Landing that first dream job can be incredibly difficult. Education is key, but increasingly, so is work experience. This can be difficult to acquire and access for many can be limited by location. Internships during university, the usual path for students towards getting some experience on their CV, in particular, can be hard to find. Less than 40% of the students in higher education globally complete at least one internship during their degree.
Historically internships have been a couple of months, in person, during university holidays. But this has meant access to opportunity has often been tied to proximity. In addition, companies need to offer an appropriate experience for the intern, who may be looking to work in marketing, computer science, sales or any of the multitude of roles that modern companies need to thrive. This means that, even if you live in a big city, the number of opportunities is likely to be dwarfed by demand. Conversely, if you don’t live in an area with lots of businesses, and don’t have the means to travel or reside in another location for a period of time, the odds of finding or being to pursue a suitable internship are low.
While talent has always been distributed globally, employment opportunities have not. This has been changing over the last ten years and as work has increasingly gone remote the change has accelerated with companies able to hire people based anywhere. Workplace practices and skillsets have shifted in tandem. It’s not yet clear where white-collar work-from-home rates will settle – investment banks at one end, tech start-ups at the other, perhaps? – but we are in no doubt that the broad shift towards an increased proportion of remote work is here to stay. This benefits companies that are now able to offer work to great people wherever in the world they live, but finding those future employees is hard.
At the same time, the increase in competition for jobs among graduates means that universities are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their courses lead to increased employability and that their leavers are well suited to the modern workplace. Careers Services departments have historically poorly served student populations with tangible ways to improve their CV’s. This is where Virtual Internships come in. It offers highly structured virtual internships with over 10,000 companies around the world, offering an unmatched variety of experiences and work types in suitable roles to global students through its university customer base (who pay for the placements). By delivering these work experience programmes it helps young people prepare for their dream careers, while universities are able to show an improved proportion of students going on to great jobs. Excitingly, more and more degree courses are requiring practical experience, and structured internships are being incorporated into syllabuses. Removing the need to be geographically close to an office also increases the democratisation of internship experience, with the best candidates being matched to the most appropriate placements.
The potential for further development is enormous. As a solution for companies to find and hire permanent global talent, well-planned and structured virtual experiences is a very powerful tool, and it is no surprise that a high proportion of interns end up as full-time employees. In addition, the potential for corporate contracts, where employers look to develop their staff through practical experience, is an exciting branch of growth. Governments, too, are increasingly looking for ways to upskill and help people back into work, and a virtual internship helps the unemployed who live in areas where work is not readily available to gain valuable experience and helps to dramatically upskill those re-entering the workforce after any protracted absence.
We first met Daniel Nivern and Ed Holroyd Pearce back in early 2021, and immediately loved their ambitious vision of providing virtual internships to students, through universities, at scale around the world. When they were looking to raise further capital earlier this year, we were delighted to lead their Series A, with participation from existing investors including Sequoia Surge, and new investors Arsenal Growth, Kaplan, STIC Investments and Ascend Vietnam among others. It is fitting that a global business, with headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City and London, should have such a global investor base. We can’t wait to see how Dan and Ed build Virtual Internships and enable millions of students to progress toward their dream careers.