Onboarding Checklist for Virtual Internships

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Brittany Tilstra

For the first time in... ever (?) internships went virtual en masse this past summer and many companies are now considering making the switch permanent. In many cases the switch made internships accessible to a wider, more diverse talent pool. But, there's still a ton of work to do to perfect this experience. Here’s a few things you can do to ensure your interns, and even yourself, have a fulfilling and meaningful experience.

The 5-point checklist to create an engaging employee experience for interns

Have a one-on-one intern orientation

Even if your organization provides a general orientation for new interns, it’s helpful to set aside a block of time for a few informal introductions, general Q&A's, and time to lay out organizational expectations.  Not only will it allow your interns to form a more personal and comfortable relationship with you, but they are people you’ll be seeing an awful lot and it's important to take the time to get to know them. So, get on that Zoom call and get to know your interns as individuals.

Introduce them to other leaders

In a time where your interns won’t be getting nearly as many face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities as they would in an office setting, it's important to provide your interns with networking opportunities. Hosting small AMA's and fireside chats with leaders virtually can be a great way to connect newbies with senior execs virtually. These connections have the power to inspire interns to take on larger projects or leadership roles, and hopefully provide them with relationships they can utilize well into their career.

Put the intern task list in writing

While this may sound obvious, it should always be abided by—especially in the case of remote work.  Discussing tasks and projects over video call is definitely helpful to provide more context. Be sure to provide your employees with a written list that includes dates and any expectations for outcomes or KPIs, leave time for questions and make sure that interns have a course of action if they get stuck while working on those projects.

Set aside time for them to meet with fellow interns

Take advantage of any social connections you can provide your interns with, the more people they have in their support network, the better! Take care to introduce interns from a variety of departments to each other. Not only will this allow them to expand their knowledge of the company and its working components, but the interpersonal connections are critical to good work and future offer acceptance.  Knowing their coworkers on a personal level will create a friendlier work environment, promote more creativity and free thinking.

Schedule regular check-ins

Even in a “normal situation” (AKA a world without social distancing) interns will find themselves feeling lost and forgotten. It’s important to have a regular check-in time scheduled (which is even easier to maintain in a Zoom call scenario). Use this time to provide and receive updates, and check in on your intern’s thoughts and experience. Ensure they have a safe outlet if they’re struggling or have any feedback.

Interns are only with your organization for a short period of time, and if offer acceptance is your goal, you need to give them an amazing onboarding experience so they start of on the right foot. This can be challenging to do remotely, but with a clear plan and a great support network your interns can still get to know your company and thrive while working from home.

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