COVID-19 and the recovery presents many challenges for the Project Management job market. Organisations face new issues around social sustainability and a need to innovate. On the other hand, university graduates face an increasingly challenging job market. One approach with potential to help graduates and Project Organisations is Virtual Internships in Project Management. Recent graduates will gain valuable experience to add to their CV, while an organisation offering an internship may benefit from fresh new ideas and extra resource.
Virtual Project Management Internships
Project management has never been more in demand but getting started and gaining practical experience can be challenging. Experienced Project Managers wishing to change sector may also benefit from a new experience and the professional development opportunity of a Virtual Project Management Internship.
For Project Organisations, COVID-19 has brought many challenges. New projects, paused projects, more information or the re-thinking of existing projects may require additional resource or new ideas. Offering a Virtual Internship can provide a range of benefits to a Project Organisation, such as applying research to a practical issue, collection and analysis of project data, improved project monitoring or the potential for ‘reverse-mentoring’ where an intern can share their social media skills.
For recent graduates, a Virtual Internship provides practical experience that is a valuable addition to your CV. You will have the opportunity to apply theory to practice, learn from experience, develop your interpersonal and communication skills and have the satisfaction of working on real-world issues and challenges. Working with experienced practitioners may enable you to begin developing a professional network.
APM, the Major Projects Authority and several UK universities are working together on exploring how Project Organisations might offer Virtual Project Management Internships for the benefit of graduates and Project Organisations in the UK.
What is involved?
We suggest Virtual Internships have a duration of 2-3 months. Virtual Interns will work remotely using their own laptop or PC so there is no requirement for on-site office space and Interns should make sure they have use of a mobile phone and a laptop or PC, as well as a suitable place to work. Usually the Internship will be on a full-time basis, with the hours agreed between the Project Organisation and the Intern in advance. The activities to be undertaken will vary depending on the project or projects involved and will be agreed in advance.
Suggested activities could include:
- Compiling and communicating lessons learned from existing and previous projects
- Reviewing completed projects to ensure benefits realisations are captured appropriately
- Providing information to external community stakeholders (through or on behalf of the project project/programme manager)
- Provide short term assistance to a project, or project controls staff
- Support the Project Managers or Programme Manager with ad-hoc administration
- Collecting and analysing new data from teams or stakeholders
- Compiling a report or presentation
- Monitoring and managing project-related social media activity.
This initiative is presently in the pilot stage. Information about how to get involved in included below. If you do take part, your feedback would be appreciated so please contact one of the team members (see below) and share your experience. Based on the feedback we receive we expect to develop templates and resources that will be made available once the pilot is complete.
Getting started: Project Organisation
First, you will need to decide on the role and activities that could be undertaken remotely by a Virtual Intern. Write a job description using the template provided here: https://www.responsiblepm.com/virtual-internships
Next you can either a) submit the job description to the APM Job Site (there is a fee for this service), or b) use the APM Job Site to search for potential applicants who have uploaded their CV and contact them directly.
After this, you should follow your normal selection and recruitment process.
During the pilot stage, we are keen to hear from all those taking part. If you take part in the pilot, please contact one of the team members (see below) so that we can obtain feedback from you.
Getting Started: Graduates
Full or student membership of APM gives you the opportunity to access the APM Job Site. Those enrolled on an APM Accredited course can join APM as a student member (free of change).
You can use the APM Job Site to search the advertisements for a Virtual Internship. You should then apply directly to the advertising Project Organisation. There are also a selection of opportunities advertised here: https://www.responsiblepm.com/virtual-internships
Alternatively, you can upload your CV to the APM Job Site.
You should create a CV with the headline ‘Seeking a Virtual Internship’. Your CV should highlight the skills and knowledge you would bring to a Virtual Internship role, as well as how you would hope to benefit.
Next, go to the APM Job Site and upload your CV. You will then need to wait for prospective Project Organisations to contact you.
Good luck from the Virtual Internship Team
Dr Nigel Williams, Operations and Systems Management Group, University of Portsmouth Nigel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Karen Thompson, People and Organisations Department, Bournemouth University Kthompson@bourneouth.ac.uk