmes that provide an invaluable insight into the varied career options that can be explored from studying STEM-related subjects.
National Cyber Security Centre (CyberFirst)
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. Alternatively, try their one or two week courses.
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 aims to provide a level playing field by connecting young people to high quality virtual work placements, and they have access to 700 top employers. Register to stay up to date with their latest developments.
An excellent list of free virtual work experience placement ranging from fashion, finance, healthcare, marketing, sustainability, software to teaching.
A series of resources to help schools and colleges provide their students with virtual experiences of the workplace. The first two virtual work experience packages are now available and feature two key sectors, Digital and Technology and Construction.
A list of law firms offering virtual work experience.
A selection of online programmes created with input from company professionals with related worksheets which are assessed and graded.
An online platform providing a range of virtual work experiences including workshops, fellowships and internships. External companies are free to post opportunities, so we strongly recommend you encourage your child to research all options thoroughly before applying.
GET READY FOR 2022 / 2023 WITH OUR ONLINE GUIDES
Our online interactive guides provide all the information you need to understand the choices available after GCSE and sixth form
Things to consider
Online placements are not for everyone
Not everyone is suited to working behind a screen or remotely; some may have their heart set on a more creative or hands on career option. Now that lockdown has lifted, there are many more opportunities for face-to-face experience. For more details, check out The Parents' Guide to standing out from the crowd.
Virtual work experience is fairly new and opportunities are limited
Virtual work placements and internships are a new offering and places are likely to be limited and only available in certain industries, however, the list of companies offering them is growing.
May not give a full reflection of the particular job
There are limitations to what can be experienced through virtual placements, so make sure your child is aware that this may only provide a partial glimpse of what’s involved in the job.
Be sure to check the company’s credentials and what information your child is giving to them. Most companies will have age guidelines for suitability, but if not, do make sure it’s age appropriate.
Whatever your child chooses to do after school, employers and universities will be looking for people who were proactive, resilient and committed to making the most out of the challenges presented to them during this time. While virtual work experience can demonstrate many of these skills, there are also plenty of other ways to help your child show an employer or university that they are adaptable, resilient and willing to seek out the positives in any given circumstances. For more ideas, check out The Parents' Guide to standing out from the crowd.
Support and resources for parents of teens
We always love to hear from you, so do let us know if there are any subjects you’d like us to chat to you about. Stay safe and keep happy, Vanessa and Darius - email@example.com