What Your 2020 Virtual Internship Is Missing Part 1
Published September 15, 2020 by Archetype Solutions Group
8 minute read
This past spring, college students were left to question the future of their summer internships as COVID-19 forced many companies into a virtual work environment, practically overnight. Most had the length of their internships cut in half, and 38% of student jobs and internships were canceled. Archetype was one of the companies that maintained its commitment to its internship program by taking it virtual.
As a business, we had just barely adapted our working norms to our new virtual reality, but we chose to use this challenge as an opportunity to learn and expand the possibilities for our internship program. By collecting feedback from the intern class throughout the process we looked to create an ideal framework to potentially offer hybrid working opportunities in the future. We thought it best to turn this piece over to our interns to capture their experience in full.
THE ARCHETYPE SUMMER 2020 INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE
BY JULIANA ROMEO
As a rising senior and newly hired Archetype intern, I had mixed feelings at first about a virtual internship. On the one hand, I was very grateful that my internship would take place at all, as I was hearing daily from friends about canceled internships. On the other hand, I was wary about whether a virtual internship would provide me with the kind of valuable work experience I expected to have the summer before my senior year. Due to the innovation and commitment that Archetype’s leadership applied to its virtual internship program, I was able to improve my marketing and social media skills, contribute to client-facing work, and participate in a multitude of professional development opportunities.
Archetype entered uncharted territory with its virtual internship program.
There was no clear cut blueprint at the time for virtual internships. Archetype created a program guided by the overall values of trust, communication, feedback, and professional development. To gather best practices, I interviewed the Archetype team and my fellow interns to uncover their tips for executing a successful virtual internship.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
“The ease and frequency of communication at Archetype helped me feel like a real part of the team. Even though I haven’t met most members of the Archetype Crew in person, the constant Slack messages, Zoom calls, social events, and casual chats helped me to get to know each of them and build real relationships.” – Kate Purschke, Strategy & Consulting Intern
In any organization, effective communication is the key to unlocking potential and increasing employee engagement. When I interviewed my fellow interns all of us agreed that the communication systems and norms the Archetype team established made the internships so much more valuable. Through frequent touchpoints with managers, fellow interns, and team members in our departments, the interns and I were made to feel connected to the team. We also had the opportunity to join virtual trivia night and happy hours, which helped us contribute to the lively and welcoming Archetype culture.
- To make up for the lack of in-person, professional relationship-building opportunities that occur naturally in an office we designated mentors for each intern. They would meet on a weekly basis, and mentors would check-in to see how they were doing and help introduce them to other teams and team members.
- We also established communication frequency norms so that interns had daily touchpoints with their managers and weekly touchpoints with their mentors.
- All of the managers and mentors met on a bi-weekly basis to check-in with each other and discuss ways to better serve the intern class and work through any challenges.
INVOLVE INTERNS IN COMPANY CULTURE
“Archetype’s culture has shined through this summer, even in a virtual environment. Zoom Lunch & Learns and weekly intern lunches have provided an excellent opportunity to get to know the other interns while expanding our knowledge and intellectual curiosity on a range of topics. After work comes time to use that knowledge during Trivia Nights, where our competitive sides come out!”
– Alex Anderson, Strategy & Consulting Intern
Without being in the office, it can be a challenge to get a feel for and participate in company culture. Instead of just planning events for interns, Archetype asked the interns what events we would enjoy or want to help plan. I helped plan a “Get to Know You” lunch with my team, where each team member created a slide of fun facts about themselves. This was a great way for me to bond with my team and learn more about them.
“We wanted the interns to get an authentic Archetype experience despite being virtual. One thing we value is team bonding as it helps create the trust we need to bring passion to every project. We usually have monthly summer BBQs and other fun events planned to help the interns get to know us and feel part of the team. This year, it was really great to see what the interns wanted to do, and work with them to build those bonding opportunities.”
– Sarah Waddle, Social Media & Content Strategist (Intern Manager)
Archetype also sent weekly snack boxes to interns and occasional company-branded small gifts, which made us feel celebrated and truly treated as members of the team. Despite working in a virtual environment, Archetype encouraged us to contribute to the company culture and have fun with the team.
- We included the interns in planning team bonding activities from the beginning of the internship. The interns were able to take on a leadership role for a culture event or initiative. This facilitated trust, energized the intern class, and helped them bond with the team faster.
- Mailing your interns branded company swag can come at a cost when they are working remotely around the country. However, it provides unique ROI in two ways. First, by giving someone a shirt or a water bottle with the company name on it when running a virtual program you are creating a tangible bridge for them to become part of the team. Secondly, providing your interns branded materials will increase your brand exposure onto college campuses across the country which will boost your talent pipeline.
PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
“Through one-on-one meetings, group learning sessions, and the work I owned, I was able to develop my interpersonal, analytical, and presentation skills.”
– Sam Bupp, Strategy & Consulting Intern
Professional development and relationship building is a crucial aspect of any internship as it allows college students to expand their network and prepare for their post-grad life. Translating this to a virtual format proved to be fairly simple as the team made their calendars accessible and allowed us to schedule 30-minute informational interviews via Zoom. They focused on providing us exposure to all levels of the organization so that we could explore the business and uncover any new professional interests. The informational interviews, specifically, allowed us to learn about career paths, roles at Archetype, and personal experiences within a specific industry. The professional development opportunities highlighted to us that Archetype not only wanted us to succeed at the organization but also in our careers post-grad, whatever they were.
This level of focus on our growth started in the first week. In our first week, the interns and I participated in Excel, PowerPoint, and communication training to not only help us prepare for our role but also to expand our resume skills. My fellow interns and I were able to speak with our CEO in just the second week of our internship, and we continued to work directly on projects which impacted the entire business throughout our internship.
By working with me to set goals at the start of my internship, my manager was able to gain a sense of my interests, strengths, and desired growth opportunities. From there we worked on a plan for how to ensure those goals were met with specific projects and tasks. I kept weekly notes on my progress towards those goals so that I could improve upon my resume at the end of the internship. Throughout the summer, I earned many HubSpot certifications that helped strengthen my marketing skills. This is just one example of how the Archetype team made the internship work for each of us.
- To provide more opportunities to connect and learn about different career paths, we encouraged our interns to speak to team members at all levels through informational interviews and learn about their career paths.
- We apply our 70/20/10 model for professional development to our internship. 70% of the internship focuses on hands-on project work, 20% is networking and learning from peers, and 10% is providing them with external courses or encouraging them to seek them out.
As the first-ever Social Media and Marketing Intern at Archetype, Juliana applies her writing and analytical savvy to design and deliver digital strategies for Archetype and its clients. She is a rising senior at Scripps College, majoring in Anthropology with a minor in Media Studies.