Navigating Internships in the World of Remote Work

by | Sep 14, 2020 | Internships

As the pandemic has altered the work world as we know it, internship programs have fundamentally changed as well. Without face-to-face recruiting, interviews, or onboarding experiences for interns, HR professionals have been forced to master the craft of virtual hiring. Landing an internship in the current work environment has its set of unique challenges, but it’s still completely feasible. 

It’s still possible for young people to find a paid internship position that helps them thrive and succeed. After all, companies depend upon building an early talent pipeline through internship programs. So, what does it take for aspiring employees to land an internship these days, and how can HR professionals support them? Interns are a vital part of any company. Not to mention, investing in interns and entry-level employees is key to a company’s future success. How can companies ensure they find the right intern talent? How can talented internship candidates find those opportunities? Some of the tell-tale signs of a great company that treats interns well are the following:

1) A Strong Company Brand

If they’re hiring remotely, companies should know their online presence allows potential interns to develop a first impression of their organization. If they want to attract real talent interns, they’ll want internship candidates to admire and have confidence in the company. Make sure the company’s mission and values, work culture, and internship expectations and responsibility are clear. The more information available to potential hires, the more they’ll be able to determine if they think their strengths align with your needs.

2) A Digitally Savvy Organization

With 60 percent of recent hires connected with their current employers online, it’s definitely possible for you to recruit valuable interns remotely. While it’s difficult to engage in in-person recruiting and networking for internships at this time, you still have many online resources to support your recruitment efforts. Interns need to feel reassured that their experience will be worthwhile even in a digital format. Also, the company needs to ensure they’re gaining the most value from hiring an intern to only work virtually. It’s mutually beneficial for there to be organized, clearly communicated digital systems and protocols in place.

3) A Community-Driven Culture

While working from home, it can be tough to build a sense of community for coworkers.  Nevertheless, it’s important to continue making efforts to allow employees to connect and engage virtually. Potential interns will (and should) keep company culture in mind when looking for opportunities—it says a lot about an organization’s mindset. Small gestures like virtual coffee breaks or lunches give people the chance to chat during work and allows new interns to feel at home. 

4) Leaders that Encourage Feedback

Focusing on open communication among members of an organization is great for building trust as well as making interns feel like valued team members. If an organization doesn’t initiate surveys and check-ins and doesn’t strongly consider feedback, internships won’t bring as much value. It’s key to encourage transparency and allow both praise and concerns to be voiced. 

Attracting and retaining smart interns who are enthusiastic and hard-working is not a simple task—especially during a global pandemic. The visual guide below includes some important reminders for aspiring interns. Seeking a paid internship position is still possible, but it’s important to take it seriously and do everything in your power to maximize your chances of landing the gig.