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Alumni Voices: The Significance of Remote Work Experience in Southern Africa
Whilst studying Accounting and Finance at Botho University in Botswana, Leeroy became increasingly aware that he needed to gain international work experience. Yet, limitations on travel during the pandemic made this difficult.
Thankfully, Leeroy was able to boost his career prospects and gain his unbeatable advantage when Botho University partnered with Virtual Internships in 2020 to help boost the employability of their students.
Now, Leeroy is sharing both the benefits and challenges of remote work in Southern Africa and the increasingly significant role it plays in international students’ futures.
Embracing Changes in the World of Work
We all face changes every day – it could be a simple change in the weather, our schedule, or an expected change of seasons. Change is the only constant in life and we should all embrace it and see the opportunities for growth that it brings.
In the world of work, changes can affect a whole team of employees who may embrace them in different ways. In 2020, the world changed, people were not able to walk around without wearing a mask or sanitizing their hands multiple times a day. This became the new normal.
At the same time, companies had to change their flexible working policies and most companies were converting to mainly online working. Today, the working world has changed forever with companies realizing the opportunities and advantages of utilizing remote employment opportunities. Throughout the last two years, the benefits of remote work have reached Southern Africa and many companies are rapidly adapting to this new way of working.
Dilemmas Faced in Remote Work and How to Overcome Them
As a student at a Southern African University, you are supposed to have 6-12 months of practical, hands-on work experience as part of your course. Currently, students in Southern Africa prefer traditional in-person internships, and students are mostly unaware that there are other ways to gain global work experience.
Although universities in the continent now allow students to do remote internships, many maintain the belief that the only way to gain real experience is through in-office or physical settings. Changing from the traditional way to the new way is always a problem for students as it invokes several fears. According to a small study done in Southern Africa, these two factors were most common amongst the students asked:
- The fear that load shedding and unreliable internet providers might hinder productivity while working remotely.
- Peer pressure from others as they believe that a physical internship is superior to a remote internship, therefore an online internship would not be advantageous.
Are there ways to overcome these cultural obstacles? Firstly, to address the issue of access to a proper power supply and an internet connection, you can often operate where there is good power and WiFi supply such as a local coffee shop or on campus. Botho University factored this into their partnership with Virtual Internships to ensure students had the opportunity to work remotely from campus to ensure a reliable internet connection.
As for the second dilemma, it is sharing stories like this that will help show students like me that remote work experience is actually just as beneficial –if not more– to in-person work experience. It enables you to work with global companies, gain insight into a new culture, and build the work-ready skills that employers of today are looking for.
Employers want to know you’re ready for remote work and virtual internships do exactly that!
Southern African Businesses Need Flexible Employees
Over the past few years, the world of work has evolved and employers aren’t only looking for employees with merely physical experience but also with remote working experience due to the different skill set it demonstrates.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, most companies were closed and those companies that were not flexible lost a lot of revenue. Since then, companies have transformed and now more than 46% of companies in Southern Africa offer full-time remote working jobs.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 85% of the companies surveyed said that changing to remote work resulted in a significant increase in productivity. Most companies are now in need of employees with remote working experience as it is helping the productivity of companies. During the survey, companies were asked for the reasons why they are in need of such employees and these were the reasons that stood out amongst the others:
- Employees who work remotely take more breaks than workers who work physically and this leads to increased productivity.
- Hiring employees remotely reduced the overhead costs of the company as fewer premises were needed for more employees.
- Hiring remotely increased the breadth of the talent pool for companies.
For these reasons, companies in Southern Africa are now more interested in hiring employees who are flexible to work remotely at any time.
How Virtual Internships Help Students, Universities, and Companies Gain an Unbeatable Advantage
Increasingly, employers in Southern Africa are looking to hire employees with remote working experience. VI links you with some of the world’s most exciting companies, to complete work experience with an international business and make global connections to ensure you’re securing your unbeatable advantage for your future.
With over 250,000 internship opportunities in 150 countries available on the platform and growing by the day, Virtual Internships programming offers a 100% guarantee that you will be matched with a company in your desired career field and region, given training, and made more employable.