When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, virtual internships became the new norm. Luckily, we had technologies like Zoom in place, so the shift was easier than it would have been otherwise. With that said – many companies are still adjusting. As we approach the normalization of virtual internships, it’s a great time to prepare and think about your “virtual presence.” Nothing will truly replace the energy of face-to-face interactions. But the good news is that a lot of work (consulting included) translates well to a virtual setting. Below, we’ll talk through the perks and best preparation strategies for virtual internships.
Are Virtual Internships Worth It?
The short answer? Yes! In 2020, Ivy Research Council found that 89% of students wanted a virtual internship over nothing at all. Think about the things students usually want from any internship. Number one, a feeling of ownership of and integration with the team’s deliverables. Number two, a support system of mentorship and continuous learning. And lastly, an engaging onboarding experience. A virtual internship program can check all of these boxes.
From a team integration perspective, Zoom features like breakout rooms actually help interns connect with more people than they would in-person. Normally, senior consultants or executives who travel might not be involved with the development of deliverables. In a virtual internship, they’ll often jump right into Zoom working sessions alongside interns. On the mentorship side of things, coffee chats and training sessions work just fine virtually. And for onboarding, many consulting firms are using virtual tools to create customizable, interactive onboarding experiences (including engaging with Management Consulted to develop and run onboarding training!)
Are virtual internships worth it? It’s really for you to decide. But the bottom-line: you can expect to extract a lot of the same value as in-person internships.
Benefits Of Virtual Internships
So, we’ve looked at how virtual internships can go toe-to-toe with in-person experiences. But what about the added benefits of virtual internships? There are plenty. For starters, you get a ton of independence. Not only with your schedule and work/life balance, but you can design your office space just how you want it! Secondly, you build new resume skills in a virtual summer internship. Digital fluency is only getting more necessary in the world of consulting and beyond. A virtual internship will help you flex those digital muscles to the max as you maneuver between workstreams. Another benefit is the reduced cost and environmental footprint of a virtual internship. Cut down on all those hidden expenses like commuting, coffee shops, and expensive lunches.
Is it Possible To Get Paid Virtual Internships?
Absolutely. As we’ve discussed, the virtual environment is not changing the amount of work that needs to get done. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a small slowdown in demand for consulting services. But that demand has returned (and grew) quickly. All to say – in most competitive internships, you can expect to be paid for your virtual work. There will be some exceptions of course, perhaps in sectors that have seen lasting impact to their business. But consulting-wise, all the major players are paying. Check out our latest salary report (inclusive of paid virtual internships) for more.
Which Consulting Firms Do Virtual Internships?
Thus far, we’ve talked about virtual internships in the traditional context. That is, going through a selective recruiting and interview process just like you would for an in-person internship. But some firms are building out virtual internship programs with open registration! In other words, any student with the time can put themselves through the program. Here are just a few examples to check out:
KPMG Virtual Internship
Offered through Forage, the KPMG Analytics Virtual Internship lets students develop the skills needed to thrive as an analytics consultant. As company data sets get bigger and more complex, analytics skills will be in high demand.
Deloitte Virtual Internship
The Deloitte virtual internship focuses on students interested in Deloitte’s Technology, Strategy & Transformation Team. You can expect to tackle the kind of business problems that Deloitte’s practitioners face on a daily basis. The internship breaks down into different modules that test different part of the Deloitte Consultant’s toolkit.
BCG Open-Access Strategy Consulting Internship
BCG’s virtual internship lets you earn a digital badge/certificate that you can share with other future employers – even outside of BCG. The program itself encompasses a variety of skills ranging from market research to data analysis and modeling.
Accenture Discovery Program
The Accenture Discovery Program is a mini-virtual internship of sorts. The program is self-paced and should only take you 5-6 hours to complete. Accenture’s virtual program incorporates not only core executional skills – but also framing skills. You’ll begin by helping set a client’s priorities and assembling a plan before diving in.
How To Get A Virtual Internship
The programs highlighted above are obviously free and open access. When thinking about how to get a virtual internship that’s more selective, the strategy is similar to in-person gigs. If you’re on-campus as an undergrad or post-grad, start by leaning on your career center resources. Pre-covid, consulting firms spent a TON of time on campuses. While they aren’t there physically at the moment, firms still host plenty of virtual events through career centers. Use those events to network and put your best foot forward. From there, you’ll go through similar recruiting logistics. For consulting internships, once you secure that coveted interview spot, check out our tips on virtual case interviews!
How To Prepare For A Virtual Internship
How to prepare for something that you’ve never done in a pre-pandemic world? It’s a great question. Like with everything, there’s a learning curve with virtual internships. But there are several things you can do to position yourself for success. Before the internship even begins, reach out to your supervisor, and try to learn about expectations. This is always critical, but even more so in a virtual setting. On the job, over-emphasize communication and take extra steps to learn the “office” culture. Non-verbal cues and notes on culture are harder to pick up over Zoom. Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself! Go into the virtual internship with confidence, but acknowledge there will be mistakes and clunky-ness – that’s to be expected.
Virtual summer internships are – stubbornly – here to stay. Well, at least for the next 6-12 months as we get a better picture of the post-pandemic working world. Flexibility is the name of the game. As you approach your internship or recruiting process, think critically about where you need to upskill. As you go through it, know that you’ll still be able to get a ton of value from the experience. At the end of the day, internships are all about relationship-building. And being virtual doesn’t take that away.
- Source Your Own Internship
- Consulting Internship: How to Land an Offer
- Case Interview: Complete Prep Guide