Virtual internships: Why ‘engagement and experience’ are key

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series related to internships and employee recruitment in the era of coronavirus and priorities for HR leaders.

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As most employees remain working from home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, internships are also following suit and going virtual. But, moving to an online setting isn’t as easy as just creating a series of Zoom meetings.

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Read all of HRE‘s coronavirus coverage here.

Lunch and learns, mentor initiatives, virtual social events and access to a broad range of team members, Clark adds, all can help recreate the spontaneity that often fuels engagement during in-person internships.

Engagement and experience are at the heart of Alexander Mann Solutions’ new Virtual Internship Platform. The solution integrates with applicant-tracking, online-learning, core HR and other systems and can be tailored to the employer brand. The VIP tool can facilitate onboarding, and features a live-chat option as well as a 24/7 chatbot.

Jane Clark, Alexander Mann Solutions

“Whether it’s easy access to a recruiter during office hours or the intern-buddy chatbot at all times, interns can get answers to their specific questions when they need to,” she says.

It also allows cohorts of interns to communicate in chat groups, which, she says, can “shape their levels of engagement with their fellow interns.”

Personalization is embedded throughout, Clark says: All communication is personalized, and interns can set preferences on how they want to receive updates or communicate (such as via Zoom or Teams). Interns can “like” content and answer pulse surveys that invite personal feedback.

On the back end, employers can build core content across all interns’ programs as well as tailor content to certain groups. The tool can send alerts if interns aren’t interacting with the assigned content so that adjustments can be made. It also includes psychometric testing to assess skills and personality, which may fuel decisions about the future talent pipeline.

Diversifying the intern base is among the biggest advantages of virtual internships, Clark adds.

Related: How the world’s most admired companies drive D&I

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Read part 1 here.

Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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