Job search tips

Virtual internships- Shortlist

Virtual Internships: The best way to get ahead right now, for employers and interns

1869 1156 Mita Mandawker

‘Virtual internship’ has been one of many COVID-19 buzz words we have become familiar with since pandemic forced many students to abandon their traditional internship programs.

Traditionally, internships are an important way for students to evaluate different fields before making a career decision. For companies, internships are like an extended interview, allowing them to get to know potential hires through practical experience. For many students, such as B-school students (especially in India), internships are a compulsory part of students’ curriculum.

In light of COVID-19, many employers with internship programs are reconsidering their programs and deciding what to do next. Around 10% of employers have cancelled internship programs altogether, or are considering virtual programs.

When students were asked about internship programs, 89% of students pursuing a 2020 summer internship would prefer a virtual internship over a cancelled one.  Instead of cancelling internship programs altogether, many employers are considering virtual internships instead.

At Shortlist, we started hiring virtual interns after the pandemic and are proud to host five interns who work across a host of projects for us.

What exactly is a virtual internship and how is it different from a traditional internship?

A virtual internship is when an intern works remotely for your company as opposed to working from your office. The entire internship is completed online, without the need for interns to be present physically at the job site.
Virtual internships are a great way for students to start their careers and learn the tricks of the trade from the comforts of home. In the age of digital jobs and remote work, virtual internships can be a great way to get that experience early on in your career.

How do employers benefit from virtual internships?

Workers on a need-only basis 

All companies have projects which require grind work and when you have your employees work on those, it often takes away their focus from more important projects. These projects can often be executed by someone more junior, freeing up your more experienced staff to oversee the projects (instead of doing them) and concentrate on important projects. Virtual interns are great talent to plug into projects like this, which give them real-world exposure and help you get important work done.

Virtual internship programs offer employers the freedom to hire interns on a project and requirement basis and for a timeframe they would be comfortable with.

This way employers are not restricted to creating projects for internship programs specifically and benefit from interns the whole year round.

Larger applicant pool

With tradition (on-site) internships, employers have to restrict themselves to candidates who live close to the office or close enough to commute easily. With this restricted talent pool, companies may miss out on great talent that is based out of another city or region.

When working with virtual interns, geographic barriers disappear. Companies can focus on getting the best talent from across the globe to work for them.

Save resources

As virtual interns do not sit out of your office, you don’t have to allocate workspace, and assets (laptop, basic office equipment, etc) to them.

With most remote internships, employers don’t have many expenses for the interns apart from the pay, saving on resources compared to in-person employees.

And, as long as work is tracked properly (there’s software out there to help), interns who work remotely will be paid for actual work done, eliminating hours of unproductive paid work.

In addition to hiring our own virtual interns, Shortlist has recruited over 1000 interns who are available for virtual internships. If your company is interested in setting up a virtual internship program or gaining access to our pool of virtual interns, get in touch with us here.

How do interns benefit from virtual internships?

Intern anytime, anywhere (from the comfort of your home)

A lot of candidates are looking for international work experience during their courses, but landing an internship in another country is not only difficult but also a considerable strain financially. Companies don’t always cover expenses for interns and internships don’t always tend to pay much (at least not enough to cover the expenses of moving to another country to do the work). (Not to mention that COVID-19 has halted most international work and travel plans for the near future.)

With virtual internships, candidates have the freedom to choose where they work. It is possible to get exposure to global teams and working styles from the comfort of your home, without any strain on your finances.

As a bonus, getting global exposure at the start of your career will reflect well on your resume (click for tips on how to put together a stellar resume).

Flex hours with no commute

Timings are often flexible for virtual internships (certainly more flexible than in-person internships). This means that you could potentially do a virtual internship alongside your studies and normal college routines without compromising them.

A lot of candidates also choose to do multiple internships together, utilizing their time to learn tricks of different trades, while they are in student mode. As a result, when they step out in the job market, they have a good idea of what kind of work they would like to do and a well-fortified resume with experience from multiple internships.

Think about all the time saved on a commute – it’s almost enough to get a second internship! Virtual internships can be a great way to save time and money and add to your CV!

Hone important job skills

Doing an internship virtually involves significant use and knowledge of digital skills. Increasingly, digital literacy is an extremely important skill when it comes to finding your first job. Working remotely helps you develop and build on these all-important skills.

They also boost your resume as you are able to demonstrate a variety of skills (learnt from multiple internships) that are valuable to employers.

Anyone who works remotely has to be focused and motivated to work and complete tasks without supervision. Virtual internships inculcate discipline, and ability to work independently early on in the career.

At Shortlist, we believe in the value of virtual internships. We are actively helping students and candidates interested in pursuing virtual internships connect with employers. Are you interested in a virtual internship? You can share your details here to sign up today.

Like any other internship, what you get out of it is commensurate to what you put into it. Virtual internships will continue to grow in popularity in years to come and may serve as a viable, cost-effective way for employers to conduct their internship programs and for candidates to get a far-reaching experience, valuable job skills right at the beginning of your career.

virtual interviews

Virtual Interviews: How to prep and ace them

475 321 Brenda Akinyi

Virtual hiring is set to be a new wave for most organizations in the coming times. With companies working to develop and implement strategies that allow for remote hiring, interviewing and onboarding, as a professional on the other side of the spectrum, are you prepared to ace virtual interviews?

Despite the physical absence keep in mind that with the right tools, recruiters are able to evaluate you just as well as they would during an in-person interview. It’s therefore important to prepare just as much for virtual interviews while being aware of the different challenges and opportunities they present. While you may already be familiar with the common tips on interview preparation and showing up on the d-day, in this blog we share some pro tips to help you shine in your virtual interviews.

#1. Set up your space

If you can, ensure you have a blank background to avoid distracting your interviewers. It might be helpful to move around things in your room to create a more professional environment. Minimize the clutter around you as it can be distracting both to you and those conducting the interview. Be mindful of the lighting in the room. Make sure it shows up well on video.

Just like you would go for an in-person interview, ensure you have a print out of your CV beforehand. You don’t want to be clicking through different tabs on your screen during your interview. Ensure that you are also well prepared, practice your responses to common interview questions without necessarily memorizing them to help you sound more authentic.

#2. Check your virtual interview technology

Whether or not you are familiar with the app in use(e.g. Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex, etc.), you should need prep your technology set up so you can ensure you don’t have any mishaps on the d-day. Have a mock interview with another person to test out the sound and video and fix any glitches. Mock interviews will also help you know whether your space is right for the interview.

Practice your responses during the mock interview to get an idea of what you sound like. Your tone of voice says a lot; You want to stay calm and collected throughout. This will help you identify where you might need to make adjustments. Be sure to also mute out any desktop notifications on your computer and on your phone to avoid unnecessary interruptions during the interview.

#3. While you dress to impress…be careful not to distract

When it comes to color, it’s easy to get away with brighter tones and hues while having in-person interviews. However, it’s a tricky balance with virtual interviews as certain colors or patterns show up differently on video. When choosing what to wear, keep in mind that solid colors like grey, black, and navy blue colors show up well while whites, reds, pinks, purples and complicated patterns may appear too bright and be distracting to your interviewer.

Do consider the type of jewelry you choose to wear as well. If you must have jewelry keep it subtle as bright pieces can reflect on camera. For the ladies, pay attention to your make up as well. Much as it will not show on video as much as it would in person, you want to keep it neutral.

#4. Non-verbal cues matter during virtual interviews too

When you sit down for your interview, ensure that your head, neck, and shoulders are visible. Mind your posture, as a slouchy position may imply a lack of interest or that you are a timid person. Fidgeting too much can also reflect poorly on your confidence so be sure to keep this in check. Another thing to pay close attention to is gesturing. While sometimes gesturing can help you emphasize a point, too much of it tends to be distracting.

Remember to mirror your audience as this helps you build rapport by making them feel that there is something they like about you. This can include anything from their posture, gestures, sitting position, tone of voice and talking pace. One thing to note though, avoid mirroring any negative body language as this will just give off negative vibes.

After your interview, don’t forget to seal the deal. You should be as courteous after the interview as you were during the recruitment process. This may help you stay top of mind and give you an opportunity to clarify anything you might have missed out on.

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Interview tips

How to Ace Your Next Interview — Part 1: The Prep

1600 1067 Brenda Akinyi

Shortlist helps candidates find and apply to great jobs, and the best-fit candidates advance to interviews with employers. We’ve written a practical guide for job seekers like you, to make sure you put your best foot forward and feel prepared and confident for the big day! In this post, we share tips for the first step of acing your interview — the preparation.

Congrats on landing an interview! Now, what do you do?

Have you showed up to an interview unprepared and actually thought you could ace it freestyle? I have, and the second I sat in front of the panel of interviewers, I realized it was probably the worst idea I’ve had in my entire career.

Here are seven tips for you to feel fully prepared and confident for your next interview:

1. Read, research…stalk!

Whatever you’d like to call it, do what you need to do to make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the organization is all about. Here are some questions to consider as you research:

  • What is the company’s mission and vision?
  • What are the company’s products or services? Who are their clients or customers?
  • What’s their latest project/product launch/offer?
  • What is the company’s work culture? Will you be successful in that work style?
  • Have they won awards or been honoured for some of their work?

Hosting interviews takes a ton of time and effort on the company’s part, and nothing turns off an employer more than a candidate who shows that they never took the time to learn the basics. It won’t matter how good you are on paper and how well you have presented yourself, you will lose points if you don’t have a solid understanding of their organisation. So do your research! Remember:

“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”

― Idowu Koyenikan

2. Understand the necessary skills and key responsibilities of the role

During the interview, you must be able to show the employer that you have the necessary skill set required for the role. One way you can approach this is thinking through instances where you have utilized them in your previous work experience. If you’ve never done them before, think through how you would approach these new responsibilities.

Also, note the responsibilities that the role would involve and provide examples of instances where you have engaged in similar tasks.

If you’re applying for the role from outside the industry or are pulling off a career switch, make sure to identify transferrable skills and emphasize them during the interview. For example, if you’d like to move from administrative work to an operational role, you could explain how needing to be extremely organised in your past jobs would serve you well in an operations position.

We design our job descriptions to thoroughly explain the role to applicants. Make sure you know the JD from front and back and have thoughtfully considered how you match the must-haves.

3. Prepare some questions in advance

Most interviewers will allow you to ask questions at the end of your session. To avoid becoming flustered and having to make up questions on the spot, prepare them in advance, and write them down. Some example questions might be:

  • I was excited to read that [element of their work culture] is a major part of your company culture. How have you experienced that during your time here?
  • How could I grow and evolve in this role in a way that would support the Organization?
  • What is the biggest priority for your department/company right now? Any challenges?

Just remember — don’t ask questions that can be found on the company’s website. If you followed step one, you’ll already know everything there is to know 🙂

4. Plan what to carry

Ensure you have at least four copies of your CV with you, as you might not know what type of interview you will be having (it could be one-on-one, a panel interview, or something else entirely). It may seem unprofessional to the employer if you come empty-handed, assuming they will have made copies on their end.

You should be sure to carry a pen and notepad to note down information or questions that come up during the session.

5. Before the interview, get your mind in the right place

Before the interview, take some time to self-reflect and consider how you want to frame your past experience, strengths, and weaknesses to the employer. Know your personal and career journey inside out. Prepare your examples and references. And be authentic!

Even though you might be nervous, be sure to get a good night’s sleep! You do not want to find yourself distracted, tired, or yawning!

6. Look your best to feel your best

The right candidate should be hired based on their skills and potential, not their appearance. However, taking the time to look professional and polished can boost your confidence and help you feel at ease on the big day.

Pick an outfit that is comfortable and fits well. Try to learn a bit about the company’s office culture when choosing your interview outfit. In specific industries like finance and consulting, most offices follow a business dress code, and you should as well. But for smaller companies or startups, they may have a much looser dress code in their office. If you show up in a suit and tie for a job at a startup in a coworking space, it could indicate that you don’t have a clear idea of their company culture and expectations.

7. Be on time

Always purpose to begin your journey to the interview location early (even earlier than you think you need to!). Look up the area in advance or if need be, call the organization to confirm to avoid the mishap of missing the location.

If for some reason you are running late, call the interviewer or contact person at the organization and inform them, letting them know when they can expect you. You are better off calling in advance rather than showing up late without having communicated.

If you are unable to make it to the interview or are no longer interested in the position, ensure that you communicate this to the employer immediately upon receiving an interview invitation. Maintaining your professionalism in this kind of situation is always appreciated.

We hope that these tips will be helpful for you as you prepare for your next interview — you got this! Check out our second and third series on interviewing: The interview and How to seal the deal

Hoping to find a job soon? take a look at our current openings with our partner organizations:

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Social media

Activating the power of social media for your career

3936 2624 Brenda Akinyi

We recently led a career coaching session at a local university when a student asked, “I’ve heard that employers look at your social media accounts when they’re considering you for job placement. Is this true? And if so, what should we do to make sure we give the right impression?”

This is a great question and one that professionals around the world are increasingly contemplating. The answer is yes — many employers use social media as another means of understanding a candidate’s personality beyond the polished confines of the interview room. The rule of thumb we recommend is to ask yourself before you post anything publicly, “Would I want my next employer to see this?” If the answer is yes, post away.

We understand that some content you want to post is light-hearted and purely social, but when in doubt we advise that you keep content meant for friends — and not your employer or professional connections — in private settings.

But social media isn’t just a risk factor for your career — it can have a positive impact as well! Here are a few ways that social media can work for you while building your career:

Use social media to build your brand

Social media provides an avenue for individuals to showcase who they are, their passions and talents. To use this as a tool to build your brand, decide the level of interaction you prefer and stick to it.

Choose the platform that you like to use the best — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all serve a different purpose and attract a diverse audience. Whichever you choose, you want to maintain consistency across these platforms.

For instance, LinkedIn provides an opportunity to tell a story about your professional journey. Use this wisely by ensuring that your information is up to date from your employment history to projects and volunteer activities. List your areas of expertise and offer advice to other professionals who are interested in the same field.

As an alternative, Twitter and Facebook are conversational platforms where people share their views on current trends and topics. These can be great avenues to use social media for your career by engaging with other like-minded individuals, raise awareness on issues that you are passionate about in discourse on social issues.

If you’re more keen on laid-back platforms to showcase your hobbies and creative side, Instagram and Snapchat are right up your alley. The visual storytelling and engagement elements of these platforms make them a great one for aspiring marketers and content creators to focus on.

Whatever the social media platform of your choice, here are a few housekeeping rules to keep in mind:

  • Ensure that your information is accurate across all platforms.
  • Avoid the use of unprofessional names; use your official names across all platforms.
  • Pick a profile picture that portrays an image you want the world to see. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. Ensure that your posts are thoughtful and do not have grammatical errors. Remember, you never know who is looking at your profile!

The lack of attention to detail can give the impression that you would make similar mistakes in professional emails which could, in turn, turn off a potential employer.

Showcase your expertise

You can use social media for your career by positioning yourself as a thought leader through contributing to topics in your area of interest and knowledge, sharing relevant articles and actively pursuing offline opportunities to build your brand. Social proof goes a long way!

Cultivating useful social media habits is bound to position you as an expert. Some of these include:

  • Stay informed on the latest developments in your areas of interest. Do this by, following relevant accounts, industry leaders, and groups.
  • Take a peek at some of your favourite companies and follow their corporate pages. You never know what might pop up in your LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram feed.
  • Post some of your content or join in on conversations in your area of speciality.
  • Share your story and connect with like-minded individuals. You’d be surprised at the level of influence you may have on these platforms just by being authentic and sharing your knowledge.

If you’re on social media, be active

Merely signing up won’t cut it; engage with your audience with consistency. Share content a few times a week. Take time to respond to other peoples’ comments on your posts and private messages.

Consistency will help you build your audience and through that, your brand!

Have fun and show your personality

Using social media for your career does not have to be yet another formal pursuit after your 8 to 5. Feel free to share your hobbies, talk about an awesome personal project you are working on. Post your ideal wind-down routine, recipes, travel experiences, and whatever else brings you joy! Additionally, your varied interests may also show that you are well-rounded and able to balance your work and personal life.

But don’t forget…

There are, however, some types of content that are never okay to post online. This includes aggressive or derogatory posts and anything suggestive of illegal behaviour. Similarly, airing out your frustrations about your job, boss, or client all make you appear unprofessional and immature. Get to understand your organisation’s policies on social media; you may have restrictions on what topics you can discuss as they may point to some of your clients or the organisation itself.

Even if your accounts are set to private, it’s important to note that everything leaves behind a digital footprint and an uncomfortable situation could be just a screenshot away.

What are your favourite social media accounts to follow, and why? Let us know through our channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

If you are in the market for a new job, take a look at our current openings with our partner organizations:

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​Not sure about that sales job? Go for it – your career will thank you!

1280 861 Brenda Akinyi

Have you ever considered taking a sales job? No doubt, the art of selling comes a little easier to certain people than it does to others. But if you’ve never considered yourself the “sales” type, you may be missing out.

An opportunity in sales can turn into a lifelong career or simply a stepping stone towards a different path, as Alice Mbori-Mwalimo, Head of Sales at GlaxoSmithKline Kenya, noted recently at a Shortlist panel discussion. She observed that sales professionals are more likely than any other function to progress to a General Manager, due to their deep understanding of the product and customer, and the other valuable skills they’ve developed over time in a sales position.

What exactly are those skills? Read on to learn more:

Clear and persuasive communication

The key to a great salesperson is their ability to communicate persuasively and succinctly, so taking on a sales job can help you cultivate those qualities. With consistent practice and engagement with different customers, you will learn how to adapt to different communication tactics depending on the individual you are interacting with.

In a sales job, you’ll learn how to deliver an effective elevator pitch, a hallmark of great communication skills. In a fast-paced environment, you will find that the ability to succinctly communicate your value proposition is essential.

Communication and presentation skills will be valuable to you both in personal and professional areas, no matter your chosen field. After all, every day you are explaining an idea, process or feeling to others around you – why not hone that skill in your job, too?

Active listening

One of the most significant outcomes of a sales job is the cultivation of excellent listening skills. It’s no secret that people love to talk – especially about themselves, their achievements and their needs – and customers are no exception. It’s crucial that you listen and make them feel that they are heard. You learn how to take a step back and prioritize listening to those around you rather than focus on the hard sell. This will be helpful in any role, especially as a manager.

Flexibility and adaptability

As you gain more experience in your sales role, you will face some uncertain situations which have the potential of throwing you off course – these can range from meeting schedules, locations, or changing client needs. In a sales job, you will learn how to navigate these and ensure that you can adapt to whatever setting you find yourself in.

 Resilience and grit

It’s no secret that a sales role will have its tough moments- unmet targets, demanding client needs, and tiring days full of meetings and demos. But each time you find a way to get past these challenges, you build your resilience. Learning how to manage setbacks and stressful situations will go a long way in helping you push through hurdles until you succeed.

In a sales job, Sealing the deal is crucial!Confidence

Walking up to someone and starting a conversation is certainly not an easy task. Every cold-call or client meeting will be scary in the beginning. However, it gets easier with time. As you learn how to interact with different people in diverse situations, you ultimately build your confidence in selling and presenting yourself. In turn, this will be key throughout your career, especially when networking during a job search.

 Problem-solving

For your product to have value in a potential client’s eyes, you need to be solving a problem for them. As Salesforce sales expert Aaron Ross said, “Customers don’t care at all whether you close the deal or not. They care about improving their business.”

Other times you may encounter challenges with the functionality of a product sold to a client. As a salesperson, you need to understand the customer’s needs. In addition to this, understand your product functionality from end to end to troubleshoot appropriately.

Research skills in your sales job and beyond

To be a successful salesperson, you must understand what your potential customer does. With a sales job, every day you will be conducting research into an organisation’s operations. You will also prepare questions you will need to ask to get the most useful information. This skill will benefit you in the long run as ultimately, you learn how to make decisions based on facts.

The beauty of the skills you gain from a sales role is that they are transferable across different fields and industries. So next time you get an opportunity to take up a sales job, go into it with an open mind and see where you can go! Oh, and did we mention the flexibility in work hours? 

In conclusion, whether you are new to sales or are already working within the field, developing these eight skills will help you advance to the next level. For all, you book lovers, a great one I’d recommend is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. In this book, he shares simple rules on how to achieve success with people. All these, illustrated from his own and others’ experiences.

For more job opportunities in sales, sign up to take a look at our current openings with our partner organizations:

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Have you had the opportunity to take on a role outside your field of study? Please share some of your key learnings with us in the comment section.