What is virtual work experience?
Virtual work experience, also referred to as online, remote or digital, provides young people with the opportunity to gain experience in the workplace, develop their skills, boost their employability and explore new industries and job roles.
It’s a broad term and can include any opportunity 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.
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?
As social distancing seems set to remain for the foreseeable future, more and more firms are beginning to provide virtual work experience opportunities to students and young people. Placements are available across several sectors including accountancy, law, marketing and the veterinary sciences. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some companies and businesses currently offering virtual work experience.
Click on the text to be taken directly to their website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Recently launched, 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.
An excellent list of free virtual work experience placement ranging from teaching to marketing.
A regularly updated and comprehensive list of virtual opportunities containing links to virtual work placements and training opportunities for students in year 9-13.
A list of law firms offering virtual work experience.
An immersive experience of Architecture through a series of role-plays, seminars, simulations and Q&A sessions led by a group of experienced architects over 2 days - for students 15-18 years old.
Experience the real-life work of a Computer Scientist, with opportunities to build and programme an app, investigate cybercrime through data forensics, become a ‘White Hat Hacker’ and explore the capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning - for students 15-18 years old.
Experience the real-life work of a doctor, with opportunities to observe patient consultations and work in a ward. Time will also be dedicated to medical school application coaching, with doctors training participants on personal statements, applications and interviews.
A 5 day placement where participants are given the opportunity to work with top Investment Bankers
A 5 day internship that enables participants to work with key figures from the world of Politics, including representatives of the UN, the House of Commons, the Foreign Office and NGOs.
The Young Psychologist Programme gives students aged 15-18 an immersive experience of Psychology through a series of role-plays, seminars, simulations and Q&A sessions led by a group of experienced psychologists over 2 days.
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.
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. If virtual work experience is not right for your child, there’s lots of other things they can do while at home – check out our blog on helping your child stand out for more ideas.
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.
The question ‘what did you do during lockdown / the Coronavirus crisis’ is likely to become an interview staple. 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, click here.