Hiring a Virtual Intern: How to Succeed
June 23, 2020 @ 1:17 pm by ACT
In my first month as a marketing, social media and design intern for Advantage Coaching & Training, Inc., I’ve learned from some of the best executive coaches in the industry while also growing my portfolio and providing the business with updated marketing materials. I have benefitted greatly from ACT’s intentional planning and communication. In my experience, I believe that many businesses could benefit from hiring virtual interns.
Organizations everywhere offer short-term internships for university students and recent graduates, providing students with valuable skills to prepare them for their future careers. These programs not only support the student, but they can benefit the organization as well. A business can gain a strategic edge through working with an adept university student who is up to date on the most current trends and technologies of the field.
Today, more and more internships and jobs are moving online, which can save money and time, but there are obstacles to overcome.
If you or your business has considered hiring remote interns, consider these tips to achieve success:
Set a plan beforehand, including goals and objectives for your interns
Sit down for a planning session before your initial meeting with the interns and devise a plan for how you will manage them and their work. Consider the major projects you want them to tackle and how you will source additional work as they finish what you have assigned.
If you have a team, consider gathering as a group to discuss how the interns can benefit each member and the business. Make important decisions about how you want things to function:
- How will they communicate with you? (email, text, call, Zoom, etc.)
- How will you keep track of their projects, progress and hours?
- What do you expect from them and what can they expect from you?
- How much freedom do you want to give them in the work they do and how they do it?
Check in with them often and with purpose
When interns work remotely, they can set their own schedules and complete tasks when and how they please. Since they are not in your office, it can be difficult to collaborate when problems or questions arise. Working remotely provides great freedom, so be sure to follow up with them regularly to ensure that they feel comfortable with completing the work you’ve assigned.
They will appreciate your attention and gain confidence when they realize that you are invested in their progress and work.
Lean into your interns’ passions, interests and skills
Regardless of what you assign, interns will seek to earn approval and impress you. They will do almost anything asked of them, but instead of focusing only on your business goals, seek out the specific skills and interests of each hired intern. In the end, this will most likely provide your business with the best results and ensure that they have the best possible experience working with you.
Grant them creative freedom but provide honest feedback on their work
Interns typically set out to impress their employer and earn their approval. Within the first few projects, it will be obvious what areas they excel in and in which they do not. Be sure to affirm them and give them positive feedback, but also provide constructive criticism and suggestions in the areas where growth is needed. Push them out of their comfort zone and never delay in telling them if something is not completed properly.
Honest communication will save you from having to go back and fix work later. It will also provide your interns with fulfillment when they see that you genuinely care about the quality of their work.
Take on the role of a teacher for your interns and actively educate them on trends in the field
You are the professional, and your interns are the students. So, take the opportunity to teach them relevant information about the industry to better equip them for their future job hunt and career. In the end, your intern will deeply appreciate the way you shared your expertise and poured into them.
While getting started with virtual interns can seem like a daunting task, I would encourage you to take the leap and see how young college students can strengthen your business plan while providing you with additional help in a busy season.
written for advantagecoaching.com by Lauren Rink