How to Successfully Run a Remote Internship Program: Hirewell Panel Recap

Drew Whitehurst | June 19, 2020

"Over 50% of college graduates quit their first job before the one year mark" pull quote

On June 9, 2020 Hirewell hosted a panel of experts, including our very own Esteban Gomez, (Digital Marketing Program Manager, interviewstream) to discuss how companies are managing fully remote internship programs. In case you missed it, we put together some highlights from the discussion for those of you navigating through your remote internship programs.


Internships are a vital talent pipeline for companies but the current state of our world has put many businesses in a position in which they are struggling to run successful remote internship programs. Many companies have cancelled their summer interns altogether, some for financial reasons and some for lack of know-how. 

Internship programs have a powerful impact on young professionals and hold a great deal of value for both the intern and the company. For one, employee retention is a challenge all companies face. Over 50% of college graduates quit their first job before the one year mark, however, returning interns have a 25% higher retention rate. These programs allow companies to snag the top talent early on and build a relationship in which both parties know exactly what they are signing on for.

Best Practices for Running a Remote Internship Program

Running a fully remote internship program holds its own set of operational challenges however with a few tweaks and some strategic thinking, success is possible. When the panel sat down to chat, they shared some fantastic tips they’re currently using to run their successful remote programs.

Tip #1: Create Structure. From day one, solidify interns’ goals and objectives and be clear when setting and managing expectations. Make a list of their projects and communicate it with them. Set hours when they need to be online and engaged, yet flexible knowing that eight straight hours of remote intern work probably is not realistic right now. Have interns block out their calendars for their lunch run, afternoon dog walk, etc. Leave no grey areas in order to take out the element of interns not knowing what you want from them.

Tip #2: Immerse Them in Learning Opportunities. Provide your interns with the resources to be successful. It starts with simply getting them set up remotely, and providing them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the tools. Invite them to participate in some video calls with other management. Team them up with a peer mentor and a coach. Tie the opportunities back to their own careers and goals because, after all, these experiences will provide them the knowledge they will take with them into their first job.

Tip #3: Incorporate Company Culture. Incorporating as much company culture as you can is even more important when working fully remotely. There are so many creative ways to get them involved. Include them in virtual happy hours, leadership breakfasts, book clubs, movie nights, trivia contests, scavenger hunts, etc. This not only allows interns to get a feel for your company and team, but gives them the opportunity to build camaraderie with one another.

Wrap Up

Don’t give up on your internship programs! Although they may look a bit differently in our current world, internships still hold tremendous value for all parties involved. The interviewstream team can also help you out with interviewing them in a remote environment- so don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

If finances are a factor, give interns a one week project and something to put on their resumes.  If you are finding it challenging to run your program virtually, reach out to others leading the way for these programs and do your research. Internship programs build a foundation for young professionals and can shape your reputation and your ability to attract young future rockstars. As our very own Esteban Gomez noted, “Don’t be afraid to try new things with a virtual internship program!” After all, if you don’t try, you miss the opportunity.

Thank you to Elise Gelwicks, Founder of Eleview, Valerie Robbins, Employer Relations Coordinator at Columbia College, Esteban Gomez, Digital Marketing Program Manager at interviewstream and Janae Allen, Campus Recruiting Coordinator at Huron Consulting Group for sharing your insights on running a successful remote internship program. And finally, thank you  to Hirewell for hosting a great LinkedInLive Chat that we were happy to join!

About The Author

Drew Whitehurst is the Director of Marketing at interviewstream. He's been with the company since 2014 working in client services and marketing. He is an analytical thinker, coffee enthusiast, and hobbyist at heart.


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