For the supervisors of the world, you’ll know that transitioning a company from in-person to remote work is no small task. This transition involves a complete change of scenery for you and each of your employees and may even result in a permanent move to remote work in the end. How you can best support yourself and your full-time employees during this transitional period will involve a lot of trial and error.
While you continue to learn about supporting your team, you may also be in the process of learning how to support another valuable contributor to your company – your intern(s). As a part-time or even full-time worker, interns can require a completely different level of support and guidance as opposed to long-time employees of your company.
Not only are interns typically younger, but their approach to their position can be unique. Some interns are really involved in their company, engaged, and excited each and every day for work. Others may only see their time with your team as a stepping stone to gain experience, and may already have their heart set on another company. Regardless, remote working can greatly alter these approaches if the intern’s experience with your company does not prove to be a positive one.
So, how can you work to better support your remote interns? What steps can you take to make them feel valued, supported, and eager to perform their best? Whether your main intentions for your interns are to develop their skills, provide mentorship, train them in the hopes of bringing them on full-time, or all of the above, consider some of our below tips for how to best support your remote interns!
Check-in as often as possible
When it comes to working with interns, the simple thing to remember is that your time goes a very long way. The point of an internship is to gain experience, skills, and better understand the work world. They are also to gain connections and learn from experts in the field that the intern plans to pursue – this last point is vital. This mentorship aspect of an internship is arguably the most crucial point to an intern’s development and experience with your company.
If you were lucky enough to have a mentor at any point in your professional life, you’ll know how valuable those meetings and “checks-ins” proved to be. Sometimes, just having a few minutes to connect with you and see how everything is going can greatly impact an intern’s experience. This is especially noted in remote working, which can be void of much of the face-to-face human interaction found in in-person work.
While you may have an incredibly packed schedule, do your absolute best to make time for your intern as much as possible. Think about it as if you were all back working in the office together. You would very likely say “hello” to your intern each day when they come into the office. You may have quick check-in sessions with them periodically throughout the week, or plan a more detailed “one-on-one” meeting two times a week to catch up on progress and answer questions.
The bottom line is that none of this should change because of remote work! Make an effort to meet with your intern, provide feedback, answer questions, and get to know them as much as possible! Your time will surely prove very valuable to them!
Make your interns feel valued
Nothing brightens your day more than when someone tells you that they appreciate your work. When a co-worker thanks you for your help on a project or your manager tells you how valuable you are to the team, you can feel an immediate boost in your motivation and productivity as a result!
Interns are no different, especially in a remote setting where they don’t always get to see the direct impact of the work they are doing.
Consider taking steps to show your appreciation for your interns, just as you would with normal employees. This can involve many things and you’ll want to get creative and have fun with your ideas! Something as simple as an email “thank you” or a “shoutout” during the next team meeting can be thoughtful ways to show your appreciation.
You can also set precedence before your interns even begin with your company! When your interns are being onboarded onto your team, consider a social media post announcing their addition to your team. This can really show your interns that you’re excited to host them and look forward to the great work they will do!
Provide feedback, guidance, and advice
As mentioned before, one of the most valuable aspects of an internship is the mentorship component – connecting the intern with experts in their field of interest to share valuable advice and experience. Many aspects of the work world cannot be learned in school, but are rather gained through actual work (and internship) experience.
As seasoned professionals, you and your coworkers are in unique positions to really make a positive impact on your interns. It is your duty to share your advice, provide industry insight, and give valuable feedback and constructive criticism where possible. All of these components can help an intern grow as a professional, and provide a valuable and enriching internship experience.
First, you should consider a system for providing feedback to your intern based on their work and projects completed. This could mean having a debrief call after the intern submits a project where you can share your thoughts and provide constructive feedback. After all, internships are an opportunity for growth, and even if your intern is not as receptive to feedback as they should be, use this as an opportunity to coach them.
Aside from providing feedback over a call or in an email, you can also consider creating a “development plan” which you use to track an intern’s progress throughout their time with your team. Virtual Internships implements something similar on our programs, where students complete a self-assessment survey at the beginning, middle, and completion of their internship. The point of this self-assessment process is to track the skill development and areas the intern seeks to actively improve throughout their internship.
Along with tracking professional development and growth, it is also very helpful to open up your feedback to other members of your team. If the intern had contact with another colleague on a project or task, ask them if they would like to submit any feedback on the intern’s performance as well. By doing this, you are also allowing other members of your team to have a part in the intern’s professional development and overall experience with your company.
The value of being able to share your own knowledge, experience, and advice to your intern is what makes this mentorship aspect so important. It’s not just about the work they’re doing for your company, but what the intern also gains in terms of life lessons, professional advice, and connections. After all, an internship is a two-way street, and the intern’s performance and motivation can be directly impacted by your performance as a supervisor and a mentor!
Whether you’re providing feedback, writing a reference, or creating a career development plan, consider how you can best support your remote interns! If you are a company interested in hosting remote interns, please contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org.