Virtual internships: the experience you need for the job market

Sushant Rijal

4 minute read

Sushant Rijal, a student at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Business and Economics (CBE), found his key to the Australian job market was through CBE’s Virtual Internship Experience (VIE).

The VIE runs over three weeks, giving students a total of 50 hours of experience in solving authentic business problems for an assigned organisation. Students work collaboratively in teams under the supervision of a professional mentor.

“It helped me develop high-level skillsets, by connecting with industry and solving real-world problems,” says Sushant.

Sushant enrolled in the VIE as a way to amplify the desirable skills he could showcase to Australian employers, and gain first-hand insight into the world of management consulting.

“If you are new to the Australian job market, they’ll ask you for your ‘Australian experience’. It was difficult for me to secure a decent work opportunity because of this specification,” he says.

“I also wanted to enhance my career in management consulting. The VIE was the perfect program to build that experience.”

Using his combined skills in entrepreneurship, teaching and consulting, Sushant took on a leadership role within his VIE team.

“I learned that leadership is not a position nor the power we are given. It’s how we complete a task collectively, purposefully, effectively, and enjoyably,” he says.

Before coming to ANU to begin his Advance Master of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation), Sushant completed a Master in Business Administration at Westcliff University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration and Graduate Diploma in Psychology Counselling, both from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

Sushant is a keen volunteer, having participated in the ANU+ program, ANU Thrive and the new-student mentoring program SET4ANU. Alongside his research projects, he works as a Residential Fellow (Senior Resident), Senior Resident, Tutor and Research Assistant at ANU.

In his interview, Sushant provides insight into the effectiveness of the VIE to develop employable skills, and how it’s a platform for personal and professional gains.

Q. Can you tell us about the project you worked on, and the tasks you performed in your role?

During my VIE, I worked with an organisation that helps immigrants with the process of settling into life in Australia, by providing them with a range of services including legal and counselling, finding accommodation, etc. I was the team leader, and my tasks were to coordinate with the client, facilitate discussion in the team, plan group tasks and assign them, as well as follow up outstanding tasks. I was also responsible for liaising with our mentor for updates and feedback.

Q. What strategies did you use to work collaboratively with others, given you weren’t interacting face to face?

Virtual teams can be tricky, so it’s important to understand and align the group’s expectations, interests, and availability, so that the professional tone is set right from the beginning. We successfully leveraged technology through using share drives and online group chats to make collaborating virtually both easy and effective. Most importantly, I worked to create leadership opportunities inside the team, so that people were enthusiastic and accountable of their learning, and in turn, helped their team mates strive for the best.

Q. What was a key lesson that you learned from conducting your internship virtually?

It’s important to give shared ownership and credit so that the projects get completed successfully. As a leader, you can either complete the task on your own or complete it as part of a team. If you choose the latter and allow yourself to reflect, you can develop your leadership skills. Empathy and communication can help you through the process.

Q. What preparation should participants do for the internship? What do you recommend to other participants?

Learning is not possible until you allow yourself to be in a learning mindset. I’d encourage you to join the VIE with that mindset. This could be allowing yourself to experiment with new things, taking charge of your learning and reflecting on it, and plan ahead. Don’t treat it as completing one consulting job, instead, treat it as the development of your skills while completing that consulting job.

Q. Why would you recommend this experience to other students?

The world is changing day by day and it’s not enough to have only job-related skills. We need to develop interpersonal skills and an entrepreneurial mindset. The interpersonal skills are required to become culturally conscious, collaborative and service oriented. The entrepreneurial mindset is needed in problem solving and innovating. The VIE gives an opportunity to practice, reflect and plan on these global skills and mindsets. For this reason, I’d recommend students to challenge themselves by applying for this opportunity.


Click here for more details on how you can get involved in the Virtual Internship Experience in 2023.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.