Virtual internship is not the future, it is here


SINCE the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO), students gearing up for internship placements and currently undergoing the programme are left in limbo, fearing their path towards graduation and employment might come to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses are facing challenges in keeping their wheels in motion since the MCO, due to less revenue churn and general dubiety in the global financial environment, resulting in companies ceasing the hiring and employing of any interns until 2021.

This has sparked worries among students as some of the companies have begun postponing, terminating and even cancelling their internship programme.

For some, internship experience is very crucial as it provides them with first-hand exposure of working in the real world and a chance to land a coveted position in a company.

Despite many internships programme might face revocation amid the pandemic, few media agencies and companies have ploughed ahead, offering something different they have never tried before – virtual internships.

Virtual internship

Professor at Faculty of Technology and Informatics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Prof. Ts. Dr Salwani Mohd Daud Razak said virtual internships will provide more opportunities to students to obtain work experience with global employers despite their location and limitations on their mobility and other obligations.

“Since geographical location is no longer an issue, students will have greater opportunities to select the companies of choice.

“However, virtual interns require a greater willingness to work independently, need to be proactive about getting support and be able to set their own schedule in order to organise personal and professional tasks,” she told Bernama today.

Salwani added that startups could also benefit from the situation as it will assist them in recruiting suitably skilled interns.

“In times of economic and employment uncertainty, this could provide mutually beneficial opportunities for both companies and interns,” she said.


Media agency such as the Malaysian Nasional News Agency (BERNAMA)’s Economic Services (BES) has decided to proceed with their internship programme by shifting to the virtual world.

A journalism intern myself, it was a relieve when BES did not cancel the programme as the decision has enabled me to experience the flexibility of working remotely and gain as much experience as possible.

Similarly, another journalism intern at a local online publication, Lashonde Lavelle Christian said, virtual internship worked pretty well for her as the company has been very accommodating by providing a laptop and paid her with a full allowance.

“I used to write three articles a day when I went into the office and now that I’m working from home, I still do the same. Everything was pretty much similar for me,” she told Bernama today.

She also added that virtual internship has allowed her to leverage on virtual meeting and collaboration tools that could help with her productivity.

“My job requires me to be online on the app during working hours and with the help of features like Google Meet and Slack, I’m able to join my adopted team remotely.”


However, some of the interns are not so lucky as their virtual internship were cancelled entirely due to the size and nature of the programme which makes it impossible to be conducted virtually.

Aircraft engineering intern at an aviation manufacturing company, Meor Rifaat Meor Rafeq said virtual internship doesn’t work for him as he cannot experience the full course of the internship as well as gaining behind-the-scene knowledge from the industry professionals.

“The company did try to proceed with the internship programme virtually. Unfortunately, the task cannot be done effectively and efficiently due to constraints in time and resources,” he said.

With the cancellation of the programme, Meor is deeply concerned about his path towards graduation as well as his lack of experience in the aviation industry.

“It’s a waiting game for us and currently, we’re waiting for our internship coordinator to sort things out. Either it’s going to be an extra assessment in our campus or perhaps skip to graduation,” he added.

Currently, among the sectors that had implemented virtual internships are marketing-related, IT-related like web design, programming and graphic design, journalism or related writing activities and other areas that involved a variety of multimedia applications.