Cleveland Internship Summit: 5 Takeaways from Virtual Recruitment Best Practices
In case you missed it, a roundtable discussion at last month's Cleveland Internship Summit focused on virtual internship programs. Check out these takeaways from the session.
Businesses around the world are facing unique and unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies are now hosting internship programs and other recruitment opportunities in a virtual setting.
At the Cleveland Internship Summit hosted by GCP and COSE last month, one of the roundtable sessions explored the topic of virtual recruitment best practices—with participants sharing tips, expertise and ideas. Here are five takeaways from that session that might help you while planning your virtual internship program.
Takeaway No. 1: Think outside of the box when it comes to keeping virtual interns engaged.
Participants offered several suggestions for virtual events and activities to keep interns engaged and entertained. While at first students might feel uncomfortable participating in these activities—especially in a virtual setting—by the end they are excited and energized. Some of these virtual ideas include:
- Pizza making night
- Trivia night
- Happy hours
- Scavenger hunts
- Zumba classes
Takeaway No. 2: Don’t try these virtual activities until interns have had a chance to get to know each other and your team.
Taking a Zumba class is awkward enough for most people; it’s even more uncomfortable if you don’t know the people you’re doing it with. Be sure to introduce your interns to each other and your staff early and give them a lot of opportunities to enhance these relationships. Exposing interns to as many people as possible, as early into the program as possible, will help them feel more engaged and comfortable participating and will ensure these virtual activities are more effective.
Takeaway No. 3: Set clear expectations at the start of the program.
There are many challenges when it comes to working virtually—and you may find it necessary to set clear expectations from the beginning. From the start of the program, have your interns review your employee handbook and any other guidelines your company enforces. Be sure communication expectations are clear by having a discussion with your interns about how you would like to be communicated with, and how they would like to be communicated with as well. Making sure everyone is on the same page and is clear on expectations is a great way to start off any working relationship.
Takeaway No. 4: Reinforce the idea of being present.
Try to find opportunities to reinforce the importance of being present even while still remaining virtual. Require your interns—as well as all other staff—to have their cameras turned on during all activities. Encourage your interns to become involved in the planning process when it comes to the details of your internship program. Ask them what kind of work, activities and events they would like to see incorporated into the program. By helping to shape their own experiences, they will feel more engaged and present throughout their time with your company.
Takeaway No. 5: Use the buddy system.
One way to make sure your interns are particularly engaged and feel a sense of security is by assigning a “buddy.” Pair up an intern with a regular staff member and encourage them to schedule regular check-ins, weekly virtual lunches and other opportunities for them to connect. Your interns will appreciate having someone to go to with questions and serve as a mentor throughout their participation in your program.
Have you experienced a successful virtual internship program at your business? Share your tips with us on twitter.