Translating an internship to remote or virtual settings proces to be one of the more straightforward of all the Work-Based Learning activities, as long as the activity and tasks of the internship can be completed remotely. While internships are generally conducted in the workplace or with a partner organization, in some cases interns may engage in an internship remotely and connect to their internship host and team members electronically via telephone, Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams or some other technology. There are also virtual simulations available where a learner can select a particular career or occupation, conduct online research and then address and complete one or more mock work assignments for review by a teacher or connector.
Remote Internship Options
Remember, remote activities promote “live” learner contact with adult professionals and front-line workers via the use of technology.
In a remote internship, a learner is engaged in his or her internship remotely. Many industries and employer partners have recently shifted to a model where their employees work from home-based settings. Most of these employers have established protocols, communications systems and supports to ensure that work is productive, employees are engaged and connected to each other. These same protocols apply to interns who are completing their internship from home.
Creating A Remote Internship
To design an effective and meaningful virtual internship, look to what has been successful for in-person internships with your industry partners or your organization. The first step is identifying projects that are appropriate for remote interns, such as those appropriate for an entry-level worker, that require minimal oversight. Consider the age, academic status, and skill set of your interns. Projects assigned to the interns should have clear and attainable goals. Informing interns of the connections between their projects and how they contribute to the organization can provide students an invaluable perspective
Remote Internships Should Include
- Orientation and onboarding training for learners and employers to discuss standards and alignment for work in a remote learning environment.
- Clear expectations and protocol around communication between the employer, the learner, and the work-based learning connector.
- Outlined check ins including a regularly scheduled one-on-one with a supervisor, teacher, and learner; one-on-one with the teacher; and specific learning objectives that yield a culminating internship presentation.
- Secure online structure of employer and teacher support.
- Combination of employer-defined projects and selected upskilling opportunities as part of the learner’s WBL plan.
- Adherence to district policy guidelines with respect to remote learning and work-based learning.
Communications Standards for Remote Internships
- A reliable and secure virtual platform should be used for all remote communications (meeting, calls, etc.) with learners including Face Time, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and/or Zoom platforms.
- Online conferences and/or meetings are intended for instructional purposes only and should only occur in non-school hours during the learners scheduled work time.
- All parties are encouraged to adopt a virtual background or blur their background for all video calls.
- When appropriate, include the learner’s teacher and/or Work Based Learning connector on all calendar invites and meeting requests so that they may be allowed to join to support learners and/or view learners in their “working environment”.
Steps to Success
- Review the Internship Guide.
- Distribute and review checklists and tip sheets to all parties.
- Recruit Internship hosts or work with existing Internship sponsors to design and implement remote internship experiences.
- Pair learners with appropriate internship opportunities. Facilitate learner choice and preference.
- Arrange interviews with Internship Host, who selects the intern via an online interview.
- Create an individualized WBL plan Internship host, WBL COnne3ctor and Intern.
- Teacher Supports the internship, the work-based learning plan, and checks in with the Intern and host regularly.
- Ensure equity in learner access to technology to effectively participate in the internship.
- Help learners think about time management and how to focus on tasks when participating in a remote internship.
- Consider school policy relayed to online interactions.
Virtual Internship Options
Remember, virtual activities are generally simulations and provide learners with employer exposures through recordings, on-line research and classroom activities.
Virtual Internships are simulations where a learner or group of learners can select a particular career or occupation, conduct online research and then address and complete one or more mock assignments for review by a teacher or WBL connector.