Onboarding virtual interns in 2022? A virtual internship poses unique challenges when it comes to keeping everyone on the same page. These 20+ ideas for a successful virtual internship will help your team stay connected while your new interns get a sense of your company’s culture and values. Plus, you’ll learn how to make the most of this experience for both the supervisors and the interns.
A few of our favorite virtual internship ideas:
Read on for more information on these virtual intern ideas!
- Take your interns on a virtual field trip or office tour
- Mail interns a welcome kit
- Plan an intern book club or mentor program
- Create a Slack channel and “buddy system” for interns to connect with each other
- Host a virtual lunch series or knowledge panel for your interns
TLDR: in this list, you’ll find:
- Onboarding ideas for virtual interns
- Ideas for virtual internship activities
- How to keep remote teams connected
- Activities to make the most of a virtual internship
- Tools to help keep remote interns connected to the team
Why does successfully onboarding virtual interns matter?
There are a variety of benefits to having a successful, smoothly-functioning internship program – whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid. Host companies offer virtual internships and find that a remote internship provides a talent pipeline. Interns can also provide valuable help and insights for your team. Many interns come into their experience eager to help tackle meaningful projects.
Depending on their field of study, interns may help with key tasks such as data modeling and analysis, research, reporting, and much more. They can also offer a glimpse into the values, preferences, and habits of the next generation of professionals. As a result, an internship program can be a valuable addition to your company and a savvy investment. Make the most of your experience by taking the time to onboard your interns and keep them engaged.
Plus, virtual interns gain valuable work experience and professional experience. This may also be their first experience in a cross-cultural work environment. A virtual internship program can provide a lot for these students.
Onboarding virtual interns is particularly important in helping your team instill the sense of community you would normally find in an in-person office.
1. Send an All-Staff Introduction Email
Before your interns start work, ask them to share their preferred headshot and a bio. Or, create a brief questionnaire to send to each intern. You can ask them about their field of study, their professional goals, and any past experience they might have.
Be sure to include some questions that allow interns to show off their personality. For example, ask them to share their hobbies, a favorite food, or an unexpected talent.
Send this information out to your staff in an introduction email, and be sure to include each intern’s start date and work schedule. This will help your team recognize and welcome the familiar face in their next Zoom call! It will also help your virtual interns gain a bit of face-time with employees in their career fields.
2. Host a Unique Street Art Virtual Team Building Experience – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
Inspire creativity and get your interns out of their comfort sound by engaging them in a street art team building experience via Zoom! This live, interactive experience is led by a knowledgeable guide to share in street art trivia and interactive challenges.
Additionally, this event has a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. See the “Homage to King” public art mural in Atlanta, as well as Black History Matters murals around the city. You’ll learn about the history and culture of street art and the movements that shaped it.
Host companies love the activity kits which include custom corporate cards. Activity kits are delivered right to your employees’ homes, making planning easy, and can be customized with cookies with your company’s logo, making this a fun combination of a gift and a team building experience.
Learn more about the Unexpected Virtual Tours Street Art Virtual Team Building activity and book your session!
3. Invite Interns to Team Meetings
This one is short and simple, but it can make a big difference! If your team always meets on a particular day and time when your intern isn’t working (for example, when they’re in class), consider shifting the meeting time. More generally, think of your recurring team meeting as a flexible appointment that can shift times every few months so your current interns can attend, if possible.
This small adjustment can make a huge difference to your interns’ experience. Watching your team interact and problem-solve together will help interns learn valuable real-world skills. Moreover, the interns will be more informed about company happenings, helping them complete their work more effectively.
Do you dread the thought of finding a meeting time that works for everyone? Try Doodle, a free online scheduling tool that can help you easily gather everyone’s availability.
4. Create a Slack Channel for Your Interns
If your company uses Slack to communicate, consider creating a channel just for your interns. This will allow students in the online internship in different departments connect and share resources, tips, and experiences. They can also find common interests, build friendships, and navigate challenges together.
Are your interns looking to connect with their peers at other organizations? Send them to intern.club, where they can create a login and network with college student interns!
5. Mail Interns a Welcome Kit – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
Mailing your interns a welcome kit is a special way to help them feel welcome and included from day one. Send them a box filled with a mix of fun and essential items. For example, you can include items like sticky notes, pens, and branded company items or swag.
Many interns post photos of their welcome kits on social media, so be sure your items are Instagram-worthy! Pro tip: include a personal welcome letter from the intern’s supervisor. In the days when everything is especially digital, a handwritten note can be a welcome gesture.
We particularly recommend that if your headquarters is located in a particular city, then consider sending a delicious onboarding kit with treats from small businesses associated with that city — for example, here are great options for Atlanta, Seattle, and Chicago.
Not sure what else to include in a virtual intern welcome kit? Check out this list with 19 suggestions for items to include in a new employee onboarding kit.
6. Create a Mentor Program to Support Virtual Interns
The thought of creating a corporate mentorship program might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. One straightforward way to create a virtual mentor program is to pair each intern with a full-time employee. Then, encourage them to schedule a recurring virtual lunch every other week. You can provide a list of conversation starters and prompts or allow conversations to flow naturally.
Forbes reports, “Mentoring benefits an organization by improving job satisfaction and retention, and aids in the personal and professional development of the mentee. Moreover, mentors themselves seem to gain just as much.” Read more about the benefits of creating a mentor program at your company.
7. Share Clear Virtual Internship Expectations
One of the most helpful things a company can do to ensure a successful virtual internship is to set clear expectations. In the days of remote work, there are a myriad of digital etiquette tips and norms to navigate. This can be daunting, especially for someone who hasn’t worked in a professional environment yet.
For example, does your company expect everyone to keep their cameras turned on during meetings? Is it okay to log into a video call wearing a hoodie and t-shirt, or is business attire required? Do you expect your interns to reply to emails within one business day – or within a few hours – or something else? What about on their off days?
None of these answers are necessarily right or wrong, but they vary from workplace to workplace. Clarify your expectations from the start and help prevent miscommunications later.
Want to go a step further? Consider creating a virtual internship handbook. This guide will help get you started.
8. Take Interns on a Virtual Tour of Your Office – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
If your company has a physical headquarters, and if some employees are working in that location, consider filming a virtual tour! Depending on your company’s size, this might be a full-scale production effort. Or, it might be as simple as walking around the office with a smartphone in hand. Believe it or not, this activity can be helpful even if your virtual interns will never set foot in the office.
Part of the benefit of an internship is seeing what an office environment is like outside of television and film. Even watching a casual tour of your office space can help spark questions like Would I rather work in an open, collaborative environment or a more private office? What would it be like to work in a hip, colorful building downtown – or a traditional high-rise office with sleek furnishings?
Consider how having a virtual tour of your office could be useful for even more reasons. For example, a video tour of the office could be a helpful recruiting tool when hiring new employees. Or, it could serve as a trust-building measure when shared with prospective clients.
9. Equip Your Intern Supervisors for Success
Intern supervisors are the “glue” that help keep the intern connected to the daily happenings and needs of the company. It’s important to make sure your intern supervisors feel equipped for success, too. Remember that for many of your employees, this may be the first or second time they’ve ever managed someone, remotely or not. As a result, your intern supervisors may benefit greatly from sharing challenges and solutions with each other.
Consider creating a Slack channel for their discussion, or set up a recurring video chat. When intern supervisors feel supported, informed, and prepared to communicate, that mentality can help set their interns up for success as well.
Craving more guidance? This list of 5 Must-Dos for First-Time Intern Managers is a helpful guide.
10. Schedule a Casual Recurring Virtual Lunch
This idea is a great way to build camaraderie on your team, whether you have interns or not. Schedule an optional recurring weekly or biweekly lunchtime video chat for your team. For example, you could choose Fridays from noon to 1 pm. This can be a free-flowing, casual time to network and socialize.
To keep things flexible, allow employees to hop into the video call as they’re able to during lunchtime. This virtual meeting creates an opportunity for chit-chat that can sometimes be lacking during more structured video calls. As a result, your team can feel more deeply connected when they have a space to talk about their hobbies, families, and life outside of work with coworkers.
For larger companies hosting regular virtual lunches, check out Hoppier. This paid platform allows you to send food, drinks, and gifts to virtual event attendees anywhere in the world.
11. Pair Interns Together for “Buddy Chats”
Group social experiences can be a lot of fun – but there’s nothing like quality one-on-one time to get to know someone. During a virtual internship, opportunities for individual relationships may be limited. For example, your interns might not have the opportunity to chat with each other in the breakroom, or stroll by each other’s desks to see what they’re working on.
For this reason, it can be helpful to assign interns a “buddy” to have virtual coffee with. Allow buddies to connect on a regular, recurring basis (for example, every other week). Or, you can mix it up and assign interns a different “buddy” for each chat. Either way, buddy chats will help provide a social break in your interns’ workday and help them form new connections.
To get your interns talking, share this list of 250+ Not-Boring Questions to Ask to Get to Know Someone Better.
12. Take a Virtual Field Trip to Europe – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
Even if your interns are working from their living rooms, they can still enjoy traveling with their new teammates! Take everyone on a virtual trip to Europe together for a fun team-building experience.
With Unexpected Virtual Tours’ European vacation, our engaging on-location guides will take your team on a trip they’ll never forget. Be mesmerized by Roman architecture, and explore the famous Prague Old Town Square.
Last but not least, the optional European Treat Box includes unique goodies shipped to each individual participant. Your team will love trying cookies from the Czech Republic, custom espresso, raspberry lollipops featuring the Prague astronomical clock, Dolce & Gabbana pasta, and amaretti cookies.
Learn more and book a virtual European vacation with your team!
13. Start an Intern Book Club
To get your interns connecting and building friendships, consider starting a book club just for your interns! This is a great way to offer interns a casual and fun leadership experience, too. Ask your interns whether one of them would like to serve as Book Club Coordinator. They can organize the meeting schedule, choose the book the group reads (or coordinate a poll to decide), and facilitate the conversation.
Alternatively, you can set up your program so that one intern per month will take on a leadership role in the group, so more people get a turn. Regardless of which option you choose, your intern book club can explore engrossing fiction reads, delve into books on business to prepare them for their careers, or choose another topic.
A few great business books for your intern book club:
14. Host a Virtual Employee Panel for Your Interns – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
Shine a spotlight on your staff members’ talents and expertise while helping foster connections between staff and interns. This activity involves recruiting staff members who want to serve on a virtual panel and share their knowledge with the next generation.
Get everyone together on a video call, and ask your employee panelists questions about their background, experience, and advice for interns. Be sure to allow ample time for an open Q&A where interns can ask their own questions, too!
Questions for your employee panelists:
- What do you wish you had known about business and life when you were a college student?
- What do you love most about working here?
- What’s one thing that interns can do to make the most of their time with this company?
- What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
- How do you see our industry changing in the next 5 years – and what skills will be needed to keep up?
15. Host an Interns’ Breakfast Club
Allow your interns to start the day with some casual chit-chat and project catch-up. Plan a virtual breakfast club for everyone to hop on a video call and start their day with connection!
Encourage everyone to show up on the call with their coffee or drink of choice, as well as their breakfast, if they wish. You can bond over bagels, connect over croissants, or mingle over muffins! Prepare a few topics for conversation, in case it doesn’t flow naturally. For example, you might ask everyone to share something new they learned this week, or what they’re looking forward to over the weekend.
16. Plan a Virtual Trivia Night
Enjoy fun and laughter in a laid-back virtual environment with a trivia night! Your interns will get a chance to show off their knowledge while unwinding from the workday.
Plan your own trivia questions and use a virtual quiz tool like Kahoot for an interactive experience. For extra fun, choose themed trivia nights – for example, one week, you might play Pop Culture Trivia another week might be Travel Trivia or even a topic related to your industry, like engineering or law.
For inspiration, check out this article: 17 Quiz Round Ideas to Take Your Virtual Quiz Game from Same Old to Next Level.
17. Play a Safe-for-Work Game of “Never Have I Ever”
Playing the popular party game “Never Have I Ever” is a great way to learn more about your team members. Keep your game PG-rated and focus on work and life experiences. As your interns and team members share things they’ve never done before, you might also find opportunities to connect your team members with new projects and skill-building experiences.
Take turns with your team sharing something you’ve never done before. If the other participants have had this experience, they have to put one finger down. The first person to put all ten fingers down wins! Consider giving the winner a fun prize or treating them to lunch.
Some “Never Have I Ever…” work ideas to spark conversation on your team:
Never have I ever…
- …Made a TikTok video.
- …Understood how a pivot table works in Excel!
- …Traveled internationally.
- …Owned a dog.
- …Played Wordle.
18. Book an Interactive, Music-Based Experience – One of Our Favorite Virtual Internship Ideas!
While we might differ when it comes to our favorite types of music, just about everyone can connect with some musical genres. So why not learn about the history of music with your team?
The Music Evolution virtual experience is Unexpected Virtual Tours’ most popular session! During this hour-long program, your team will trace the history of music with our vibrant and knowledgeable live guides. Then, participate in fun competitive team building challenges. Finally, get a live look at Music City, USA with our Nashville, TN virtual tour guide!
Diversity and DEI teams frequently choose this event because it ties Black music history seamlessly into the fun experience. With three thematic breakout rooms, this session offers your team opportunities to connect with each other while learning memorable and important lessons about American music history.
Learn more about the Unexpected Virtual Tours Music Evolution Virtual Experience and book your session! See why companies like Salesforce, Coca-Cola, Google, and more come to us for their virtual team-building activities!
19. Celebrate the End of Successful Internships
When internship season draws to an end, be sure you’ve planned a way to celebrate and thank your interns! Especially if your interns went above and beyond, it’s a nice gesture to pause and recognize their accomplishments.
Here are some ways you can recognize your virtual interns:
- Give them a shout-out during a team meeting or in your company newsletter
- Send them a digital gift card to their favorite store or restaurant
- Recognize their hard work on your company’s social media (with permission)
- Provide them with a letter of recommendation for future roles
- Write them a heartfelt letter sharing how you’ve appreciated their hard work
20. Gather Intern Feedback
How will you know if your internship program is successful? Ask your interns! Plan ahead now to ensure that you have a way of collecting your interns’ feedback while they’re still part of the team. You can allow them to respond anonymously through an online survey, as well as setting up an exit interview with their supervisor. Use your interns’ responses and feedback to shape your program in the future.
Plan your intern exit interviews with this post from Indeed: 8 Exit Interview Questions for an Internship.
From our team at Unexpected Virtual Tours to yours, we wish you a productive and fulfilling internship season!