When it comes to selecting a remote internship provider, students and university staff are now faced with an ever-growing plethora of choices. This guide will serve as a resource for making the important decision of engaging in critical work experience, allow you to compare ‘apples to apples’, and make an informed decision about what is important, essential, and desirable in your final choice of remote internship provider.
Begin by asking questions on these key topics:
Experience: How long has your remote internship provider been placing students in virtual internships? Do they have a proven track record? Can you view testimonials of success from both students and university partners?
Variety of Career Fields: Can students from any major or department find a suitable internship to give them experience and knowledge in their chosen area? What can a student learn from a virtual internship within these career fields? Does the remote internship provider have resources to explain and define each career field?
Host Company Selection and Training: Are host companies trained in understanding the nuances of supervising a remote intern? Is it a project-based program with clear timelines, deliverables and feedback? Do resources exist to assist supervisors with supporting the growth of their interns?
Invested and Trained Supervisors: Is there a confirmed supervisor? Have they been trained in how to mentor the interns with regular feedback and advice? Have they been given the technology tools to run a virtual internship program? Has the program set out expectations that enforce a strong feedback loop and project planning?
Online Course & Assessment: Is there an online, credit-bearing course to help prepare students in advance of the program, and provide a space for reflective learning during the program? If so, when do students typically gain access to this online resource?
Career Coaching: Is there external coaching from trained professionals to help students push their learning outcomes within a recognized framework such as the NACE Career Competencies?
Program Managers and Community Support: Alongside the Career Coach, is there a program manager who is there for the intern to deal with any issues or questions they have on the program? Can interns share questions and experiences with students undertaking similar online internships?
Intercultural Exposure: Is there an option for placements with global companies, so interns gain experience with international work? Are there any language support or initiatives for those doing international internships?
Competitive Pricing: Is the price right in terms of high-quality placements, career coaching, and enhanced employability? If too low, is the appropriate level of supervision being incorporated? If too high, does this offer the correct return-on-investment for the intern?
Risk Management Support: In most cases, virtual internships run smoothly, but does the provider have a risk management procedure to deal with digital harassment and online bullying?
Start a conversation–you need to be able to trust the representatives of a potential remote internship provider. You want your students to have a stellar experience on their remote internship. Do you know the people who are setting this up? Do you trust them? Can anyone else vouch for them and their programming?
Test the waters & begin a pilot program–Start small with a group of 5-10 students. Look at every step of the process as you go through to ensure the following; clear and frequent communication from all stakeholders, the acquisition of suitable positions for desired learning and experience outcomes, timely placements, and personalized introductions to the company and supervisor before work begins.
Stick with them–Follow student progress as they participate in the internship and any accompanying online course(s). Be ready to provide assistance when students need advice or a helping hand. Your interest in their position and the work they perform can make a big difference in performance effort and results.
Perform Assessment–Once the internship is complete, survey students to find out details of their experiences – not just the nuts and bolts of work, but also their opinion about the end-to-end process, program offerings, and ultimate results. What aspects of the program were favored, and which should be refined? Was support structured appropriately for each student?
Due diligence is crucial when selecting a remote internship provider that will determine the quality and success of the remote experience. Following the above guidelines should help guide you to find the perfect fit to fulfill the needs and desires of all three essential stakeholders in this equation: your institution, sponsoring employers, and your aspiring remote workers!
If interested in partnering with Virtual Internships to develop a remote internship program for your students, please check out our website.