Brewing up Connections at the PIE Live Event 2022

Last week, Virtual Internships’ co-founders, Daniel Nivern and Ed Holroyd Pearce were delighted to attend The PIE’s in-person conference event and anniversary dinner, #PIELive22, hosted at The Brewery in London.

Throughout the event, there was a great deal of discussion across several panels and sessions about accessibility, equity, skills, and employability, both in a British and an international context. Virtual Internships was spotlighted as a solution to several of these burning issues, gaining significant coverage and recognition.

While reticence from institutions about the rapid changes taking place in higher education is common, others were much more bullish and forward-thinking in their approach. In the session entitled, “What will the future look like for education”, a member of the audience asked, “Do students really want to attend a Metaversity?” A Metaversity is a university hosted in the Metaverse. In response to the question, a forward-thinking panelist raised the fact that a global Fortnite concert recently hosted ten million attendees, and that digital natives are now spending billions of dollars on Roblox and other VR platforms.

At Virtual Internships, we know that remote working is here to stay and is likely to be a significant part of many people’s futures. Hearing about entrepreneurial US universities making big investments in this space was inspiring to us; Steve Grubbs of Victory XR spoke about several case studies of US universities with metaverse campuses under development which made the topic very tangible. 

In another fascinating panel entitled “How can educators deliver on international student employability outcomes?”, the struggle that international students face with finding internships and work experience was brought to the forefront. Once again, this is an issue directly solved by the Virtual Internships program, and the pathway that led some of our university partners to us initially. Sanam Arora, National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK, spoke about the need for ‘visa-blind hiring practices’ to combat the problem of employers turning down internships for those on post-study work visas due to a lack of understanding of the visa process when hiring foreign nationals. In the same panel, Noeleen Hammond-Jones made several spot-on observations about the problems with university career provision for international students; Clare Cairns of Kaplan also noted how a partnership with Virtual Internships has enabled an offering of tangible, international work experience, alongside career readiness training and personalized career coaching.

Finally, Ed Holroyd Pearce was delighted to attend a panel entitled “Women at the top table,” and found several panelists’ comments to be very aligned with Virtual Internships’ current Women Returners program being delivered on behalf of the Scottish government. Furthermore, panelists also mentioned the different approaches men and women have to job descriptions: if a man sees a 50-60% overlap with his skillset in a particular job description, he’s likely to apply; whereas women generally want to see a 100% match to apply. It poses the question: how do we combat such differences during the hiring process?

Virtual Internships would like to finally congratulate The PIE team on another amazing event and are looking forward to attending and supporting future events.

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