Internships are a great way to introduce promising students to your company while also providing valuable work experience, and this remains true for remote internships. In addition to day-to-day tasks, part of the internship experience is a range of engagement opportunities for the interns. Beyond the standard summer outings and after-work social hours which are now all being done virtually, the opportunity for interns to meet and hear from company leaders is one of the most important parts of any internship – and students know that. In fact, research from RippleMatch found that one of the top concerns of students taking part in remote internships is that there won’t be opportunities to forge strong connections with senior leaders. To mitigate these concerns and provide interns with a valuable and fulfilling summer experience, it’s important to go the extra mile to connect interns and senior leaders. Looking for ideas? Here are six:
A Video Greeting
An email newsletter to your interns may seem simple, but there are ways to make this more traditional communication seem fresh and new to students. An easy way is to embed a short video greeting from a senior leader in the firm. With so many people now working remotely, many senior leaders have set up a home office with the right equipment—which can be as simple as a computer with a webcam, a good mic, decent lighting, and an uncluttered background—to make a quick, but thoughtful video for their interns. A more informal video can provide a real personal touch, especially when students know it’s being broadcast or recorded from an executive’s own home office. A few words of welcome on video, these days, is within reach for most senior leaders with a bit of technical support or video editing provided by a team member.
A Phone or Video Call
A scheduled, one-on-one phone or video call, either to have a formal discussion or to just provide some career advice or networking contacts, is one of the most high-touch ways a leader can engage an intern. Providing some guidance to the interns to help them prepare to make the most of such a call may be useful, especially if they have not had much professional experience. With the right set-up, a brief informational interview or advice-giving session can be a highly meaningful experience for an intern.
A Handwritten Note or Gift
If you normally provide new interns with a few swag items like a company t-shirt or hat, think about mailing the same items to them, wherever they may be around the country or the world. Attaching a thoughtful, hand-written note from a senior leader can make this giveaway item into an even more valued keepsake for an intern, while promoting your company brand.
A Virtual Party, Lunch or Coffee Hour
Consider sending your interns a small food-related gift card so they can cover expenses for a virtual social hour or lunch with senior leaders or others in their teams. An impromptu “water cooler hour” where team members from different departments, and executives or leaders, can pop in to an online chat or meeting can be a fun and unexpected way to engage your interns with leadership.
Executive Presentations or Round Tables
Can interns call in to an executive-level meeting to observe how the decisions are made? Can you ask an executive, or several, to provide a brief, formal presentation about a key company goal or initiative? These can be great ways to engage students to get “face time” with leadership, while helping them better understand company strategy and culture.
If your interns have a final project, ask them to provide a brief 5-minute Zoom, WebEx, or other video conference-based presentation, focusing on their achievements or outcomes over the summer, and ask some of your executives to observe the presentations and provide feedback. One of the best lines a student can add to their resume is “Conducted a presentation on final project outcomes for senior company executives.” The feedback they receive from senior leaders can also be invaluable to their career development.
Remote internships can be just as fulfilling as in-person internships, especially with the right mix of thoughtful programming. Use these six recommendations to help interns grow their confidence and their professional network this summer.