Posted by Ollie on 20 May 2020
On March 23rd, Boris announced an unprecedented state of lockdown across the UK in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. For students who had secured Easter Insights with employers, this had a significant impact. The Institute of Student Employers stating 68% of their employer member-base “cancelled work experience and short-term insight opportunities”, which given the immediacy and rapidity of the health situation, it’s completely understandable.
But what happened to the 32% of employers that didn’t cancel their programmes?
Some employers have postponed their work experience opportunities to later in the Summer and some employers have continued their commitment to students and turning their Easter Insights into virtual programmes. A commendable effort given the scale and speed at which they had to respond.
We’ve all had to listen, learn and adapt to the market fast and I’m so proud of how the RMP team has responded. In April, we shared our thoughts and innovations in The Impact of COVID-19 on Undergraduate Programmes webinar to the record 630 employers and universities signed up.
As employers (and therefore the market) changed, we’ve made new developments to the review process on RateMyPlacement.co.uk in similar quick time too; students on Virtual Insight and Virtual Internship programmes, can now review their experiences on RateMyPlacement, to help inspire other students following in their footsteps.
Amongst the hundreds of Virtual Insight reviews submitted in the past month across a range of Accountancy, Banking & Finance employers, here’s our top tips for running Virtual Insight programmes:
1. Make the effort!
Work experience is the first step on the career ladder for many university students and they know how vital they are to their career. By going above and beyond, students genuinely appreciate the efforts of HR teams, employees and employers and will not forget it!
Under the current circumstances, I appreciate how EY made the effort to organise a virtual event. It was very well-paced and interactive throughout, and I definitely learnt a lot - EY Virtual Insight student
The structure was fantastic. The Careers team put in a lot of effort transferring our Spring Week to a Virtual Spring Week in a very short amount of time. We were always busy for most of the day learning about different sectors of the bank and I am so grateful that they provided us with this opportunity. - Credit Suisse Virtual Insight student
2. Challenge them
Credit Suisse asked students to complete tasks beforehand, which meant students could prepare, speak to any support and make best use of the time.
We had to complete online courses beforehand, and then each virtual session had a clear focus and goal. This was useful because I could let my buddy know what we were planning on covering… then ask for help as to how to get the most out of the session. - Credit Suisse Virtual Insight student
It was thoroughly enjoyable throughout, even though presented virtually due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The presenters were all very friendly and supportive throughout and we were still able to do a group presentation and a group stock-picking simulation. - Nomura Virtual Insight student
3. Leave the virtual door open
‘My door is always open’ is a term you’ll often hear, but not one you’d expect if your Insight experience is complete. With EY’s speakers being available for follow ups, the commitment to students across the business is clear and the Bank of America quote shows they’re thinking about future contact points with their students to keep them warm and engaged with the bank post-Insight.
The panel and speakers made sure to leave their LinkedIn and contact details so that we could connect with them with any questions or information if we wanted, which I really appreciate. - EY Virtual Insight student
The bank has really invested in the participants. For example over the summer holidays we are going to have skill development workshops to prepare us for the fast track internship assessment day. They have also spent time to ensure that the virtual spring week is as informative as the usual in person program. - BAML Virtual Insight student
4. Show your culture
You’d think not being in an office environment would impact this, however, quotes from the reviews submitted below from students at Morgan Stanley and UBS show how positive they’ve been for showcasing your culture.
I gained a good insight into Morgan Stanley's company culture, despite the fact that the programme had to be run completely virtually. This turned out to be a little less formal than I expected which was a nice surprise - Morgan Stanley Virtual Insight student
The atmosphere was generally upbeat and engaging, which was impressive given the virtual nature. The organisers went to every effort to keep everyone engaged, and the speakers were very interesting and eager to answer questions. For example, ending each day with a new song! Definitely gave a positive reflection into the general atmosphere at UBS. - UBS Virtual Insight student
5. Make it personal
It’s hard to replace the connection you get with people when face-to-face, however the below quotes show just how important it is. The Morgan Stanley quote highlights the importance of ‘the cohort’, all getting to know one another contributing to the whole experience, with the Citi quote highlighting a nice, easy task which clearly brought everyone together.
Despite the virtual aspect, I really thought the recruiters put a lot of effort into the few days and I definitely learnt a lot. I did feel however, it lacked personal engagement. We were never given a list of other participants names to connect with or reach out to, which would have been very beneficial. We didn’t get the chance to perform any case studies or practical work - Morgan Stanley Virtual Insight student
Considering that the programme was virtual, I felt as valued as I could have given the circumstances. Citi included a "getting to know you" session, which helped us all feel even more involved than we already had through our participation in questions and answers. Everyone who spoke to us was very friendly and genuine and made us feel valued. - Citi Virtual Insight student
As a recap, our top tips for running Virtual Insight programmes are:
Make the effort!
Leave the virtual door open
Show your culture
Make it personal
Hope those quotes and five top tips are helpful, there’s plenty more of them on the RateMyPlacement latest Insight review page here. If you’d like to encourage your cohort to review their experiences, do get in touch and we can share email templates and details of the review incentive too! All these reviews contribute to The Top Undergraduate Employers tables, which are voted for entirely by those who know best - so it’s well worth getting involved as we share these with universities across the country!
Alongside the review improvements, we’re seeing Virtual Experience programmes becoming increasingly popular online and have also adapted our Jobs page to showcase these amazing opportunities for students.
Earlier this month, we launched a ‘Work Ready Virtual Experience’ in partnership with Inside Sherpa and Development Beyond Learning to help support students who are looking to develop their soft skills from home this Summer. The first module focuses on ‘Wellbeing and resilience during lockdown’.
These experiences are giving students an insight into roles, projects and organisations before students apply and as we see them growing in popularity this Summer, students will now be able to review these experiences on RateMyPlacement. As we run the National Undergraduate Employability Awards, we’re hoping to launch a new category for the 2021 event: ‘Best Virtual Experience Programme’. More on this when we open for nominations in August!
Congratulations to all employers who have been able to continue with some form of experience for students over Easter and for those considering your options for summer internships and year-long placement, do let us know if you’ve any questions or if we can support you and therefore the students in any way.
As a recap of the new developments we’ve made to RateMyPlacement:
Students can now search and enrol on Virtual Experience programmes
Students can now review Virtual Insight programmes, Virtual Internship programmes and Virtual Experience programmes, such as those hosted on Inside Sherpa
Employers will soon be able to host webinars, podcasts and brochures on their company profile
As a recap on why you should encourage students to review their Virtual Insights & internships on RateMyPlacement:
For students completing - They can receive £5 Amazon voucher for submitting a review of their experiences
For students looking -The reviews provide unique and valuable insights for students researching employers and opportunities for them
For employers - All reviews contribute to The Top Undergraduate Employers tables which are seen by thousands of students each year and distributed across all universities
Looking forward to reading all about them once the students leave their feedback!