With Bright Network recently relaunching their virtual internships for the Christmas period, I thought I should reflect on the ones I did over the summer. My summer was planned, with an internship at a prestigious firm in London. Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the firm moved their scheme online in a week when I had two exams, rendering me unable to do this. I found this pretty upsetting, considering the time and effort I had put into securing this.
Nevertheless, I decided to persevere and try to find something else to do instead. A friend recommended Bright Network to me, as he had signed up to do their law virtual internship. I looked through their website and saw that they had a broad range of virtual internships available, ranging from technology to financial services. I decided that as I had some spare time, I would try to do a few of these and picked four to do, all in career areas that I thought looked interesting and that I wanted to explore further. These included: Law, Investment Banking, Consultancy and Business, Operations and Marketing. I thought this would provide a useful insight into careers that I had not much prior experience of (such as investment banking) and be something intellectually stimulating to occupy myself with over the holidays.
The application process was simple and only consisted of some basic information (name, email, university, etc) and a short 100-word text on why you wanted to do the internship. From my understanding, they admitted pretty much everyone who showed some effort in their application. I was accepted for all four internship schemes, despite having had no previous experience in a couple of the sectors.
All the internships were spaced over roughly two and a half days, with the first day containing a number of talks by various employers, with representatives from many well-known companies, such as HSBC, M&S and BP. These sessions covered the sector and included skills workshops that highlighted the key skills you needed for a successful role in the sector.
The second day involved working on a work sample similar to the work of a real graduate. For example, in the Business, Operations and Marketing internship, I had to choose a business and marketing strategy for the expansion of Enterprise Rent-A-Car to another city. This involved researching the possible cities, evaluating them and making an informed choice, before examining the marketing strategies and how best to spend the budget on an effective marketing campaign. This had to be included in a presentation and submitted to Bright Network at the beginning of the third day.
I think that it is important to note here that I took the “on demand” versions of these internships, rather than the live ones. The key differences were that the live ones involved having your work peer-reviewed and being able to virtually network with company representatives on the second day. However, in the “on demand” version, we marked our own work against a model example and worked out how to improve from this through doing a reflection sheet. I found this useful, as it showed the sort of work that was expected from you as a graduate in that sector.
Whether it was as good as a real internship is debatable. On the one hand, it allowed me to cover more areas and hear from more firms and experts than a traditional internship. However you don’t gain the same sort of practical experience as a real internship, as you aren’t working alongside experienced colleagues, and you can’t build your network in the same way. It did give a good insight into the sort of work that you would do in each sector, helping to show the key skills required and exposing me to new areas of interest. I also found the work samples enjoyable, as they tended to be based around quite interesting sectors (for example, the consultancy one involved analysing the confectionery industry) and had clearly laid out instructions on what to do. I felt that the tasks themselves gave a real insight into the work with the work samples including several different elements to reflect the various aspects of the job role.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Bright Network virtual internships and think that they are a great opportunity to gain more knowledge and skills for job areas that you are interested in. I also thought that they were more comprehensive than other virtual internships I looked at over the summer; for example, I found that the Bright Network had a better range of employers represented.
Bright Network also hold a number of other events, such as the Bright Network Festival: this was 3 days long, but the days were split up over the week, so weren’t consecutive. This event was more focused on networking and speaking to professionals. This was a virtual event and was done through networking “booths”, rather than face to face. I asked questions of representatives from companies which included BP, Proctor & Gamble and Lloyds Banking Group, among others. I would highly recommend attending this event too, because it enables you to ask more precise questions about the companies you are contemplating applying to.