Remote Internships: How to Create a Great Intern Community

One of the biggest pros of internships is the sense of community among the interns. Unfortunately, with the influx of remote internships thanks to Covid-19, this has become much more difficult. It’s a lot harder for interns to really connect with each other and build that community environment without office welcome parties or onsite team meetings.

So, as an intern program manager, how can you still create that sense of community with your interns? Here are some great ideas from the pros:

Before the Internship Starts

  • Send a “getting to know you” questionnaire approximately a month before the start of the internship. Collect information on your interns’ hobbies and interests and share it with the team so they can get to know each other before they arrive. You can also use these responses to connect them with different mentors within the organization. 
  • Create a pre-intern group, typically using social media, for interns to connect directly with each other. This can also be used to find roommates (for in person internships). If you use an internship management solution, this may also be a feature that’s available directly within the intern portal. 
  • Build a regular email cadence of general announcements to keep your interns excited leading up to the internship and share important information.
  • Send a survey right before internship asking what they’re most excited about, and if they have any concerns about their upcoming internship. This can be very helpful in planning and training, especially when it comes to remote internships where they may have specific concerns about working from home. You can also ask what’s most important to them in terms of programming - you might be surprised to learn that interns are often more interested in professional development events than in social events. From this, you can plan your intern training programs and events accordingly.

    remote internships

During the Internship

  • Create an exclusive group for your current intern team. Creating a group specifically for your remote interns to connect helps them to feel included and gives them a place to network and get to know each other better. Some great ideas on groups you can create are:
    • LinkedIn groups for current interns
    • LinkedIn groups for intern alumni group (this can be only for alumni, and/or you could also use it to connect new interns with past interns)
    • Slack channels for interns
  • Communicate and motivate your new interns. Have your hiring managers send out welcome emails to all of your intern classes. Continue the group culture by sending congratulations emails, project updates and milestones throughout the season to keep everyone in the loop and create that community experience. 
  • Remember that your intern “community” includes the rest of the company as well, so have your hiring managers connect with their interns throughout the internship (preferably in a personal phone call or video chat) to see how things are going, answer any questions etc.
  • Remember that “Zoom burnout” is a real thing. While it’s tempting to host tons of video conference meetings and events in an effort to overcome the challenges of remote internships, it can become a burden instead of a benefit so try to keep it to a minimum and have a good balance of “business” and “social” meetings.

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After the Internship is Over

  • Do a post-internship survey. Collect insights on what your interns enjoyed most, where there was room for improvement, and ask for ideas on events and professional development. This feedback is incredibly valuable in adapting your intern program and building a long-lasting community.
  • Add your current intern class to your intern alumni groups so they can continue to build their network and enjoy the community benefits long after their actual internship.

Curious how other organizations have shifted their intern programs in the wake of Covid-19? Check out our insightful intern panel - PIVOT: Internships of the Future

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