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An employer guide to remote internships

By Ella Halstead
September 8 2020

Posted in Employer Resources

Despite being a rewarding experience, hiring interns and doing it well can be a lot of work at the best of times. The unpredictability of 2020 has left some employers are understandably concerned about their ability to successfully onboard and support potential remote interns this summer. We’ve gathered some of the key concerns and solutions to help ease employer stress this recruitment season! 

Do I invest in a student given the unpredictable environment?

While there is a large initial investment in hiring interns, the long term reward often far outweighs the costs. 73% of Summer of Tech interns stay on in some capacity with their employers after their internship is over, showing that you’re likely to be investing in a future employee rather than just a summer intern! Some of the companies we work with have entire teams made up of past Summer of Tech alumni (see FlexiTime’s story here)!

This being said, for many companies the investment is not trivial. Fortunately, there is funding available to help companies hire interns over the summer. For example, Callaghan Innovation has Student Grants available for R&D work which is available to anyone from big companies like Xero, all the way down to small start ups. If your company is accepted for this funding, Summer of Tech will waive our registration fee so you’ll have access to thousands of New Zealand’s top students for free!  

How do I access students if universities and career fairs are closed?

There are lots of platforms available to access university students outside of career fairs. Summer of Tech has over two thousand students on our platform that are available for full time summer internships in anything tech, marketing and HR! When students register for Summer of Tech, we vet and review their profiles to make sure that they are putting their best foot forward when applying for jobs. That means that employers are only seeing the best of the best and there’s no trawling through hundreds of profiles that don’t match what you’re looking for. You can also search for students based on specific skills, and we have anonymous searches to eliminate all unconscious bias! 

There are also other organisations that are able to help you find a remote intern that can be found on the Callaghan Innovation site

How do I make sure that interns are all set up and secure? 

It is important to ensure that all remote interns (and other employees) have access to the appropriate technology. Before the internship starts, make a list of everything that the intern will need to do their job effectively. You may prefer to lease equipment over summer which you can do from companies like this one

Ensuring that your employees have a good internet connection is one of the more important technology tasks before they begin remote work. Get everyone to test their internet connection regularly while they are working from home. There are multiple ways to support your employees with their internet connection – internet dongles, wifi extenders, and buying mobile data for them to use. 

Ensuring security is also important when your employees are working from home. It can be harder to make sure that all your business data is secure when it is spread across lots of different networks. Check out these tips on how to maintain security while working from home!

How do I support interns’ wellbeing and learning? 

It can be difficult to establish an onboarding process when working remotely, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less important to have one! It is important that you have a clear plan set out before your interns start working so they don’t feel lost and unsupported. Make sure to have training resources ready for the different platforms you use. Videos can be incredibly helpful for remote training as it shows steps clearly without you having to be there. Here’s a remote employees onboarding checklist that can help you start planning your own company’s onboarding process.

Another thing to consider when developing your onboarding process is a plan for if the situation changes during the internship period and remote working is no longer necessary. It is important to keep in mind that although your interns may not be new to the company anymore, they will be new to the office. Make sure to give them a tour of the facilities and talk them through access cards, kitchen rules and anything else that applies to your office space. It can be easy to forget that they’ve never worked in your office before when they’ve already been on the team remotely for a few months! 

Ensuring that there is a social support system in place is also key. Supporting your intern’s wellbeing is important, especially in a remote working environment where you can’t check in with them in person. There are lots of fun ways to incorporate team building into your remote workplace – here are some examples! At the Summer of Tech office, for example, we do a one minute dance party every Friday to get us hyped for the day and let loose a little! This type of team bonding will help make your remote intern feel like they’re part of the team and more excited to start work every day. 

Hopefully these tips have helped you out in planning for hiring a remote intern. Remember, even in uncertain times, the next generation of tech talent are still a rewarding investment who will keep giving back! These students will remember who gave them a headstart in their career in a time that they really needed it.

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