As your company responds to COVID-19 public health concerns, shifting to a remote internship experience contributes to your organizational goals and supports student learning. Below are resources to assist you in adjusting your summer opportunities.

Official university guidance about summer internships is available on the UVM COVID-19 webpage. The memo notes: “Health and safety concerns are, of course, paramount. The university recommends that all internships occur remotely where possible. However, the decision about whether or not to engage in an in-person internship will be that of the student and the internship sponsor."

Why offer a remote or virtual internship?

Remote or virtual internships are those in which work is completed off-site. Communication may happen through email, online chat, or phone. During this “shelter at home” period, these opportunities offer a way for organizations to meet their short- and long-term business goals, and for students to gain valuable workplace experience to develop their career competencies. Remote internships offer your company a strong candidate pipeline.

Tips for Success

Convert an in-person internship into a remote experience

  • Consider goals: What is feasible in an online environment?
  • What resources are needed? E.g. video conferencing apps, file sharing tools, project management systems
  • Who will coach/mentor this employee? Will one person provide the most continuity to a remote intern or should a team be engaged to offer advice/feedback on training or project work?

Consider offering project-based, or “micro” internships

If offering a full summer internship is not possible during this time, consider chunking up your longer internship into projects or “micro-internships”. Ideally, these are projects from your “wish list” that you would do given more time and person power. Examples include:

  • Conducting market research
  • Deveoping a social media marketing plan
  • Generating newsletter or blog content
  • Supporting virtual conference planning
  • Developing communications with customers during COVID-19
  • Editing episodes and producing social media content for a podcast series
  • Creating operations dashboards
  • Developing educational training materials

These projects should be short-term (between 5-15 hours), time-bound, and have clearly-defined objectives.

Best practices for working remotely

Handshake’s Blog, Creative Ways to Make your Virtual Internship a Success shares that 89% of students pursuing a 2020 summer internship would prefer a remote internship over a canceled one. The blog post offers useful checklists to help you and your team plan how to provide:

  • Consistent communication
  • Regular meeting times
  • Clear expectations
  • Pathways for consistent feedback (for both student and the supervisor)

Paid vs. unpaid internships

Compensation for an internship is not required or regulated by UVM. However, many students necessitate some kind of compensation for internships and cannot afford to work for free. Especially during these financially difficult times, we recommend that employers compensate interns for their work or consider short-term project work which may be more financially viable.

Research demonstrates that paid internships generate 2.5 times the number of applicants, a more diverse applicant pool, more engaged interns, and a steadier flow of talent who may covert to future employees. If hosting unpaid interns, please learn more about the Department of Labor’s requirements.

Promoting your virtual internships

Your virtual internship should stand out to students. The title should include key words like “remote" or “virtual." Clearly outline in the job description how this remote experience will be structured.

We offer two platforms for connecting with students:

  • Handshake: UVM’s job/internship platform allows you to specify required skills and experience, work responsibilities, and the specific time frame of the project or virtual internship. UVM students access these postings and contact you directly, allowing you to interview and select the student(s) who are the best fit for your position.
  • UVM Connect: An exclusive online community of UVM alums, students, staff and faculty, UVM Connect is the best way to tap into an engaged, supportive and growing global network. The Virtual Internship Group allows alums to connect with other Catamounts and share information on virtual opportunities.