With an effective vaccine on the market, companies are beginning to look toward the post-Covid work world. Many envision a new model: a combination of remote work and office time. As you begin to reflect on your interns’ virtual experience, look to implement the key aspects of remote work into this new hybrid model. Doing so will maximize your interns’ experience in terms of value, quality, and worth.
Encouraging Flexible Schedules
Remote work maximizes flexibility. This has been a key takeaway from virtual internships. This luxury allows your interns time to schedule meetings and complete work at hours most convenient to them, ultimately leaving time for your interns to focus on other critical aspects of their professional growth: academics, informational interviews, resume building, and networking. Further, a flexible schedule allows your interns more time for hobbies they enjoy. Giving your interns the ability to do what makes them happier and healthier is two-fold. Not only are “happy employees up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees” (1), but their happiness results in a stronger company culture. When interns and employees are happy, your company thrives (1). Your interns will associate with the flexibility they experience with your internship, making it one they won't forget.
Emphasizing Independence & Creativity
If remote work has taught us one thing, it’s this: encouraging your interns to be independent and creative “creates opportunities for them to become involved in highly-motivating and rewarding experiences” (2). With no superiors physically present, you give your interns space to be “independent, introspective, and self-reliant” (3). When this occurs, you can get creative and focus on their career growth. This allows for new thoughts, ideas, and processes as the independence frees up space in their mind. Ultimately, originality thrives in areas free of outside influences (3). Prioritizing independence and creativity is mutually beneficial for both you and your interns. Your interns feel trusted, valued, and impactful. As for you, your company image improves through the ingenious work your interns are producing. Independence allows for your interns’ creative bells to ring.
Improving Executive Function Skills
The virtual experience has resulted in interns becoming well-versed in a variety of executive function skills. With flexible schedules and increasing independence, your interns will have to develop time management skills. Remote work relies on communication, forcing interns to learn how to communicate in a clear and concise manner and in a way that compels others to listen to them. The relevance of virtual tasks encourages your interns to grow more familiar with critical computer software, such as Microsoft Excel and Adobe Reader, which in turn expands their skillset and scope. The newness of remote work comes with much difficulty and unclarity, motivating your interns to tap into their ability to problem solve. Expanding your interns’ skillset and encouraging personal and professional growth is critical to a successful internship experience. Not only for them, but for you.
Though your interns missed out on the typical office experience, much has been learned through this virtual year. Remote work encourages flexibility, emphasizes independence and creativity, and improves executive function skills. This is a powerful combination. As you enter a post-Covid world and remodel your internship program, reflect on these key takeaways and how you can successfully implement them into your re-branded program. Just because this year was a ruinous, doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it.
For more information on creating successful internship programs, visit Ontern.com