Many employers are afraid to hire interns for a virtual position because they feel like it’s almost impossible to effectively manage the interns and ensure they are giving you quality work. On the surface these challenges may seem legitimate, but the key to hiring interns for virtual positions is communication! Remember, virtual interns are just like normal interns, they are highly intelligent workers that just need a little guidance. Being able to effectively manage your virtual interns can make you a huge difference in how beneficial a virtual internship program is to both the intern and your small business.
Whether you are hiring virtual interns or normal interns, you should always be using a project management tool. A project management tool serves as a way to organize everything in one central place over the internet. By using a project management tool with a ticketing system, you never have to deal with the “I can’t find it” conversation and you will find it easier to track your intern’s progress. Most small businesses that we have encountered wouldn’t be able to exist without project management tools such as Google Docs, Basecamp, or Freshbooks.
Ok, so now you have all of your projects organized in one place, but that is only part of the picture. Unless you can hire an intern that is completely self sufficient and motivated, then you are going to need a way to monitor the intern’s daily progress. That is why we always have our virtual interns send us a daily email update. In this update, our interns tells us what they did and the results they got, some of the problems and challenges they faced, and any questions they have for us. This is great because it opens the communication lines between the small business owner and the virtual intern. We also have the intern include the number of hours they worked on that particular day and the cumulative hours they have worked on the internship so far. In addition to the project management tool tracking their work, this allows the intern to also track their own hours.
So now you are at the point where everything seems to be getting tracked and you have open communication lines. This sounds pretty good, but the final step of the process is a weekly conference call with your virtual intern. Written words can only say so much, that is why a live conversation is vital to bringing this all together. During these phone calls we encourage small business owners to not only give instructions and training, but also talk about general topics like sports or TV. This allows you to build a better relationship with your virtual intern and get to know them on a personal basis.
Every day small business owners are hiring interns for virtual positions. The main difference that separates successful virtual internship programs and failures is effective management techniques. If you look at the most successful virtual internship programs, they all revolve around clear and open communication lines. The best ways to accomplish open communication lines is to use a project management tool, require daily email updates, and have weekly conference calls. If you implement the strategies outlined above you can hire interns to help expand your small business today!