The Essential Guide to Hiring a Virtual Intern

But even before the pandemic, virtual internships had gained traction globally as a better alternative for many businesses and interns. And in COVID’s aftermath, it’s obvious they are taking on an increasingly major role in the modern workplace.

So why should your business get a virtual intern this year?

  1. More flexibility
  2. They are easier to structure
  3. You’ll have a larger applicant pool
  4. More international exposure
  5. They’re more desirable to interns

Virtual internships easily fit into your schedule. 

Internships may feel like more effort than they’re worth, especially if you’re a small business.

You may be dubious about letting a new worker disrupt your workflow while you train them up – especially when they may not even work for you once their internship is up.

An online intern can complement your workflow without all the distractions. Remote interns can be assigned daily tasks and then left alone while you focus on your tasks. If they need any help, a quick phone call or message can remedy any questions they might have. The distance can be nice for busy managers who don’t always want to be interrupted during the workday to field questions and can help teach interns to be resourceful.

This flexibility often helps make interns more affordable for smaller companies as well. In the US, companies are not always required to pay interns if their internships can meet criteria including schedule flexibility for academic commitments. A virtual internship can give a student the space they need to complete their studies and work with your business on their own time.

Flexible Structure 

Besides simply finding the time to do them, structuring a good internship is tough. Your staff is usually stressed enough just fulfilling their own KPIs, much less coming up with KPIs for an intern and then chasing them over it.

With a virtual internship, you can structure daily tasks strictly around what you need ahead of time. You don’t need to follow a virtual intern around and make sure every moment of their time is accounted for because it’s on their time, not yours.

What if you don’t want to spend time structuring your internship yourself?

Some third-party intern hubs like Virtual Internships, a fast-growing online platform linking interns with businesses will even help by providing you with a framework that has proven effective for other interns. That way you don’t need to waste time researching how to keep interns busy at work.

Access to a wider talent pool  

Some sources say as much as 75% of interns lost their internships due to COVID. Coupled with higher unemployment in most nations today, there’s a lot of demand for new jobs. However, people are a lot less mobile too.

With a virtual internship, location stops being a factor. It’s a much smaller ask for both the intern and the employer and it’s often a win-win for both. And that’s not just for interns residing within your region.

Give your company an international edge without the paperwork 

Speaking of relocation, virtual internships solve an increasingly difficult problem for companies: finding the best global talent without having to worry about the extra costs of visa work.

Some of the best talent in your field may not even live in your country. Offering internships online lets you access the best the world has to offer without the hassle of paperwork. They can be a great way to test out an international employee before going to all the work of bringing them over on a visa. Remote workers can also be a great step towards moving into an international market.

Where to find your first virtual intern? 

If you want more information on hiring a virtual intern, we’ve got all the information you need to start setting up your virtual internship. All you need to do is sign up on their website!

At Virtual Internships, we work with top institutions worldwide to provide online internships to highly skilled interns in fields ranging from IT to business and everything in between. We’re always looking for business partners to provide positions to our quickly expanding roster of interns from some of the best universities around the world. Removed at as link so virtual internships is the anchor

Questions to ask when hiring a virtual intern:

  1. What should your intern work on?

If you’re having trouble thinking of what your intern should do, look at where your needs are:

Do you have busy work piling up?

It’s common in small businesses for senior-level employees to get caught up in menial day-to-day tasks that take away from their real job. This is a perfect opportunity for you to hire an intern to boost productivity.

 Tasks can include:

  1. Research
  2. Filling out forms
  3. Comparing reports
  4. Troubleshooting
  5. Creating Presentations

 Tasks involving new technology that your current staff may not know well like social media and SEO may be a perfect opportunity to bring in an intern. It can be a way for you to explore new avenues for your business without committing all the way.

A virtual intern can slowly begin taking on tasks for the position and move into a full-time role when you think they are ready.

2. What time do you have available for your remote intern?

 Internships aren’t just cheap work, they also require your time. Interns are looking for mentorship from your business. Before committing you should make sure to ask yourself these questions:

 Do you have any experienced staff available?

 An internship is a rare opportunity for a novice to learn from the best. While your top staff may be busy people, learning from them could be extremely inspiring and beneficial for your intern, especially if you intend to hire them later.

Who will answer day-to-day questions?

 You’ll need someone available who can answer any passive questions about projects. Find someone who has room in their day-to-day schedule and make them the internship program manager. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but a little regular interaction will help your remote intern feel involved.

3. What are your goals for your intern? How long will they take to achieve?

 Internships can be difficult for your intern and you as an employer if you don’t sit down and figure out what you want first. You must formulate clear, effective goals for your intern so you both can feel like something was accomplished.

Sometimes you can work this out with the intern once they get started, but more often than not it’s good to have these laid out already. An easy system to follow is the SMART goals framework: 

  • Specific – Avoid general goals like, “make ____ better”. What does “better” look like as a number? A better goal would be something like, “increase website traffic by 10%.”
  • Measurable – How can you know that the goal was accomplished?
  • Achievable – Make sure it’s something that can be done by someone who is still learning and in the time frame you’ve planned.
  • Relevant – An internship should do something that benefits the company. Don’t just make up for busywork. It will leave everyone less inspired.
  • Time-based – Have a definite endpoint. Internships aren’t meant to go on forever. Write down what you need to see in your intern before you are ready to move them into a full position. If they are just on for a couple of months, then what is something you could reasonably expect them to complete in a couple of months?

4. How will you communicate with your intern?

Once you have your timeframe, goals, tasks, and supervision ironed out, you’ve more or less designed an ordinary internship. The extra challenge from the virtual internship is deciding how you will communicate.

Remote internships may add some extra communication challenges including:

  • Dealing with different time zones
  • Keeping interns engaged
  • Making interns feel like they are part of the team

Tips for effective remote communication: 

Choose your primary form of communication wisely

 Poor communication planning can waste hours of your time. Figure out what your primary form of communication will be with your intern. Will you be using email, video calls, a messenger service, or all three? Each form has different advantages depending on what you want your intern to do.

For example, a messenger app like Slack may be better for remote interns that require a lot of correspondence. Email may be better for a more project-based intern, especially if your staff is too busy to answer small questions or they’re in a different time zone. Video calls are a nice tool for giving your internship a personal touch, especially if you want them to move into a client-facing role or meet with a manager.

Find creative ways to make your interns feel involved

Remote communication doesn’t have to be a limiting factor for your internship either. There are many ways you can use it to enhance the experience of your interns. For example, in an article for Harvard Business Review, Intel revealed some ways they virtually enhanced their interns’ experience:

“As a substitute for in-office “water cooler” conversations, we created a monthly speed networking activity, which allowed interns to reserve 15-minute sessions to meet with other interns and employees. We also gave interns opportunities to spend an hour with full-time employees for coffee and coaching on a more formal basis. Through this process, we enlisted 150 employees — from new college graduates to senior directors across nearly every business unit at Intel — to submit their bios for interns to review and choose which representative they’d like to chat with. This gave interns the ability to connect with employees based on how their background and work at Intel resonated with their interests and professional goals.”

Now, where to find your virtual intern? 

 Finding the right intern is just as important as planning the internship. f you spread a wide net on the internet to find interns, then you’ll have a lot of applications to search through for a candidate. 

Ideally, you should find a third-party service that can help you narrow down your options.

This is where we come in. We created Virtual Internships as that third-party service helping potential employers like you find highly skilled interns perfectly matched to your roles. Our team gathers interns from top universities and government programs worldwide and assesses their skills to provide the best fit for all of our partner businesses.

The best part? You can sign up and match with an intern with us completely free. We’ll even help you design the internship. All you need to do is fill out the form on our website with your company email, and we can walk you through everything you need to do to create a productive virtual internship this year at no charge to you.


 Finally, virtual internships aren’t just a win for your business, they’re a win for interns too.

 In an era where internships are seeming more like trial jobs with lower pay, many interns are starting to feel cautious about job offerings. Through a virtual internship, interns get the autonomy to try on a job and see if it fits without committing to a big move or a huge schedule change and commute. And businesses like yours can more easily reach out and provide much-needed mentorship to interns no matter how big or small you are.


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