July 15, 2019
Training and Development 01 July 2019
Benefits of a Remote Internship Program
Dillon Chen
Photo by DoDo PHANTHAMALY from Pexels

Remote internships differ from a typical internship in many ways. With the convenience of technology, you are now able to hire and manage interns without needing to have them come to the office every day. 

Like any other internship, there are many benefits to hiring remote interns at your company. One benefit is that interns are no longer doing menial tasks like fetching coffee or dry cleaning. They are engaging in very specific projects which creates more efficiencies within your organization. this also allows you to evaluate them on effectively - based on what they can bring to the table vs the quality of coffee they make.

However, remote internships come with their own list of drawbacks and things to consider as well. Adjustments will likely need to be made in order to work successfully with remote employees. In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the various pros and cons of a remote internship.

 

Benefits of Remote Internships

1. Convenience

Internships give you access to a pool of potential hires and a remote internship does the same thing! The difference is remote internships are not like a typical 9-5 office day internship. Meetings can be done online through video chat or by phone and can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you. 

The convenience of remote internships and technology will allow you to scale up the number of candidates as well. When interns work remotely, you don’t need to manage or assign someone to manage them the entire time. Proper organization and software allow your project managers to oversee multiple groups of internships instead of training one-to-one. Instead of only having 10 interns in the office during the summer break, you could now have 50 interns working on projects year-round.

While on-site interns can pop their head into your office whenever they have a question, remote interns are limited in the channels that they can reach you at. Questions can be answered at your convenience and you can address all issues in a single email or a phone call instead of having your flow interrupted whenever they need your help. Remote interns are usually flexible and accommodating to your schedule.

 

2. Diverse Candidates

Better diversity = better ideas! Remote internships mean you no longer have to source locally, but instead can have people from all over the country and even internationally participate in internship projects for your company. You could have interns working on the same team from Texas, Montana, New York, and California. The diversity of ideas and backgrounds will create richer project environments and more intuitive solutions. Another benefit of remote internships is getting rid of gender bias. Studies show that Females generally perform better in doing projects versus in an interview. They like to let their work speak for themselves vs talking about their accomplishments whereas men do better at promoting their ability.

Focus on skill-sets and culture fit is heightened when doing a remote internship, or “projectships” as we call it using the ProSky platform. Mitigating bias during the hiring process is something we really believe in so that companies hire the most qualified and best fitting candidate for the job instead of someone who just has great interview skills.

 

3. Accountability

With proper task management software, you can manage multiple interns at once and see exactly what tasks are being completed. Because assignments are assigned digitally, remote interns are accountable for handling their own schedules and finishing the tasks.

This type of task-oriented work can increase productivity and results. Instead of being an office running out the clock, remote interns are more incentivized to complete tasks so they can go do other things. Be sure to set clear deadlines for tasks and when you expect them to be completed so they know how their work will be evaluated.

 

4. Save on space and equipment 

Finding enough room for your own employees can be a challenge enough for most companies. If your space is limited, remote interns are a great way to keep your office from getting too crowded! No need to deal with the logistics of trying to provide a parking space, clearing out desk for them, or finding an outlet for them to plug into.

Remote interns don’t use office supplies and even come with their own equipment. The only investment required from you is your time and mentorship to guide them through their projects and tasks. 

You are no longer limited by the constraints of office space and equipment availability. Find a way to use this to your advantage.

 

Disadvantages of Remote Internships:

Of course, a remote internship isn’t for everyone and can be difficult for candidates and companies to adjust to. There is potential for some of the following issues to happen:

1. Miscommunication

Disorganization can happen when there are issues with communication. It is more difficult to communicate from a remote internship since there are no face-to-face conversations. Instead, everything is reliant on video chats, phone calls, and emails.  This can cause major headaches if meanings are confused and could cause mismanaged expectations. Different time schedules can also lead to a lack of conversation.  

Ensure transparency by defining processes, communication and clear deadlines. Speak up early to prevent instructions from becoming unclear, which can cause disarray and disorganization. 

 

2. Disconnected

Remote interns are oftentimes working independently away from everyone else without people around to talk to. With nobody pushing them, remote productivity depends on their own self-management and motivation. Many students who don’t know how to handle a remote internship can have trouble adjusting to this.  

Sometimes remote internships can cause interns to lose out on a lot of company culture. Company news and updates may reach them slower than your in-office employees. If they’re online at different times than you, it can result in time-sensitive tasks being mishandled or unfinished before the deadline.

Avoid virtual walls and work with your interns to establish regular meetings, chats, and expectations to keep open lines of communication and help them feel like a part of the office. It can also be good to set certain times where both of you will be working and reachable.

 

3. Potential Hires may be Remote 

A great benefit of an internship program is that it can eventually lead to a full-time position at your company! This will let you try out talent and even begin training them before you hire them which will save on onboarding costs and time familiarizing themselves with the culture. 

However, it may be more difficult to hire on a remote intern to the company due to location factors. Even if you think they are a great fit for your company and want to hire them on as a full-time employee, the distance from your office could mean that you have to pay relocation costs or keep them on as remote employees

 

Structuring the Internship program

Whatever you decide to do, the most important part of any internship is to have a structured system in place. Having a specific purpose in mind should be at the core of everything your company does, and hiring an intern is no different. Before you look into remote interns, think about what tasks or project should be completed by the end of the internship. 

Set goals and milestones based on the timeline that you want your interns to reach. Your interns should clearly know what they are expected to achieve during their internship, what their purpose is, and how the company will assist them in completing it.

Having this end vision will help you formulate intermediate plans and tasks for the intern to accomplish. Interns want their work to have value and mean something. Unorganized internships will reflect poorly on the company and without the proper direction, the intern will resent wasting their time.

This can be done quite easily with ProSky’s Pathways. Putting your intern on a remote intern pathway allows them to see all the goals and milestones that they should reach during the duration of the internship. You’ll be able to follow up on their progress and collaborate with them through the online desk feature.

Whatever tasks you put your interns to doing, remember that it is a two-way street. Don’t make it too repetitive and clarify how it will benefit them in the future. Their experiences in your internship should allow them to develop on-the-job skills that can be used in their future jobs.