You may have seen the article about virtual internships and Urban Interns in today's Wall Street Journal. If not, a few highlights:
- Virtual internships are most popular among small to midsize companies and online businesses.
- Virtual internships first became popular in the late 1990's in information technology and software development. Today, they also include the sales, marketing and social media departments of companies across various industries.
- One of the many benefits of virtual internships include an expanded pool of candidates and saved money on office overhead.
Hmmm...Interesting. Does a virtual intern make sense for your business? If so, here are a few things to consider:
- If working virtually is new to you, before jumping in and hiring a completely virtual intern(i.e. you're in NY and your intern is in Seattle), test the concept with someone semi-virtual (i.e. you're in Boston, so is your intern). This allows you to have the benefit of bringing someone on without increasing your office overhead, but still gives you the opportunity to meet face to face with your intern as needed.
- Set up the structure for communication at the outset. Do you prefer to talk on the phone once a day, or receive an email update once a day? Especially because you won't be sitting together and your intern won't have the opportunity to observe your work style, it's particularly important that you set the rules at the outset.
- What's the schedule you expect your virtual intern to keep? Do you want them to be available for you during your business hours or can they work on their own schedule? With a virtual arrangement comes a lot of independence for your intern, so if you'd like them to be working more on your schedule (and not potentially at 3 am!), it's necessary to state this at the outset.
A virtual intern can be a great resource for your company. Sure, because virtual internships are relatively new (and may be completely new to you!) you'll need to make an upfront investment in time in thinking through the position. But, find someone great (like our very own Urban Intern) and it could very well pay off in multiples.
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