What virtual activities do organizations conduct to effectively engage interns with one another or with the overall company culture? Members of the NACE Community reported success by facilitating connections between interns, involving members of the leadership team, and more. Here are some of their ideas:
Create a space for interns to connect—Although employers offered virtual programming last summer, one campus program manager reported that her organization received feedback from its interns at the end of the summer that they wished they had more informal opportunities to network through, for instance, “a Webex set up for them to hang out.”
Offer regular organized activities—Offering regular activities keeps interns engaged with the organization, which is crucial, especially in a virtual environment. Some organized activities respondents said their organizations regularly offered to their interns throughout the summer were lessons from leaders, virtual water cooler/coffee chats (where the company provided topics for informal conversations), trivia, book clubs, step challenges, “dress for success” sessions, and more. Another popular activity was “Lunch and Learns,” with one respondent’s company calling them “Food for Thought,” since its interns were located across the country and, thus, they weren’t held at lunchtime for everyone. Another respondent reported success with a combination of formats: biweekly intern-only events with more formal scheduling and biweekly intern-only informal chats or “drop-ins.”
Involve your organization’s leaders—Interns appreciate the opportunity to hear from and connect with the organization’s leaders. Several respondents pointed out that it is easier for senior leaders to find time to participate in the virtual environment than when events with interns were held in person. For instance, one said her organization went from three sessions for interns that included company executives in 2019 to 11 in 2020.
Make the connections stronger—One organization identified one or two employee alums from the schools the interns were going to and have them reach out to the intern a few times during their internship. The goal was to help the interns meet employees outside of their immediate work teams; these are the kinds of connections that would normally occur organically if one was working with others in person. This was done in addition to assigning each intern a buddy. Another invited senior vice presidents and alumni to its intern hangouts, and held Q&A sessions and played a Jeopardy-type game, with questions that included fun facts about the company and prizes for the winning team. For another employer’s end-of-summer activity, it brought in a company that specializes in conducting virtual team events and challenged interns to solve a mystery together.
Do you have ideas to share for conducting effective virtual activities for interns? Join the discussion in the NACE Community.