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Students have transformative internship experiences.

During the last two years, the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the Faculty of Business and Law's (FBL), in collaboration with Careers and Employability Service (CES), have been giving students the opportunity to join the Virtual Internship Project.

What is a Virtual Internship Project?

The project provides underrepresented students with opportunities for flexible and paid work experience. It aims to enrich students personal and career development to decrease the gaps for graduate outcomes.

Student interns will be offered valuable supervised placements that incorporate teaching, research, or scholarship in any area. Providing real life responsibilities will enable students to acquire employability skills needed for future careers. All placements are arranged through an agency and receive fair pay.

Why was the initiative started?

The Access, Participation and Success (APS) strategy Virtual Internship scheme focuses on students with protected characteristics, ensuring that underrepresented groups have equal access to valuable work experience. We strive to bridge the gaps in graduate outcomes and promote inclusivity within our faculties.

The Virtual Internship Project has proved to be flexible and has the ability to be tailored over four months. An advantage of this project is that students can gain work experience at the same time as maintaining academic commitments.

What support do students receive?

The OU Careers and Employability Service's Placements team provides support, guidance and advice to all students and employers during the process.

What do students say about the role?

Norain Imtiaz, a student intern within the STEM Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) team, shared her experience:

"I joined this internship programme with the hope to shed some light on the challenges faced by the students especially from ethnic minority backgrounds. I feel that there is not enough positive representation of people from underrepresented groups which could lead to having less confidence in oneself. I believe this internship provides an opportunity to bring about some positive change that would help future decisions to be more inclusive of all students' voices. My experience with the internship has truly been uplifting. Being part of a team has helped me improve my communication skills. All the experiences that I have gained played a vital role in my job applications and interviews. As a result, I was able to secure a position on a teacher training programme that I wanted. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone thinking of applying."

Catriona Bergman, another intern in the same team, shared her inspiring journey:

"The work I was doing for the Internship – that is where I see myself in 10 years. Despite the fact I have my Level 3 modules to go, I'm now looking eagerly at Masters courses, and even a few Studentships (PhDs)… And all this further study revolves around the opportunity to effect real change. For the first time since I left Secondary School, I had an idea about what I want to do with my future. I have some real direction, and – most importantly – I know what I need to do to achieve that goal."

The OU has secured funding for further STEM internships which ensures this transformative project can prosper and transform more students lives. Opportunities will be advertised on the OU’s Opportunity Hub.