Third year BA History of Art student Adya Jalan completed a virtual internship in summer 2020 funded by Goldsmiths. The opportunity was a marketing internship at Penda Photo Tours and Penda Trust, a photography and non-profit organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa.
In her final blog post, Adya writes about how to make the most out of your virtual global opportunity.
This summer, I participated in a Global Virtual Opportunity funded by the Go Abroad Team at Goldsmiths. I did a marketing internship at Penda, a social enterprise based in South Africa, Cape Town. Through my 9-week virtual experience, I encountered several challenges but also learnt ways to make this experience a constructive one. A Global Virtual Opportunity is something that I would highly recommend. It has allowed me to develop my professional and personal skills. This opportunity provided me a platform to network with people from all around the world. Working online can be quite a challenge, especially in the middle of a lockdown. In this blog, I am highlighting ways I obtained my ideal virtual opportunity, the advantages of doing one and how I made my virtual opportunity more productive by overcoming challenges.
Benefits of a Virtual Global Opportunity
- Expanding your network. A global opportunity really allows you to work with people from different parts of the world. An opportunity like this gave me the ability to connect with and work with a unique team. This increased my communication, networking and team working skills. I learnt about various places and cultures by communicating with colleagues from every corner of the world. This was a very fulfilling experience.
- Gain experience. A virtual placement gave me the freedom to choose the field I wanted to work in. There are several options to choose from and whether you are studying or working abroad you can pick any field you want to gain experience in. A 9-week internship allowed me to gain a lot of knowledge about marketing and also explore the potential career fields within this stream. You might also learn a new language while increasing intercultural communication.
- A virtual opportunity allows you to work from anywhere. With internet and personal time management you can participate in an opportunity abroad from the comfort of your own home. Most virtual internships have flexible end dates and start dates and that gave me the chance to choose what dates suit me the most. Also, because I was in a different time zone, I had the freedom to build my own schedule rather than sticking to a 9 to 5 work day. This had a positive impact on my organisation and time management skills.
- Cost Efficient. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of doing a virtual internship abroad is getting all the benefits of working in a new place whilst saving money on flights, visas and accommodation. I was able to save on such costs while still gaining amazing experience with an organisation based in South Africa.
Making the Most of it
- Forming Connections. With extra distance between colleagues, take every opportunity to be friendly and get to know each other. Most organisations have an ‘about us’ section on their websites and it is helpful to go through that. Participating in all weekly meetings with the team really allowed me to build connections and become a part of the organisation.
- Make a timetable. Staying organised and up to date with deadlines will allow you to maximise your productivity. Making to do lists and taking notes helped me organise my week and finish tasks on time.
- Ask questions. Working virtually was new to me and I also wasn’t expected to know everything. Asking questions to my manager and team members not only helped me understand everything better but also allowed me to build a connection with the team.
- Documenting my experience during the 9 weeks helped me thoroughly reflect on everything I have done and learnt so far. It also helped me understand what I would like to do for my next role. Along with new skills and experiences, I was also able to build a new professional network which will help me in the future.
- Ask for feedback. Asking for feedback not just at the end of your placement but also for your weekly tasks can help improve your skills. For example, getting feedback on all the blogs I wrote really helped me improve my writing and SEO skills.
Finding the right opportunity
- Research the organisation. Whether you are applying for a short course, exchange program at a university or an internship, the first step is to search organisations which will benefit you the most. The first thing I did was search virtual marketing opportunities and figured out which organisation suited me best. If you don’t know where to begin, the Go Abroad website has hundreds of study abroad, volunteer and internship options to look at. Chances are that you will be able to find an opportunity which suits you. Researching thoroughly really helped me find the right internship.
- Understand the application process. In my experience, applications to these organisations can sometimes be complicated. Once you have an institution or company in mind it is helpful to directly to the company website and apply from there. While applying for any funding applications, it is helpful to keep in mind the deadlines and be as descriptive as you can in the application form.
Find out more about Virtual Global Opportunities on Goldsmiths’ Go Abroad page.