How Virtual Internships Align with NACE Career Readiness Competencies

In today's rapidly evolving job market, employers are seeking candidates who possess a range of competencies beyond academic qualifications. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has identified eight key career readiness competencies that are crucial for students to develop in order to succeed in their professional lives. 

As virtual internships continue to gain popularity, it becomes essential to explore how these internships align with and contribute to the development of these competencies. In this blog post, we do exactly that.

1. Career & Self-Development

Career and self-development is the ability to assess one's skills and interests, set career goals, and continually learn and adapt to changes. Experiential learning provides ample opportunities for career exploration, self-reflection, and growth. 

Through experiential learning programs, students can gain exposure to diverse industries, roles, and professional environments, enabling them to refine their career aspirations. Engaging in industry-led projects also helps students enhance their self-awareness, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and take proactive steps to develop their skills further. 

  • Engaging in self-reflection exercises to identify personal career goals and areas for improvement.
  • Actively seeking feedback from supervisors and mentors to enhance professional growth.
  • Participating in virtual career development workshops and webinars to gain industry insights and expand knowledge.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • The purpose of an Intern Experience Manager (IEM) is to support the intern to set and reach individual objectives. 
  • It is encouraged that the intern has a personal awareness of their career goals and how to achieve them in a set timeframe. 
  • VI interns engage in two coaching calls with qualified coaches during their programs which supports them to develop their own career management plan, reflect and articulate the skills gained from their experiential learning program, and set goals and actionable steps in the ongoing professional journey. 

2. Communication

Communication is the ability to effectively convey and exchange information through various channels. Experiential learning provides a unique platform for students to hone their communication skills, as they must rely heavily on digital tools and platforms to collaborate with colleagues and supervisors. 

Through experiential learning, students learn to adapt their communication styles to virtual settings, ensuring clarity, conciseness, and professionalism in their written and verbal interactions. They also develop skills in virtual presentation, active listening, and cross-cultural communication.

  • Utilizing online communication tools effectively, such as email, instant messaging, and video conferencing, to convey ideas and information.
  • Practicing active listening and asking relevant questions to ensure understanding.
  • Delivering virtual presentations or participating in virtual meetings to effectively communicate project updates or findings.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • The relationship that VI interns build with their Intern Experience Manager, the continuous feedback loop, and wraparound support will guide interns on their professional written and communication development, through emails and in-person conversations and dialogue. 
  • VI interns actively practice and develop communication skills through daily interactions with their supervisor remotely, learning the importance of effective and clear communication in a real workplace environment.

3. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information to make informed decisions and solve complex problems. Experiential learning offers a dynamic environment that fosters critical thinking skills development. 

Interns are exposed to real-world challenges and projects, requiring them to think critically and develop innovative solutions. They learn to gather and assess information from various sources, collaborate with team members, and apply logical reasoning to address complex problems remotely.

  • Conducting comprehensive research to gather relevant information for project analysis.
  • Applying analytical frameworks and tools to assess data and draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Collaborating virtually with team members to brainstorm ideas and develop effective strategies.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • Through a constant feedback loop with their supervisor and Intern Experience Manager, interns are encouraged to:
    • Come up with solutions to problems
    • Ask questions to learn about the different company departments
    • Approach problem-solving from a number of different perspectives

4. Equity & Inclusion:

Equity and inclusion refer to creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive work environment. Experiential learning provides an opportunity to transcend geographical boundaries and engage with professionals from different backgrounds and cultures. 

Through experiential learning, students can develop an understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion and learn to work effectively with individuals from various ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. Experiential learning also fosters inclusivity by providing students with a flexible work environment that accommodates different needs and abilities.

  • Actively participating in diversity and inclusion training programs or workshops.
  • Collaborating with diverse teams and respecting different perspectives and experiences.
  • Promoting an inclusive environment by leveraging digital tools to facilitate effective communication and engagement.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • The VI program matches interns with a host company, no matter where they are in the world based on career field preferences
  • As a result, the intern has the opportunity to gain experience with other cultures, customs, and working methods and will need to adapt accordingly. 

5. Leadership

Leadership involves the ability to take initiative, motivate others, and guide a team toward shared goals. While experiential learning may pose challenges in terms of physical proximity, it still offers opportunities for students to develop leadership skills. 

Through experiential learning, students can demonstrate their initiative by taking ownership of assigned tasks, providing support and guidance to team members, and effectively managing time and resources. They also have the chance to participate in virtual team projects, fostering collaboration and leadership in a remote setting.

  • Taking the initiative to propose and implement process improvements.
  • Providing guidance and mentorship to fellow interns or team members.
  • Collaborating virtually to complete team projects, coordinating tasks, and ensuring smooth workflow.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • Interns in the VI program are an integral part of the team from day one of the placement, with real tasks to complete, real targets, and real contributions to company life. 
  • The interns will witness leadership at many different levels and, supported by their supervisor, will be able to analyze and identify different styles, and how to work with each for maximum productivity and success. 

6. Professionalism

Professionalism entails acting with integrity, demonstrating ethical behavior, and maintaining a professional image. Experiential learning provides an ideal setting for students to develop and exhibit professionalism. 

Through experiential learning, students learn to adhere to professional etiquette in digital communication, meet deadlines, and maintain confidentiality. They also gain experience in remote work dynamics and learn to balance autonomy with accountability.

  • Communicating professionally and respectfully in all virtual interactions.
  • Maintaining punctuality for virtual meetings and project deliverables.
  • Upholding confidentiality and ethical standards in handling sensitive information.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • In a VI placement, each intern is supported by an Intern Experience Manager (IEM) who supports their professional and personal well-being through verbal and written feedback, open and honest communication, and trust. 
  • The IEM also has an open communication channel with the host company’s Intern Manager so that we can coach each intern to be their most professional selves with a healthy work ethic. 
  • During the intern onboarding process, the expectations and best practices for maintaining professionalism in a remote work environment are outlined for interns to adhere to which helps set them up for success.

7. Teamwork

Teamwork involves the ability to collaborate effectively with others to achieve shared goals. Experiential learning allows students to develop teamwork skills in a remote setting. 

Through virtual collaboration tools and platforms, students learn to work collaboratively, coordinate efforts, and contribute to achieving team objectives. They also develop skills in remote conflict resolution, adaptability, and empathy.

  • Participating actively in virtual team meetings and discussions.
  • Collaborating virtually on shared projects, contributing ideas and insights.
  • Resolving conflicts or disagreements among team members remotely, fostering a positive team environment.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • Integration into the daily dynamics of each host company is integral to the success of the VI program and the intern experience. 
  • This includes working with and in support of many different team members, learning how to support, contribute, and collaborate whilst getting real work done for the revenue and growth of the company. 

8. Technology

Technology competency refers to the ability to use digital tools and technologies effectively and ethically. Experiential learning inherently involves the utilization of various digital tools and technologies. 

Interns gain hands-on experience with remote collaboration tools, project management software, and data analysis tools, enhancing their technological proficiency. They also learn to adapt to new technologies and leverage them to enhance productivity and performance.

  • Effectively utilizing virtual collaboration tools, such as project management software and cloud-based platforms.
  • Analyzing and interpreting data using digital tools and software applications.
  • Staying up to date with emerging technologies and exploring innovative solutions.

How the Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program supports this: 

  • Full immersion in each host company means each intern is encouraged to participate in real organizational tasks, on the relevant platforms and using the required software. 
  • VI interns are given the opportunity to apply their existing technical skills to a real-world project. 

Give Your Students An Unbeatable Advantage for Their Career

The Virtual Internships Career Accelerator Program provides an excellent platform for students to develop and cultivate the NACE 8 career readiness competencies. They’ll gain hands-on experience, enhance their communication and critical thinking skills, embrace diversity and inclusion, and develop as professionals in a virtual work environment. 

As higher education professionals, we must recognize the value of work-integrated learning experiences as a pathway to employment and encourage students to explore these opportunities to bolster their career readiness and succeed in the ever-evolving world of work.

Request a demo and find out more about how a partnership with Virtual Internships could benefit your students and institution here. 

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