Virtual experiences, enabled

How a summer of virtual internships became a lasting resource for industry peers

The pandemic was the catalyst for us to reimagine our summer internship programme, enabling us to include a wider pool of candidates and move the needle on virtual internships with our research partnership with DCU.

In early 2020, we were gearing up for our usual 12-week Summer internship calendar, featuring jam-packed training schedules, social events and client projects. But when the pandemic hit in March and Deloitte employees transitioned to working from home, we had to rapidly pivot our approach to our impending internship programmes.

Pioneering our first virtual programme

We quickly worked to form our first fully virtual student offering: Launch your Career. This was a month-long, voluntary virtual programme designed for students to get the best insight into Deloitte, gain employability skills, and provide an understanding of our business, its people and culture, without setting foot in an office environment.

The programme was formatted so that it was not a full-time undertaking, but instead could fit in around students’ schedule and commitments.

Being virtual allowed us to open up participation to a much wider pool of candidates, including the DCU Access Programme. In total, we hosted a total of 100 students with resoundingly positive feedback.

The highlight of the program was how well co-ordinated and supported it was for interns, delivering the best possible experience in unusual circumstances like this.
2020 intern survey feedback

The Audit internship: a ‘litmus test’ for virtual onboarding

In addition to our Launch your Career programme, we proceeded with our planned audit internship programme, transferring to a fully virtual environment for our 45 Audit interns, who were fully embedded alongside our existing staff for eight weeks.

We knew how important it was to provide an inclusive, connected experience whilst not being in the office. We did this through a total of 15 intern-specific events, including Zoom games and quizzes, a social impact hackathon, mock proposals, Business Chemistry sessions and virtual coffees. We also held virtual ‘audit rooms’ so that interns could easily and quickly ask questions and feel connected to the team.

Research partnership with DCU

Our reimagined approach to the internship experience led us to partner with the DCU Access Programme, developing a practical toolkit to support organisations in the design and delivery of virtual and hybrid internships. We found that:

  • Students developed skills which are in greater demand in a virtual workplace. The virtual format allowed participants to hone skills and improve digital literacy and professionalism, telecommunication, and time management skills.
  • It highlighted increased access to programmes from diverse cohorts.  A number of companies reported an increased diversity in applicants - the virtual format levelled the playing field for applicants who lived farther from offices.
  • Interns had greater access to senior leaders. Traditionally, only those interns at head office locations had the opportunity to engage with the most senior organisation leaders. In travelling less, senior leaders could commit to sessions such as inductions, virtual coffees and networking sessions.

We’ve since used the Launch your Career programme structure to host the Deloitte Difference Insight webinar series in March 2021 for first- and second- year students, and the Audit internship gave us great insight into the virtual onboarding of our newest cohort of Associates and how we could make them feel as welcome as possible. Virtual student programmes are definitely here to stay, and we’re glad we had the opportunity to take a crash-course in planning.

If you’d like to read the full DCU report, visit

Mike Hartwell

Audit programme


Sinead Gogan


Amanda Dilworth

Audit programme