An internship with a difference! 

With new Coronavirus restrictions coming in nationwide, Angus, the most recent intern at Nathan Rous PR, was subject to the newest national work experience trend – a virtual internship. In this week’s blog, Angus talks us through his week, how a virtual internship differs from an in-person one and he even shares some top tips to secure your own!

Alongside my Anthropology and Archaeology degree at the University of Durham, I wanted to gain as much experience in the real world of work as possible. I’m going into my third year in a few weeks so summer 2020 was vital for me to complete as much work experience as possible and see what potential careers are out there for me to pursue.

I am interested primarily in people, and more specifically the relationships between people and their surroundings, which is why the world of PR is so interesting to me.

I live in Shropshire where Nathan Rous PR has its main office and I’ve heard the name a lot over the years. They have done fantastic work with businesses here in the UK as well as overseas, and some relatives and family friends of mine also use the firm for their own PR campaigns.

I emailed the managing director, Nathan, directly earlier this year and he offered me a two-week work experience placement in July but unfortunately that fell through due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown. But Nathan was true to his word and we managed to organise another date later on for when the office was back open.

But then just as my week was about to start, Boris encouraged all office workers to once again work from home if they can…and so it began, my virtual work experience.

Virtual interning has definitely been different to the office-based interning I have done in the past. As an extrovert, I find it paramount to get to know at least some members of the team on a personal level in order to really connect with a group. However, with Google Hangouts and email as the main medium of exchange this week, it has been very different and required me to really put my hat into the ring in order to get heard and get the most out of this week’s work.

And I definitely got a lot out of it! I’ve written blogs, drafted press releases, researched news for clients and even attended a Board Meeting for a local community farm where I was given space to float some of my ideas to the virtual room, some of which were liked and taken on board.

It’s a really difficult time for students at the moment but work experience and internships are so important when it comes to standing out in job applications and interviews. Here are my top tips for securing a virtual internship this year:

  1. Just ask – my mother has always said “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” which I have definitely found to be the case. When I found out that my initial plan to work for NPR had been cancelled I was debating whether to pester them more later on in the summer, turns out that doing so was one of the best things I have done with my lockdown.
  2. Get nosey – if you are ever confused about anything, ask, ask and ask again until you know. Getting work experience/internship experience without understanding how the ins and outs of the company works, is nothing more than just a name on your CV.
  3. Don’t hold back on sharing – getting your own ideas/opinions heard makes you individual and stand out. As well as getting noticed for either the right or the wrong reasons, sharing your own ideas proves to the company that has given you their time that you are not only trying to actively contribute, but also that you are understanding what is going on.
  4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – as good as it is to look keen, make sure you don’t make promises that you cannot keep. Keep the people who are giving you work up to date with what you are doing in order for them to know how much you can handle.
  5. Be open to being corrected – part of the reason for interning is that you want to get to know how a company/sector works better. I spent a good proportion of one days work doing something that was totally not what I was asked to do. When I was called up and told that what I had done was not correct I found that apologising and moving on straight away was the best way through it.

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