Barbara Goldberg
Barbara Goldberg

Summer interns provide fresh perspectives, social media savvy and much needed client assistance. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has PR leaders and communications students scrambling this month to determine whether remote internships are a realistic possibility. My opinion: absolutely. Even with social distancing, internships still provide win-win opportunities.

Here are some factors to consider:

• A Wider Talent Pool—Our South Florida-based agency benefits from attracting college students across the state’s university system. Still, we sometimes struggle with interns not wanting to fight the region’s rush hour traffic. Not this summer! Last month, we expanded our search and secured two top-level interns. It’s not too late. Reach out to college advisors and post internship opportunities on your social media platforms.

• Virtually a Breeze for Students—Gen Z students are digital natives.  As agencies are presented with new platforms, technology and systems that alter the way we work – especially in the wake of the pandemic—remote interns can adapt in milliseconds. They are likely already accustomed to project management online, digital meeting apps and other efficient tools. No learning curve here—they will be great leaders in bringing your agency tech levels up a notch,  even remotely.            

• New Reality—We are in a pivotal time for both our society and economy, with a shift in collective consciousness taking place regarding both how and where we work. How this will shape the future of the workforce remains to be seen amongst the current, unprecedented circumstances. By readying your business with a digital infrastructure that supports remote interns and remote work in general, you will be in line with the new normal.  

Of course, there are challenges associated with remote interns. None are insurmountable, and most can be handled with a few, simple adjustments.

A daily check-in call or video chat is essential. Simple management tactics like frequent check-ins supported by enhanced, remote supervision and support from leadership have allowed our transition to run seamlessly. The result? We now have two interns with a fresh outlook on the digital ecosystem, and in turn we have been able to help them build their resumes in a time when doing so can be extremely difficult for any student.

We are fortunate to live in the digital age, and to enjoy all of the conveniences that come with it. Business owners should use this to their advantage when considering summer interns and adopt an open-minded approach. New talent can still be cultivated and grown in the digital ecosystem, and doing so can provide a wealth of benefits to any business.

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Barbara Goldberg is CEO & founding partner at O'Connell & Goldberg.