10 Creative Ways to Engage Your Remote Interns

Mitra Lebuhn
By Mitra LeBuhn
Mitra LeBuhn

Mitra LeBuhn

Head of Global Partnerships

Interns are your company’s ambassadors and future leaders. An internship is a chance to spotlight your organization and thoughtfully market your company culture and values. Consider that interns are also interviewing companies during their internship experience. Whether or not your intern comes on as a full-time employee, it is critical that you ensure your interns have a great internship experience at your company. Internships should not be all about work and deliverables. 
Remote internships are an opportunity for originality. To help you build an engaging remote internship experience, we have compiled our favorite ways to engage interns. Check out Symba’s top 10 list of virtual team-building activities.

1. Schedule virtual tea or coffee chats.

Encourage virtual chats amongst interns and different leaders at your organization. Both one-on-one and small groups are great. Brew a cup at the same time and hop on a call. Or send your intern a small stipend and sync up while you walk to your local coffee spots.

2. Intro with icebreakers.

With no office chit-chat in a remote internship, it is essential to designate time for your interns to get to know each other. Check out 57 icebreakers from SnackNation to energize your introductions.

3. Theme your Zoom calls.

Make Zoom calls more compelling by assigning a background theme prior to each team meeting. Upload photos from your favorite movie scenes, take your team to the beach, show off your favorite place, or have an office retreat in the mountains. Images allow your team to silently express their personalities. If you are new to Zoom, here’s how you change your video background. Click here for a few more engagement ideas specific to the Zoom platform.

4. Host a trivia or game night. 

There are a number of trivia and game applications that are as simple to access as creating an account. If you’re into it (we are) you can go as far as organizing a full-on virtual murder mystery party. Whatever event you choose to host, send out some swag to build hype. Set the tone and share a playlist so you can listen to the same music. Or make music the event itself and build a collaborative playlist to get to know each other’s music taste (we did). Check out the Symba team “Job Hunting Jams” Spotify playlist here.

Use this living document to help establish expectations and practice clear communication from day one. By mapping this out before your internship program begins, you and your interns will be set for success!

5. Get together for Lunch ‘n Learns.

Send your interns a stipend to order a delivery from their favorite restaurant then video call at the same time. Lunch ‘n Learns are an opportunity to share personal stories on a chosen topic and discuss a subject of common interest that expands beyond intern responsibilities. To keep it purely professional, have participants research and present on a theme of the week. Psst, use a poll to decide on topics.

6. Inspire healthy competition.

Sync up for focus! Join forces in a bug jam, hackathon, or power hour of problem-solving and brainstorming with your department.

7. Support physical, mental, & emotional wellness.

For those looking for a little extra motivation and accountability regarding fitness and mental health habits – team up! Encourage each other’s wellness goals and get together for at-home workouts or yoga sessions, chat on the phone while walking or running, or share a meditation. MoveSpring has some health and fitness challenges to get your people energized.

8. Get crafty.

Organize a craft night. Send your interns a DIY arts box, like The Crafter’s Box. Build your projects together and connect over the creative experience.

9. Host an intern talent show.

A talent show is a fun way to spotlight your team’s secret superpowers. Unveil the musicians, stand-up comedians, artists, athletes, dancers, and other talented performers that you have in your program. After settling on a date and time to video call, send out a Google Doc or create a Slack channel for performer sign-ups, arrange an order of acts, and you’re ready for the Zoom stage.

10. Ask your interns! Use polls.

Who better to learn from than the interns themselves? Use polls to directly ask your interns what they find engaging. This is an easy way to get a pulse on what your interns actually enjoy. You can do this by sending out Doodle polls or integrating a feature like Polly to your Slack channel. Survey Monkey is another option and also works well with longer surveys. Try it out by offering some activities off this list and plan their top-voted event.

You can use these top 10 engagement ideas to bring your remote internship program to life and create a memorable experience for both your interns and your organization at large. Access the many benefits of remote internships by investing time and thoughtful planning when crafting your program.

Remember, your interns are excited and eager about the opportunity to intern at your company. They will let you know what would make work fun if you give your interns the tools to take initiative. But first, a virtual coffee.

For more information on best practices to engage remote interns and get a live demo of the Symba Intern Management Platform, you can sign up here.

By Mitra LeBuhn

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