Internships serve several purposes: as well as introducing potential new hires to your company and its workplace culture, they are an opportunity for interns to experience your city and determine whether they’d be happy relocating there to work with you.
Company location can be a make-or-break factor for some interns and job applicants. Even if the workplace culture and job requirements suit them perfectly, they may not jump at an offer if they’re not in love with your city.
With many summer internships remaining virtual in 2021, how can your organization showcase the lifestyle opportunities and most attractive features of your location via a remote internship? With some creativity and preparation, it may be easier than you think.
1. Create a welcome packet featuring your city’s selling points
Welcome packets for interns that include information on company culture and credentials are standard. Include a supplementary packet with information on everything they need to know about your city.
Whether you’re located in Palo Alto or Boston, Seattle or Atlanta, your location is sure to offer fun and attractive facilities for residents and visitors. Even if interns can’t tour the city themselves right now, whetting their appetite with tourism brochures can get them excited about the place. Many local state or city tourism authorities will provide attractive and informative resources that you can distribute. Plus, in the wake of COVID-19 shutting down travel and inhibiting movement, many galleries, zoos, and other public attractions began providing live streams or virtual tours online, so encourage your interns to tune in to these.
Think beyond standard tourist attractions, though. Also include information that will ease their move to a new city: cost of living information such as average rental prices; details on public transit networks; links to museums, galleries, and libraries; facts about local sports teams and recreational facilities.
Sites like Numbeo, NerdWallet, Bankrate are all useful sites that collect data about cost of living, property prices, and quality of life in many cities. You can find out the average cost of everything from a meal in a restaurant to rent for a three-bedroom house. As it’s searchable by city name you can either draw your interns’ attention to this site, or go a step further and pull some data out yourself to add to your welcome packet.
2. Assign interns a virtual buddy or mentor
There are many reasons why pairing interns up with a buddy or mentor is a good idea, and one is so they can chat about lifestyle and location factors. During an on-site internship, mentors will help an intern settle in. Their role during a remote internship will be a bit different, but it’s still a very valuable relationship to facilitate for your interns.
Where possible, match out-of-town interns with a current employee from their home city or state. If an intern from Wisconsin has questions about the San Francisco lifestyle, a fellow Wisconsinite will probably be better prepared to answer those questions than a born-and-bred San Franciscan (and so on.)
3. Host a virtual speaker series with prominent locals
If you can’t bring interns to your city’s greatest sporting events, museums, or restaurants, then bring those features to the interns. A virtual speaker series including respected sports players, coaches, curators, professors, chefs, or other local personalities is a great way to introduce your city’s culture to interns.
Contacting your local universities and colleges is one way of getting the ball rolling on this type of event. Many higher educational institutions run public lecture series, or MOOCs (massive online open courses) that they may be willing and able to adapt for your purposes.
Speeches and events can be pre-recorded if the speakers have limited time, or can incorporate a more interactive Q&A session where possible.
4. Provide a selection of movies and books related to your city
Many interns will spend their evenings and weekends watching movies or reading books anyway, so why not provide them with a reading or viewing list related to your city?
If you’re based in a major center like New York or Los Angeles, this will be easy (or, perhaps difficult because of so much choice!) But even smaller towns will usually have some homegrown literary or screen talent to showcase. This is another great way to get interns excited about your city’s culture and history before they ever set foot there.
5. Move large kickoff events to the end of the internship program
A beloved feature of many internships is a fun kickoff program that may include a city tour or visit to a cultural landmark, like a theater or other venue. It’s a chance for interns to socialize, and to experience the hospitality of your company and your town.
With a remote internship, a big kickoff event won’t be possible. But that doesn’t mean the whole concept should be scrapped. Hopefully, the health crisis will have abated by the end of summer, or in time for new recruits to begin work in the fall. Consider moving the ‘kickoff’ program to the end of the summer, giving interns the opportunity to visit your city before making a decision about whether to join the company. Or, fly shortlisted or successful candidates out to meet you at a safer time.
As with all aspects of working or studying remotely, there are pros and cons to remote internships. But, by applying some of these creative tips, interns can get a feel for your location even if they’re hundreds of miles away. You can even build a sense of anticipation, so they’re even more excited to experience the city for themselves when they can.