First time hiring remote interns? Here’s how to make sure they are progressing

18 Oct 2018

Remote work is on the rise. According to a survey by Upwork, hiring managers predicted that 38% of their employees will work remotely within the next 10 years. When it comes to internships, early stage startups are starting to capitalize on remote interns as they can support and increase the productivity of their small teams.

Hiring remote interns doesn’t by any mean, jeopardize the quality or the quantity of work accomplished. If the hiring process is done wisely, it will save you the consequences of hiring the wrong candidate just because they are located in the same area as yours. Therefore, you should seek candidates who are passionate, highly cooperative and eager learners.

Knowing how to manage remote interns is the second part of the process. It could be challenging to mentor a number of remote interns dispersed around the world for these reasons:

  • Remote interns lack experience

Being in office makes it easier to mentor your remote interns who probably lack hands-on experience and need constant feedback. So, working with a remote intern who needs to be taught the basics of work could be challenging.

  • Communication barrier

Face to face communication is known to be an efficient form of communication. Communicating through short and concise messages could put you at risk of being misunderstood. Also, having remote interns located in different time zones could delay the delivery of messages and affect the productivity of your team.

  • Losing track of tasks

The lack of face to face communication can lead remote interns to lose track of tasks and end up being disengaged.

It is possible to overcome these challenges and lead a productive remote team that is dispersed around the world. It takes preparation and management to make this remote internship a rewarding experience and to do so, there are few rules to consider:

·   You need to make sure your remote interns understand their roles and responsibilities.

·    Make sure they are given clear feedback.        

·    Make sure they get along with everyone else in the team.

·   As a leader you should encourage transparency and effective communication.

So, as your remote interns are starting the journey, here are few steps to help you develop an effective remote internship program:  

  • Outline the job description  

Before the commencement of the internship, it’s important to outline the tasks that will be assigned to the new remote intern. Having a clear job description saves a lot of time because you will know exactly what to expect from the remote intern. The worst thing that can happen is leaving your remote intern unaware about how to start. An online orientation session could be a good start to make the whole team familiar with each other’s roles and responsibilities. 

  • Give feedback

Experience is on top of the reasons why students and fresh grads look for internships. It is crucial to give your remote interns regular constructive feedback. This will help them not just during the internship period but also in their future endeavors. The key to delivering a constructive feedback is to be honest with them. Nothing is better than a feedback that is based on facts. So, make sure you know exactly what their weak points are and have a conversation with them to figure out possible solutions. Make your feedback short, specific and focused on the work.

It’s also encouraged to give feedback frequently so instead of evaluating their performance at the end of their internship, give them feedback after the completion of every project or task. For example, mention what could have been done better, how and what do you expect next from them.                                    

  • Give clear instructions

Your interns are probably fresh grads or senior students. They might not understand everything about your business or how most of the tasks are done. Set clear expectations and be ready to give them clear instructions before starting a new project. Dedicate some time to teach them new skills that could help them perform better. Give them tips on how to do things better. Make them feel comfortable asking questions and provide them with meaningful answers. In sum, trust them and be there to support them throughout the internship.

  • Utilize communication tools

It’s challenging to track the progress of remote interns because they aren’t located in the same office with you. However, it’s possible to keep track of their progress by utilizing various communication tools. Communicating with your remote interns daily is important so that they don’t feel forgotten. To do so, there are many options to facilitate the communication process and help them perform better.

-  Chat apps: For daily tips, quick messages or important announcements, use one of the business chat-app such as Slack. Slack makes it easy to share your quick announcement, files and links. Other chat apps such as Google Hangouts or Whatsapp can be useful too.

- Emails: Communicate with your remote interns via email. Emails are beneficial when you want to share a detailed or important information.

- Video conferences: schedule a weekly video conference with your remote intern. The worst thing that can happen to remote interns is being left out without clear direction. So that’s what weekly meetings are for. Have a regular meeting to discuss previous and upcoming projects and/or to discuss any concerns or problems they are facing.

How to measure the progress of your remote interns?

Measuring the progress of your remote team is a crucial step. Unlike, office-based internships, evaluating a remote intern is based on far more metrics than just being in the office. There are two schools when it comes to evaluating or measuring the progress of your remote interns. First, using results-oriented metrics to check whether the intern has achieved the expected results. Second, evaluating based on passion. Many employers choose to evaluate their interns based on their passion, commitment and determination as they believe that passionate employees are their most valuable asset. Elliot N. Dinkin President and CEO of Cowden Associates Inc. says that “A passionate employee searches for better solutions, takes measured risks, performs at a higher level year after year, works the hours needed to get the job done and is well connected to others internally and externally”.  Both ways are efficient for evaluating your remote interns. It’s just a matter of preferences as it depends on the goals you set for each internship.  

Finally, being a good mentor to your remote interns is beneficial for your startup as it is for them. A successful internship program will help you find your future employees and explore more opportunities for your next hire.

If you are about to hire your next remote intern, try our Free Trial and post your first remote internship for free.


By: Menna Shalaby

Content Manager

Strategic Partners