This is the first part of a three-part series written by one of our alumni, Natalie Bright, who now works in marketing at a design studio in London.
From Education to the World of Work
Throughout our childhood to young-adult lives, we don’t have to worry about our next steps. Education dominates and guides our paths – from school to college, and university (or anything else in-between). As such, when I came to the end of my educational journey, it was unsurprising that I felt extremely disoriented, anxious, and unsure of what was to come. In fact, it was the first time in my life I felt out of control.
Confronting Post-University Feelings
Although universities offer career advisors, webinars and graduate days, where employers are invited into institutes to offer students guidance, I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the daunting feeling that many graduates, like myself last year, feel post-education.
Personally, I could feel my anxiety increasing throughout the course of my dissertation – after this colossal piece of literary work that marks the end of my entire academic career… what’s next?
- How will I use my degree?
- What industry do I want to work in?
- How will I stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs, particularly during a pandemic where positions were limited and applicant pools were larger than ever before?
It was a lot to navigate.
Discovering Virtual Internships: The Right Opportunity at the Right Time
However, one afternoon, when I was delving into my final pieces of coursework, an email popped up from my university advertising “Virtual Internships.”
Virtual Internships was promoting the opportunity to work as an intern for a company anywhere in the world, remotely.
At the time, I was interested in pursuing a career in marketing – an incredibly crowded industry. As such, I knew I needed as much internship experience as I could get in order to gain a slight advantage over others in my upcoming job search.
So, as you can imagine, this email naturally caught my eye. However, I wasn’t too sure if the company’s advertisement was authentic, since opportunities to work interculturally and internationally, particularly during the peak of the pandemic, were virtually non-existent. However, the more I read, regarding their alumni’s experiences, and the more I saw, in terms of the host companies they worked with and the geolocations they operated in, I was hooked.
Applying for a Virtual Internship
I applied to the Virtual Internships program, but due to the pandemic and companies being inundated with applications at the time, I expected to hear nothing back. However, within days, my application was processed and I was offered a place in their program.
It was really only at this point that I understood the breadth of opportunity Virtual Internships was offering. From multiple industries to a vast range of geolocations worldwide, and internal support systems separate from the company that you would be working for (such as webinars, career coaches, and advisors), there was a lot on offer.
I was excited. In fact, I was thrilled to be on board and to have been so lucky to be offered the chance to grasp an opportunity that would undoubtedly boost my career prospects. So, that evening, after securing my place, I selected my chosen career path and desired locations and enthusiastically awaited the next step – the matching process.
Matching to My Host Company: Accepting an Internship in America
After a couple of days, I became quite anxious about the matching process. I was hoping for the best and an instant match to a good company, but I was aware that finding an appropriate fit for both an intern and an employer could take a while. Surprisingly though, I received an email within a week from Virtual Internships about a small company in San Francisco that was interested in working with me.
At the time, America was on my radar, but it wasn’t actually a location I thought Virtual Internships offered. So, as you can imagine, matching with an American company came as quite a pleasant surprise to me! The company, “ViewShaper”, was also super interesting and in alignment with a lot of my interests, both in terms of the internship itself and their service at large. As such, I accepted Virtual Internships match, scheduled an interview with the company’s CEO, and began to prepare.
A few weeks later, it was time for my interview. After an initial chat and some questions about myself, my experience, and the role on offer, I was offered the internship. I really enjoyed chatting with Ben at ViewShaper and I admired his vision for the company, so I accepted with pleasure and began sorting out the logistics of the internship with both Virtual Internships and ViewShaper.
Within a few weeks, it was time to start! That’s when everything really started to get interesting…