In this time of COVID, more companies are switching to virtual internships, and with a few adjustments and tools, you can provide a productive and beneficial experience for your organization and the intern.
Also, if you’ve been working at your organization for a long time, it may be difficult to remember what it’s like to join a new work group. With a proper welcome, onboarding procedures, clear communication and the tools to do the job, your interns will feel welcome, happy and productive.
Make sure they have the necessary equipment and resources to get the job done:
Whether it’s providing a company laptop with appropriate software, or making sure they have a home office set-up, do a check-in before their start date to make sure they have what they need.1
Give them a virtual welcome:
It’s your responsibility to make sure your remote intern is welcomed. Send an email to your staff introducing the intern, and set up a video conference to let everyone meet each other and begin structuring the intern’s work.2
Make sure you create an onboarding process with specific tasks and project details, as well as a complete company handbook. Give them an overview of company culture, dress codes, and so on, so they know what to expect and how to act.3
Conduct your own intern orientation:
While the company likely provides a general orientation, set aside time for you and your department to meet with the intern, explain employee roles and what your department handles.4
Put the project task list in writing:
Make sure you clearly spell out, in writing, what the intern’s project and responsibilities will be. Discussing tasks and projects over video call can provide more context, as well. Don’t leave them guessing as to what’s expected of them or when tasks are to be completed.
Set clear expectations for your remote internship program:
Make sure to outline the internship dates and projects, and what is expected in the role. Don’t forget to ask your intern what their skills and interests are, as well as what they hope to get from their experience with your company.5
Give your intern a “buddy” member of your staff:
Show the intern what your company culture and department dynamic is like, and let the intern know they have someone to approach with questions. This will help them feel more like part of the “family”.
Provide time for them to meet fellow interns:
Introduce interns from different departments to each other. Getting to know their fellow interns, and giving them more information on the company overall, creates a friendlier work environment and encourages more creativity and problem solving.6
Have regular check-ins with their supervisor and other leaders, and have them create an end-of-summer presentation:
Not only will these pre-determined check-ins give your intern set milestones to work towards, but they will also allow interns to get to know team members and leadership from afar.7
Provide networking opportunities:
Since remote work doesn’t allow interns the usual networking as a typical internship would, be sure to introduce your interns to other department heads or leaders at your company through video conferences.8
If you have been clear in your communications with the intern, you should be able to trust them. Give them the chance to do something right or even to fail and have to do it again. Treat your intern like an employee and give them ownership of their work.9
When taking on the responsibility of working with interns, whether in the office or virtually, you need to find what works best for you and your team. By following these steps, you can create an effective, supportive and memorable experience for your remote interns, as well as benefits for your business.
1, 5. Symba
2. 9. Readygrad
3, 7. HBS
4, 6, 8. Ten Thousand Coffees