Digital transformation enriching remote internship programs

In 2020, the vast majority of internship programs went remote in a short period of time and it was a challenging experience for many talent leaders who had never hosted interns remotely. In 2021, many internships will remain remote. However, organizations will have much more time to plan and prepare for their remote interns. Symba, the leading remote internship platform, was founded in 2017 and has designed over 5,000 remote internships around the world. Using these learnings, the Symba team has put together The Remote Internship Handbook to help your company prepare for a successful remote internship.

The Handbook is intended to support healthy communication amongst internship managers and their remote interns. We encourage you to leverage the guide as a living document. It is intended to help managers identify expected responsibilities, work schedule, digital tooling, and rewards to their intern(s), prior to the program start date. Establishing clarity from the beginning is essential to providing clear communication. With the right organization and tools, you can  maximize experiential learning. Kick-off a successful remote internship program in 2021 with our expert tips.

You can leverage the Remote Internship Handbook to do the following:

1. Create a strong support system

The Handbook asks you to identify all key internship stakeholders and participants. During an in-person internship, was as easy as an office tour the very first day of the internship program. However, in a remote setting, it is important to make important introductions in advance. This will allow your interns to know who they report to and who they can reach out to for support. Please note that a remote internship requires more initiative in communication. When it’s not easy to stop by someone’s desk or knock on their office door, you want to ensure your interns know to whom and how they can reach out for support.

2. Define internship goals and projects

By planning internship goals and projects in advance, you are setting your team and your remote  interns for success! Preparation is the key to a great remote internship, and managers should take responsibility in mapping this out in conjunction with their interns. We encourage managers to have virtual coffee chats with interns about their career ambitions to understand which projects they might like to participate in. Then, turn these projects into bite-sized tasks for them to do over the course of their internship with clear deadlines.

3. Establish the internship timeline

It is important to specify program start and end dates in advance. Touch base with your intern regarding their school schedule to decide when they will work and set the number of internship working hours to less than 40 hours a week. Clarifying the internship timeline allows your intern to track their working hours, build time-management skills, and practice setting boundaries to establish work/life balance when working from home. Be sure you assess their punctuality and ability to follow through with time commitments.

4. State communication expectations

In the remote working environment, you must create a virtual work-chat space. We strongly believe that email alone won’t cut it. Define which platforms your intern will communicate on and the nuances of how your company uses them. This is a great opportunity to create a communication system that embodies your company culture. If you’re looking for a solution, Symba offers a comprehensive internship management software that accommodates for short feedback loops.

We hope you and your team are able to leverage Symba’s Remote Internship Handbook to help establish expectations and practice clear communication from day one. By mapping this out before your internship program begins, you and your remote interns will be set for success!