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Four Steps To Onboard Your Remote Interns

Written by Ahva Sadeghi on July 3, 2020
3 min read

Four Steps To Onboard Your Remote Interns 

By Team Symba

A meaningful internship experience begins with a great onboarding process. It is your interns’ first touchpoint with your team and will leave them with a lasting impression. It’ll also help bolster your intern’s productivity and retention in the long haul. Remote internships, in particular, require a clearly structured onboarding process and a few added components related to remote work

With internship programs ranging from a few weeks to a few months, it is essential that you design a condensed yet effective onboarding process for your remote interns. We have outlined Symba’s four steps to help you onboard your remote interns.

Step 1. Set clear expectations for your remote internship program.

Before your internship program begins, be sure to outline the internship dates, projects, and deliverables. We encourage you to do this before you even begin the hiring process to ensure that you are ready to bring on an intern. This is the foundation to build your internship program and will guide you through the onboarding process. 

In setting these expectations, we encourage you to:  

  1. Talk through your company’s remote work norms
  2. Discuss and outline duties and responsibilities.
  3. Map out project deliverables and deadlines.
  4. Identify learning objectives from the program. 
  5. Ask your intern what their interests are and the skills they hope to gain from this experience.

Check out our Remote Internship Handbook as a great starting point to help you establish expectations and clear communication practices for your remote interns.

Step 2. Ensure your remote interns have all the necessary resources and equipment. 

Let’s talk tools. Your intern will need a laptop, desktop computer, or at least a tablet. You have eliminated the cost of office space by choosing to go remote. Now, what are all of the tools necessary for your intern to complete their work? What accessories will support their home office set-up? You can write out all the tools you use on a daily basis to get work done and check-in with your intern to make sure they have access to them. If not, we encourage you to mail these supplies or send a stipend for students to purchase these office supplies. Here is a checklist for onboarding remote employees that may be useful to review when bringing on remote interns.

Now, the software. Map out the various platforms and tools you use to work, i.e. Symba’s Internship Management Platform, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, etc. These channels make up your interns’ virtual office. Show them the channels and guide them through setting up these platforms and building their profiles so they are prepared to communicate frequently and effectively, beginning day one.

Step 3. Make your interns feel welcome.

Invite your interns to contribute their energy to your community’s virtual space. Set up “get to know yous” with the relevant team members through virtual coffee chats. Take them on a remote office video tour. If you have multiple interns, foster a collaborative and supportive environment through intern buddies or teams. Match interns and current employees up as buddies for a mentorship dynamic. Your company culture is founded in the community you create, and it is important that you ensure your remote interns feel like they are a part of that. By making them feel welcome as a remote intern, your interns are more likely to approach and feel supported in their role. 

Step 4. Make your introduction fun and exciting!

Just like any first impression, your welcome message sets the tone for the rest of your program. Take the opportunity to get creative in how you express your company culture. Make the extra effort and string together a video welcome message, have a big team welcome zoom meeting, or send your intern a digital gift card for a welcome coffee. Here is a great list of other ways you can make your onboarding creative and memorable. 

Your onboarding procedure will help your remote interns understand the social and performance expectations of their role, so they can quickly become productive members of your team. By following these four steps, you can craft an effective, supportive and memorable onboarding experience for your remote interns. Your remote interns will feel excited and fully equipped to jump into working with your team!

For more information on how to craft an entire remote internship program, please check out our post on How to Take Your Internship Program Remote.

By Team Symba
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Ahva Sadeghi

Ahva is the CEO and Co-Founder of Symba. She is a passionate social entrepreneur, and was recently named Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Global Entrepreneur Scholar by the US Department of State. Ahva completed her graduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science where she served as President of the Human Rights Students Committee and received the John Lewis Fellow with Humanity in Action.

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