Remote Summer Vacation/Internship Programs

Posted by Andrew Purchas

GradConnection’s Experience

From GradConnection’s point of view, ReadyGrad’s guide on how and why taking on board an intern in these interesting times is a good idea is extremely topical as one week before our enforced shutdown, our own intern walked through our door. Whilst coming to terms with the rapidly changing situation our Intern was eager to learn and wanted to stay on remotely so we got to work. Initially the task was quite daunting but here’s what we went through:

  • WFH checklist - We completed a crude WFH checklist assessing workstation, internet, peripherals
  • Hardware - Managing strict hardware / security requirements and WFH policies meant we had to track down company controlled hardware and set it up for this unique case. Allegedly one of our old laptops from our pickier tech junky staff was still an amazing spec! We set up a quick delivery service (in my Mazda 3) to drop this around with everything else needed from the WFH checklist.
  • Training / Mentoring - Training was limited but our team members who helped with the hardware took him under his wing bringing him up to speed via slack and a lot of zoom calls. His direct team were essential, helping him out with regular zoom calls, screen sharing to help him learn our systems and tasks that needed to be performed.

Looking back, we’ve had one of our busiest peak seasons but it has gone extremely smoothly in part to our Readygrad intern taking on a good chunk of that workload. Whilst we had to work out how to manage this strange situation, it has turned out to be a small one off overhead that has paid off in dividends!

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Readygrad’s formal program

In these challenging times many companies are changing their business models by moving online, using digital platforms to connect teams and remain operational. Internship providers face similar challenges, and have adapted their internship programs to allow businesses to engage with interns remotely. Remote interns are a cost effective way for businesses to get help with daily tasks and projects, whilst providing valuable learning and experience. They are accountable for handling their schedules and completing tasks or projects within specific time frames.

As social distancing reduces the conventional ways of communication, host companies provide interns with weekly plans and regular communication touch points, access to a suite of tools for remote connection, chat apps like Teams and Telegram, and video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype. These plans don’t need to be complex and can be built in different ways. For example as part of an overarching project, one IT Australian company has provided their interns with a simple weekly schedule of tasks, clearly highlighting all requirements to be completed - view an example of the weekly schedule here.

Remote internships enable students to enjoy the same benefits of an internship undertaken in a regular workplace environment. This is why it is so important for businesses to support remote internships with some minimum requirements including:

  • Providing appropriate activities for the student to complete with specific deadlines.
  • Commiting to regular contact points, training and mentorship throughout the week.
  • Providing opportunities to connect with team members via video or teleconference or chat tools.
  • Providing access to programs, software or hardware needed to complete the internship tasks remotely.

Remote interns are only as good as the information given to them to fulfil their tasks. By giving them the right tools and helping to make them succeed, companies can keep the gears of their organisation turning. The onboarding process for remote interns isn’t that far from the regular practices adopted in ordinary onboarding situations. Some businesses set up a full day Zoom session with groups or individuals and with screen sharing to go through system and software setup, best practices for operating remotely, and safety procedures. Other companies provide access to learning management systems and ask interns to complete modules pertinent to their induction. With larger groups of interns, some companies appoint a leader in the group to guide other interns through the onboarding process.

Companies that are currently having to align their business offering may find themselves busier now than ever before. Those all-important projects, which a few weeks ago were seen as the “be all and end all”, are now being forgotten about. Companies can rely on interns to get projects completed that may have been temporarily shunned, or even tasks required to help with moving business models online to adapt to these unprecedented times.

If you would like to learn more about hosting an intern click here.

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