What Your 2020 Virtual Internship Is Missing Part 2
Published September 18, 2020 by Archetype Solutions Group
5 minute read
In part 1 of our guide to making your virtual internship incredible we shared the perspectives gathered from our interns and their managers this past summer during our first-ever virtual internship program. They highlighted the importance of setting communication norms, being rigorous in involving them in activities that build culture, and providing the same if not more professional development opportunities. In this second part, we will provide even more best practices to keep in mind for your internship.
Archetype decided to pivot its internship program to a virtual one after it was clear that it would be in the best interest of safety to not return to the office that summer. 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 this guide would be even more impactful if it came directly from our intern class. Juliana Romeo, our social media and marketing intern, took on the task of reviewing the feedback and synthesizing the information in both parts of our guide.
THE ARCHETYPE SUMMER 2020 INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE
BY JULIANA ROMEO
In the beginning of the summer of 2020, Archetype entered uncharted territory by hosting a fully virtual internship. To gather best practices, I interviewed the Archetype team and my fellow interns to uncover their tips for executing on successful virtual internship.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
“As a manager, I’m very aware that when I ask for feedback from interns, they may not initially feel comfortable providing suggestions for improvement. So, I work hard to demonstrate that I sincerely want their constructive feedback by thanking them for it and by implementing their ideas.”
– Max Waxman, Senior Analyst (Intern Manager)
One of Archetype’s values is to build trust in order to communicate transparently and create an environment to give and receive feedback. It became apparent to me very quickly that my feedback was welcomed in every meeting.
By observing the feedback norms within the organization, we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones to contribute feedback. One best practice the managers shared was that to improve the intern program, they mapped out opportunities for the interns to provide continuous feedback through surveys and project feedback sessions. They also created a structure by which the intern class was given consistent and timely feedback from their managers and other team members they worked with.
One example for how feedback was baked into our internship was during our 5-week intern-led project, during which we met with our project advisor on a weekly basis. This helped us to understand if we were on the right track and pivot our strategy if needed. Opportunities to build personal connections and give and receive feedback are some of the most important aspects of internships, and Archetype successfully provided these opportunities within the virtual environment.
- We sent anonymous pulse surveys throughout the internship to gauge how the class was feeling and address any challenges.
- We provided the interns with the experience of a full-time role by giving them a mid-way and end of internship review where they reflected on their goals and performance with their direct managers.
- At the end of the internship, we asked them to give us feedback on what we did well and what we could have done better.
THE FUTURE OF VIRTUAL INTERNSHIPS
“I initially thought that managing someone virtually across the country would be difficult, but I was able to put norms into place that made it no different from working with anyone else on the team. We’ve managed to have a successful summer by agreeing on normal working hours ahead of the internship start date, but both having flexibility in our calendars to start a bit earlier or finish the day a bit later when needed.”
– Danielle Crosswell, Senior Software Engineer (Intern Manager)
Danielle lives in Philadelphia but managed Joseph, who lives in San Francisco. Through the flexibility of virtual internships, Archetype was still able to have Joseph intern over the summer despite the fact that he was working on West Coast time. If virtual internships become the norm, companies can expand and diversify their applicant pool, as applicants will no longer be limited by geographic location or the expense of paying for temporary summer housing.
My fellow interns and I have enjoyed the flexibility of our schedule and not having to spend time and money commuting into the city.
Because of these benefits, more and more companies may choose to offer virtual internships even well after the pandemic is over. It seems that as long as companies prioritize their interns and create opportunities for communication and professional development, more students may even prefer virtual over remote internships.
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.