What We Gained From Transitioning to a Remote Internship Program

What We Gained From Transitioning to a Remote Internship Program

By Alyssa Zinar

The pandemic came in like a wrecking ball, leaving cancellation after cancellation in its wake. Ever since, some of life’s biggest and brightest moments have been reduced to 40 minute free Zoom calls and livestreams.

While COVID-19 has caused varied levels of despair and disappointment for all, students take home the prize for the most affected in terms of major moments lost to the pandemic. On top of the coming-of-age moments like graduations, college students lost out on professional opportunities, too. Dream jobs and internships offers were rescinded due to layoffs and furloughs. As Devine + Partners internship director, I was gutted at the possibility that we could be another item added to someone’s 2020 disappointment list.  

For many companies, transitioning to remote internships over the summer was a no brainer. Large corporations had the infrastructure in place to carry out a remote program easily. However, as a boutique public relations agency with a full-time staff of seven, creating a remote internship program while also transitioning ourselves to a new digital setting comes with additional challenges. We could have thrown the towel and cancelled our program, but as a recent graduate, I know the value of the experienced gained from an internship. And as an employee who has been a part of our company’s hiring process, I know the difference internship experience makes when hiring for entry-level positions.

We decided to transition our program to a remote internship this summer, and here’s why I’m glad we did:

Our virtual opportunity opened the door for more applicants than ever before.

This summer we saw a major spike in interested candidates – our typical candidate pool nearly doubled. By removing the need to be within traveling distance of our Center City office, we were able to open our program to people outside the city and even the state. We actually ended up hiring a summer intern from Virginia and a fall intern from out past Allentown.  

Remote work breaks down the traditional office divides.

Our small team has always been more accessible than most companies, with leadership at an arm’s reach, but in our online environment, our interns have gained an even greater access to the entire team. Over Zoom, we all see each other through the same screen, rather than cubicles and offices creating a richer experience for all involved.

Intern productivity has increased.

Initially, my biggest fear in managing remote interns was that I wouldn’t be able to monitor them effectively to ensure they were completing the work and not just watching Netflix. However, I have been pleasantly surprised. As many professionals have come to learn, working from comfortable home environments has actually increased productivity. We’ve found that our interns are tackling tasks at a record speed while retaining excellent quality. Our summer and fall interns have had articles published in client’s newsletters, designed graphics that were at the forefront of a multi-month engagement campaign, produced video content for D+P’s owned channels, developed presentations, created media pitches for clients and much more.

If your company is thinking about reinstating your internship program as a remote internship or looking to start their first intern opportunity, I urge you to take on the challenge. Don’t sell students short, this opportunity means more to them then you may even realize.

And as the holiday season is nearly upon us, Devine + Partners is getting ready to open applications for our spring internship program. If you are or know of a current college student interested in public relations and/or communications, send them our way! Interested applicants can learn more about our program and apply now here.

Alyssa Zinar

Alyssa Zinar

In her role as Associate Vice President and Senior Digital News Producer, Alyssa provides client strategy and support, manages social media pages, and engages in media outreach, strategic communications, event planning, in-depth research and video content creation.