Virtual (remote, online, or e-) internships have recently increased in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic. This Innovation Fund project explores this growing but under- researched area through student intern and employer experience in two contrasting institutional contexts: the UK and Italy.

In Italy, placements and internships are typically part of a more institutionalised transition from education to employment and are usually part of the educational curriculum, but in the UK they are less institutionalised and more varied.

The project aims to map the key features of the virtual internship landscape and to compare digital to in-person internships on accessibility, skill development and employability for the intern, and on recruitment process and internship design/delivery for the employer.

Focusing on the business services sector, the findings will inform emerging research on the process and effectiveness of virtual internships and provide best practice guidance for students, employers and other stakeholders in developing successful virtual internships.

Research objectives

  1. To map key features of virtual internships in the UK and Italy; e.g. virtual internship providers/users, types of internships, who accesses them.
  2. To explore how, if at all, virtual internships differ from in-person internships for interns, especially in terms of skills and knowledge development, organisational knowledge, and employability outcomes.
  3. To explore how, if at all, virtual internships differ from in-person internships for employers, especially in terms of recruitment processes/decisions, developing candidate relationships and the design/delivery of internships.
  4. To explore whether virtual internships are more accessible than in-person internships to students from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds.


  • Stakeholder (include HE careers service / placement office staff; other HE staff; industry bodies; internship broker organisations; etc.) interviews
  • Desk research, including secondary data analysis
  • Interviews with employers and student interns in both countries


Principal Investigator: Dr Daria Luchinskaya (University of Strathclyde)

Co-Investigators: Dr Charikleia Tzanakou (Oxford Brookes University), Dr Luca Cattani (University of Bologna), Dr Giulio Pedrini (Kore University of Enna), Professor Vincenzo Fasone (University of Enna), Dr Dorel Manitiu (AlmaLaurea Interuniversity Consortium)

Digit member: Dr Wil Hunt (University of Sussex Business School)

Advisor: Professor Dora Scholarios (University of Strathclyde)

Further reading

Project’s webpage: