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How can I ensure my (virtual) interns have an awesome experience?

PetraMillarova's profile thumbnail
Hi @christinavanvuren! Although I never was an intern myself, we have interns at our company and a lot of them have been returning for more co-op terms recently, here's what I think we're doing right! I should add that I work as a software engineer and our interns are usually undergrad Computer Science students. Now that we've gone remote because of the pandemic, we still do all the below things, just not in-person but through videocalls and Slack messages. * Proper mentorship - at the start of every co-op term, we have a few sessions with the interns where someone from our team goes over a high level overview of our system. Everyone is prepared to help interns out if they have questions about the system or if they need help with the tasks they're working on. I think this is in part thanks to our team's culture, we are a group of great people who are always supportive and willing to mentor others. * Meaningful tasks - the things that our interns work on actually make a difference, 99% of the tasks our interns complete make it into production and are of the same importance as the tasks FT employees work on, only usually less complex.* Inclusion in the team - every co-op that comes to our team becomes part of it. Our interns attend the same standups, meetings, 1:1s and socials as we do. They're encouraged to engage with us outside of working on their specific tasks.
christinavanvuren's profile thumbnail
This is SO helpful, Petra. Thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like you have a great team!
PetraMillarova's profile thumbnail
I’m very lucky to work with a team of like-minded people. I think the key is to make your interns feel “at home” while providing the opportunity to grow. A lot of it depends on company culture, but the fact that you’re even asking yourself these questions means your interns will have a great time, I’m sure!
AshleyR's profile thumbnail
First off, awesome that you're thinking about this. I think that alone makes a difference, because a lot of people do not. Some ideas, in no particular order:- make sure you give regular feedback. I imagine it's even tougher in a virtual environment to get the "cues" to see if you're on track, etc. Don't make them guess whether there is room for improvement. - set clear expectations. Interns will want to go above and beyond, so if you don't expect them to be available online after a certain hour (or if you do), as an example, I'd make that very clear so they don't feel like they need to be "available" constantly. - I'm torn on the social element. I think some people really want that, but sometimes it can feel like a lot (for both you as their manager but also for them). I'd follow their cues here. A friend of mine did an internship recently where they did trivia like 3x a week.. at 7am (they started early anyway so they wanted to get it in early).
helenamerk's profile thumbnail
Hihi @christinavanvuren :) I've been thinking about this a LOT so maybe some of this is useful. For context we're an early stage startup and can't offer some of the structure and mentorship that other companies might be able to. We had fall interns, and just onboarded some for the spring.** Social **Social ends up being a huge part of the experience. When we started our program, we asked summer interns from other companies what the most frustrating and challenging parts were -- and it was the sense of belonging/unity with the team while being remote.We might be biased as our company builds Glimpse (www.joinglimpse.com) and our interns and employees have chosen to join because of that energy everyone on the team has. There's a lot of interesting social platforms I can recommend: Among Us + Zoom, Scribble.io, Gather, and (ofc) Glimpse :-)** Remote Collaboration**If you're not already using them, there's a few work-place tools like tandem (https://tandem.chat/) or remotion. - you'll need to use these with slack or another team chat tool unfortunately** Purpose **The point of joining a startup is working on meaningful things. You likely brought people on to help for some specific reason. In my opinion there should never be busy work or intern projects that just get sunset-ed at the end of their time with you.
fabiolarfg's profile thumbnail
Hi! I'm a former summer intern, last year I had the opportunity to do three remote internships, it was a great experience, here are some of the things I enjoy the most about it: -Weekly one-on-one meetings (not long, maybe 20-30 minutes) checking on my development, doubts, and any other questions. -Being included in decision making was great, I had a great manager at @zogo finance, and she always asked for my opinion and encourage me to give my point of view!-Weekly meetings to meet the team and just chat in a more "relax" enviroment was great, meeting other interns remotly is usually more difficult so I really apreciated it. Hope this helps :)
JessicaBeder's profile thumbnail
Hi @christinavanvuren! Echoing the sentiments above, it's great that you’re focused on designing a meaningful experience. That alone makes a huge difference. Here's a few tips I discovered while onboarding remote employees this past year. I hope they're helpful; best of luck!1. Shout outs: Have members of your team publicly recognize their work / share moments of gratitude (in community chats, over virtual calls, etc).2. Company-wide intro: With larger companies, new faces can be hard to keep track of. I like to share designed 1-pagers or a short deck with photos / bios / fun facts.3. Virtual team-building events: Plan relaxed, friendly group activities centered around getting to know each other (there’s lots of fun / creative online tools for this!)4. Virtual 1:1s: Calendar solo time with each member of your team individually, and/or colleagues that hold roles they can learn from. Ask them to come with questions.5. Virtual discussion panel: Ask 2-3 people from your company to share their personal career stories (how they got where they are today) and entertain questions from the group6. Goal oriented experience: Set goals for them to accomplish during their time, anchored with digitally facilitated benchmarks where they can share work / get feedback (google forms, polls, show and tell, etc). 7. Project-based experience: I’ve had a lot of success centering intern experiences around a major project (designing something, answering a big question, solving a problem). This is experiential learning at its best.
teresaman's profile thumbnail
I could think of some very specific questions to ask them in your first 1:1's to help set your interns up for success:- what is something you're hoping to get out of this internship? (another version of this can be more extensive and getting the to set short and long term goals)- what are some of your concerns? how can I / others best help you with them?- fast forward to the end of your internship, what would it mean for you to look back and think this was a great experience for you?