I am a proud member of VAnetworking, and through them I heard about a program called the VAintern program.
How it works is that VAs that are looking for a broader range of experience, or new VAs who are looking for any kind of experience at all, can sign up to be a part of this program. As an intern your time is volunteered in return for gaining valuable, real-world experience.
And, on the other end there are economically-minded business people and busy VAs who are willing to use inexperienced interns to get some work done, and in the process provide an opportunity for the interns to learn new skills while saving their business some cash.
A perfect match!
I signed up for this program before it was even off the ground last year, and I got my first assignment in January. After a slow start I have found that there are plenty of opportunities as long as you are willing to put in the time. Remember, this is VOLUNTEER time, and well worth it too.
Here’s how it has been working: the ever-amazing VAintern program manager, Patty Dost, sends out an email when there are jobs to be had. They are usually along the lines of “I’ve got this job, and this job, and this job – anyone interested?”. At this point it is up to we interns to reply, we then get the task details, and off we go! RIGHT HERE is exactly the point where I find myself a bit annoyed, and I’ll tell you why:
Whenever I saw a bunch of tasks come by I would pick at least one and ask for it. There were times when I was afraid that I didn’t know diddly-squat about any of the tasks, but then I made it a game to deliberately choose the one that sounded the most un-familiar. How else would I learn anything new, right? Well, a few times there would be another email that would come shortly after the first, and it turns out that there weren’t many interns replying back and asking for tasks!! Sheesh! Is this not what we signed up for? Yes, we all get busy sometimes, but the fact that you signed up to participate in this awesome program should at least prompt you to communicate what is going on in your world, and perhaps even decide to remove yourself from the program if your super-busy state is going to continue into perpetuity. There is a limit to the number of interns that can be in the program at one time so if you’re not going to utilize this opportunity, move along dearie!
I have the utmost respect and gratitude for our program manager, Patty Dost, who sometimes was stuck doing the tasks herself when she couldn’t find any interns to get on board. Thank you Patty! Because of the VAintern program and her help I have now been lucky enough to connect with another great VA, Mary-Lou Ashton, who is going to become my mentor.
Yes, my business is busy, and yes, sometimes I worry that I will work too much, but this is an opportunity that I just can’t pass up. Think of all the exciting things I can learn!!! There is always something new to learn, obviously, so I’m going to find a way to make it all work.
So, for any aspiring VAs out there I recommend that you take advantage of the VAintern program if you can, and remember that you only get out what you put into it.