Thousands of internship programs are shifting from in-person to remote experiences this summer due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We teamed up with leaders in the remote work and internship space to present a webinar on the best practices for building and scaling an engaging and effective remote internship program.
With internship programs beginning in just a few weeks, talent leaders are working hard to build contingency plans and craft meaningful remote internship programs. For many companies, this will be their first experience designing and executing a remote internship program. In conversations with university recruiters, we have heard their worries and challenges about hosting remote internship programs.
In our webinar, we invited experts Darren Buckner (CEO and Founder at WorkFrom) and Nora Dempsey (Senior Advisor for Innovation at the U.S. Department of State) to dive deep into the five main pillars essential for a successful remote internship program, including:
1. Set Expectations
A remote internship is a different experience than an in-person internship. Businesses must define what that means for each stakeholder, including intern managers, mentors, and company leaders. Designing a successful remote program needs clear leadership and definition. To set clear expectations:
- Make the announcement you are going remote
- Craft a remote internship code of conduct and norms
- Design what your remote internship will look like (for example, how many hours a week will your intern work? Who is in charge of managing the intern at the company?)
2. Establish a Clear Structure
A clear structure is the most important factor for a great internship experience. In addition, you bring professionalism and confidence to your organization's brand. Key ways to establish a clear structure include:
- Create a calendar that logs all events of the summer internship
- Establish a cadence of check-ins and feedback loops
- Incorporate weekly team meetings that interns can participate in
3. Create a Support System
It is important to make your interns feel comfortable and welcome, especially in a remote office environment. For many of your interns, this will be their first experience working in a professional setting. Make sure they feel at ease coming to you for questions and support. Recommendations to do this include:
- Be responsive to your interns’ emails and messages
- Ask your interns if they feel supported
- Be kind in your feedback and communication
4. Make it Fun and Social
This is the time to get creative with remote interns! Ask your interns for fun ideas and activities they would like to participate in. You could try:
5. The “ And 1”
At Symba, we believe that internships are so much more than just work. It’s important to invest in your interns’ professional development. In our “And 1” concept, we encourage interns to work on a passion project or initiative outside of their work deliverables, such as:
- Volunteering for a nonprofit organization
- Building their own app from scratch
- Learning a new language or instrument
A special thank you to our speakers, Nora Dempsey and Darren Buckner, for their valuable time and insights on designing meaningful experiences for remote interns this summer.
For a more in-depth dive on how to take your internship program remote, view the full webinar here: https://engage.symba.io/take-your-internship-remote-training.