1 Board of European Students of Technology (SERBIA)
2 Board of European Students of Technology (SPAIN)
3 Board of European Students of Technologies (NORWAY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 6939-6945
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
A successful transition from university to labor market is one of the biggest concerns of the students in Europe, as they face increasing difficulties in finding employment. Internships help young people to make first steps in their career in a difficult economic environment. According to the research of, 36% more companies offered internships in 2012 than in 2011 and 53% companies plan to have more interns in 2013 than in 2012.

Moreover, usage of e-technologies for work and number of jobs from distance are increasing every year mainly because of their flexibility and low costs. They lead to the expansion of the virtual internships (VIs). The aforementioned research shows that 33% of employers in USA organise VIs and 71% of students would consider a VIs. Unfortunately, VIs are almost unknown in Europe and there are very few examples of using e-technologies to strengthen cooperation between universities, companies and students.

Board of European Students of Technology (BEST) is a constantly growing non-profit and non-political organisation that strives to develop students. It involves 96 technical universities reaching 1 300 000 students throughout its activities. One of the focus areas is Educational Involvement through which BEST strives to bring the development of European Engineering Education (EEE) closer to the students as well as to bring their opinion into the spotlight in order to meet theirs, academics’ and industry’s needs.

In order to provide student’s input on the topic of VIs, BEST organised a student symposium in cooperation with PROVIP (Promoting Virtual mobility in Placements) and the local university. PROVIP is a thematic network which aim is to build and promote a platform for structural cooperation between universities and enterprises to organize VIs across Europe. During this symposium 16 European students discussed current internship system, advantages and disadvantages of VIs and idea of a perfect VIs’ model and platform.

The research resulted in a set of recommendations and students’ preferences towards the implementation of the VIs in Europe. Outcomes say that VIs should last from 6 to 12 months with workload and deadlines which will suit students' obligations. Interns should have an opportunity to choose a task which will preferable be part of bigger project, so that the intern gets a chance to contribute to the company’s development. Additionally, structure of tasks description was defined.

Participants suggested regular reports for successful communication among the stakeholders and gave feedback to a VI platform’s design and content. Moreover, they defined roles and requirements for each stakeholder.

University should be involved throughout the whole life-time of the internship with main tasks to promote VIs to students, follow-up on milestones and ensure success of the project. The promotion of the platform should be done by all stakeholders using modern and traditional media, but also by personal contacts.

In the time of globalisation and economical crisis companies are trying to establish an international environment and lower costs by using technological innovations. Students are looking for more internship opportunities in order to enrich their experience and CVs. Consequently, VI impose as the future of practical development of students. This research resulted with proposal for the “perfect” VI model and platform for Europe considering all the differences in approaches in EEE.
Virtual internship, platform, European, BEST, PROVIP, collaboration.