Working with virtual interns – Things to keep in mind

Working with virtual interns - Things to keep in mindAbout the Author: Sanskriti Verma is a marketing specialist at Socialmbuzz and writes on several topics for the company blog. She shares insightful details about their internship program and provides helpful tips for the employers looking to work with virtual interns.

We were looking for some raw creative ideas and a new perspective for our company, and so we planned to hire interns. We interviewed many students and four of them were selected. We placed two interns under social media marketing and two under content writing for our blogs and our clients. Our task to manage them was not easy at first because they were working part-time from their homes. This was the first time we had hired any interns, so we were a little skeptical. We scheduled video calls with all of them and explained about our company and the work we do. At first, we gave them same kind of work to assess their skills and decide their positions in our company. Once it was done, we made a plan for managing them efficiently. Two of our employees were given the responsibility of mentoring two interns each. These are some pointers on how we managed our interns, which we think can help others too:

1. Tapping on their untapped capabilities:
We knew they were just students so it was our responsibility to make them understand the nuances of our work. We were open to their new and creative ideas. For first few days, we gave them simple tasks to judge their creativity and skills. Then, we started pouring some moderate and difficult tasks to bring them out of their comfort zone so that they could become better than they were before. They were open to our techniques and work and we appreciated their efforts and hard work. The results were very impressive.

2. Skype sessions two times a week:
As all of them were virtual interns, we had to interact with them twice a week through Skype video calls. We arranged these sessions so that we could know our interns better and explain them properly about the work they were doing. This also helped in clearing their doubts and questions.

3. Regular chatting at the end of the day:
The interns were daily assigned some tasks to do and at the end of the day, they had to update us. Regular conversations ensured that they were doing the work properly and their minor doubts were cleared daily. This also ensured a proper discipline and the given work was mostly completed on time.

4. Teaching them as much as we could:
Our responsibility was also to teach them as much as we could in two months so that it would help them in future. This was a two-way process as we also learned many things from them.

5. Flexibility in the working hours:
As all of them were regular college going students, we had to give them the required flexibility. We did not overload them with work. They received an appropriate amount of work which required only 2-3 hours or sometimes even 1-2 hours, daily. Sometimes, they could not complete the work on time but we understood their positions and extended the deadline. Giving them flexibility ensured a good relationship between us and they did all the given work happily.

When the internship was over, we got the results which we had desired earlier. Managing part-time virtual interns was not that difficult as we had imagined, and we had a great experience working with them. Since our first experience was so good, we decided to run another internship program a few months later. Our initial interns referred and promoted our company which reaffirmed our belief in the saying that a happy intern is the best brand evangelist for any company.

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