Would you hire an intern you’ve never met?
As more companies move to a remote working environment, virtual internships are becoming increasingly popular. According to Flexjobs, the United States saw a jaw-dropping 159% increase in remote work between 2005-2017. Today, nearly 5 million people are working remotely.
But what about interns? The sight of a pajama-wearing college student typing furiously while sitting on a couch reminds us of an upperclassman cramming for midterms — not an entry-level employee putting in a full-time workday. But with new research showing that remote work increases productivity (rather than hindering it), the idea of developing a virtual internship program becomes more appealing.
Advocates of remote internships believe they allow companies to recruit top talent, promote a work-life balance, and cultivate a positive company culture. Below, you’ll learn whether a virtual internship program could be a good fit for your company.
Why Virtual Internships Help You Recruit Top Talent
They’re ambitious, forward-thinking, and grew up with technology (quite literally) in the palm of their hand. This group of wide-eyed, savvy recruits is Gen Z, and they make up the graduating classes forming your next big wave of entry-level employees.
This generation believes remote work will be the norm — not a perk — for their careers. In a study by Upwork, it’s expected that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. When asked why virtual work experience is desirable, trading in business attire for PJs wasn’t one of the top reasons. Below, you’ll see why virtual internships can benefit your company, as well as your potential hires.
Remote Work Helps Save Your Employees Money
In 2020, the total student loan debt in the United States topped $1.56 trillion. College students carry an average of $32,731 in debt — far more than baby boomers or millennials. This financial burden is coupled with the fact that Gen Z is entering the real world with an extraordinarily high cost of living. In cities like New York and San Francisco, the rent of a one-bedroom apartment could cost upwards of $2,000-$3,000 per month.
By constructing a virtual working environment where employees work wherever they want, you could ease the financial stress of entry-level and younger workers. But it’s not just good for employees — companies can benefit, too. Even part-time remote work cuts down on several budget factors for your team, including commuter costs, lunch takeout, or having to find pet or child care.
Virtual Internships Fuel an Entrepreneurial Mindset
One of the biggest fears among hiring managers and CEOs is that remote interns won’t get their work done. Remember, if you’re recruiting a top candidate with a solid GPA, they earned those grades without anyone looking over their shoulder.
College students are used to performing a constant balancing act, scrambling from classes to part-time jobs to extracurricular activities. And they bring this same hustle mindset to the workplace.
In a poll conducted by Universum, 55% of 50,000 Gen Z-ers stated they wanted to start their own company. Remote internship experience can help fuel this entrepreneurial state of mind and provide them with a first look at the day-to-day operations of a business owner.
Remote Internship Opportunities Help Boost Productivity
Could remote workers be more productive than in-office employees? It’s debatable. At home, the couch, daytime television, dirty laundry, and a sink full of dishes provide more than enough distractions. But in a more standard office environment, impromptu meetings, side conversations from a desk buddy, and regular coffee runs can make productivity that much more difficult.
In a two-year study conducted by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, it was found that work-from-home employees were more productive than on-site employees. Virtual employees stated it was easier for them to concentrate even though they worked fewer hours than when working in an office. The company also saw fewer sick days, shorter breaks, and less vacation time from the employees who worked from home.
If you offer a three-month summer internship program, you want to gain as much work as you can from your interns. Allowing your team of interns to work from home could prevent them from taking days off for vacation or physical illness, as they can perform tasks anywhere they can find a Wi-Fi connection.
Virtual Internships Create Work-Life Balance
Even when stacked up against baby boomers and millennials, Gen Z reportedly has the worst work-life balance.
As the generation that grew up with Google at their fingertips, Gen Z is already classifying themselves as people who work to the bone. According to Priceline’s Work-Life Balance Report, nearly a quarter of Gen Z-ers say they feel guilty when taking any time off work, more than any other generation before them. They also say they feel judged when using vacation days, and feel compelled to check email or voicemail while away.
As a business leader you want to create a company culture that negates these feelings of guilt that can trigger business burnout. Promoting a work-life balance can start from the top (with you), and trickle down to your most junior employees, such as your team of interns.
Creating a virtual internship program, even one that’s split between onsite and remote work, allows your junior staff to create a healthy work-life blend. Even one day away from the office can ease the stress of your team.
Virtual Internships Allow You to Recruit From a Larger Pool of Talent
By constructing a virtual internship program, you can recruit, interview, and hire interns from across the United States — not just those within driving distance.
Unfortunately, unless you offer an attractive employee referral bonus, finding qualified candidates multiple time zones away can prove especially challenging. In these cases, working with a recruiter like Scholars can help you find qualified candidates. Scholars connect business leaders to a database of top college students. You can browse through potential interns and junior hires, finding those who fit your needs.
When you find a candidate you like, Scholars automatically sends them a text, inviting them to interview with your company. It’s a streamlined process that can help your team on top.
Is a Virtual Internship Program Right for You?
As a business leader, the decision is yours.
A virtual internship program allows young talent to gain valuable experience, hone their communication skills, and learn to master time management. Data science shows that remote work boosts company productivity, allowing your team to work more efficiently.
In addition, remember the type of talent you’re attracting: Gen Z has entered the workforce, a generation fueled by ambition but plagued by debt and a lack of work-life balance. As a generation who grew up within the 2008 recession, these fiery individuals are hard-working and independent. And yet, studies show this generation struggles with taking time off work.
As a business leader, offering a work-from-home policy or virtual internship program can promote a better work-life balance among your employees. With Scholars, you can find the right remote workers to fit with your team. Simply enter your search criteria to find a qualified pool of candidates to interview. Contact us to get started today.