Congratulations! You have hired your first virtual intern (a.k.a work from home intern or a remote intern) through Internshala. Hiring remote interns can be really effective especially for young (and bootstrapped) startups. Internshala, for example, was built by a group of virtual interns for first two years of its incipience. (Our success story).
Since this may be your first experience with work from home interns, we thought of sharing a few lessons, that we have learned on our journey, on how to get the best out of your virtual internship program –
A. The first week is really crucial:
- Proper communication with the intern is imperative. Spend 15 minutes with her every day (on Skype or on a phone call) to understand her working style, daily timings, expectations from the internship, and to get her excited about your vision as well as your expectations from her.
- Discuss her academic schedule during the internship period – ask about her exam dates, any college fests or events she’ll attend, semester breaks, and any other plans which she might have during which she may not be available. Prepare the work plan accordingly.
- Define tasks and compensation. Clearly communicate the work-hours she needs to put in her work every day/week and also let her know about the stipend. Ideally, these should have been discussed and agreed upon before hiring.
B. Task list:
Since a virtual intern is not present in the office, delegating work can be tricky and that is when a daily task list comes to your rescue. Ask her to email you her task list at the start of the day, and later an EOD (end of the day) update. In the beginning, you can give her a task list and ask for an update on it every day.
- This will make her feel accountable, and she will strive to perform better.
- You can track her progress on a daily basis which, in turn, will help you in giving her regular feedback.
- It will also be helpful to you in gauging the extent of responsibilities that could be given to her.
C. Make her feel a part of your team:
Virtual interns won’t have an idea about the work culture of the company and it is your duty as a mentor to instill the sense of being part of the team in her.
- Send a welcome email introducing her to the team and include her in some team building activities. At Internshala, for example, a new remote intern has to play Pehchan Kaun game to get acquainted with everyone. She also has to write a blog about her expectations from the internship that is published in our Team Diary section.
- A Facebook group of the team can be a great platform for the virtual reunions, bantering, and celebrations.
- Send out regular updates about the company’s growth and success stories and include remote interns also in it.
With a bit of planning and effort, a virtual internship program can do wonders to your business. Furthermore, if the intern performs well, she can also be invited for an In-office position during summer/winter break or upon graduating building you a strong talent pipeline.
Hope this helps. We would love to hear if you could add anything to it from your experience; please comment below.