5 Genius Ways to take your virtual internship to the next level

9 Seasons and 208 EPISODES later..... 😵


Let me ask you something - have you ever watched a series you loved for YEARS only to HATE it after watching the finale?


If so - welcome to my feelings about How I Met Your Mother


FYI -- this feeling is described as the "peak-end-rule"


Just a fancy psychology term that means people basically judge an experience by its peak and its end rather than every moment


So - what does this have to do with your virtual internships?!? Summarizing a few key points from my conversations with Kristen Garbarino (Intern Program Manager at SAS), here's what you need to think about:


1️⃣ When you make people feel good, they are likely to love you back (Duh, right...?)


BUT a perfect example of something to think about is your executive lunch & learn series. Remind those leaders to keep it short AND keep it lighthearted


Yes, they're college students, but they're not aliens... They're humans and humans like to laugh

2️⃣ Good ol' "thank you" goes a long way


For many managers, this is their FIRST time managing an intern REMOTELY Do they know how to do it?


Do they know how to properly evaluate them and send them off properly?!


It's up to you to help them create a process to thank them and send them off the right way


The 5 Ways Are Discussed In The Video Tactical and Timely - ENJOY ✔️


Rishav Khanal 0:00

Everybody, welcome back to recruiting you where we really get strategic about campus recruiting. Super excited to have our guests on as we unveil the shiny new studio, Kristen. Welcome. Now before we get into the introductions, because I'm sure our listeners are kind of dying to hear a little bit about what you've got prepared and everything like that, we like to start off the podcast with a really irrelevant, dumb Fun fact, if you will. So the only word in the English language that ends in m - t is the word dreamt. A little fun fact. So as our listeners are kind of pondering on that, why don't you go ahead and give us a little bit of background into you? Why campus recruiting, and also share a little bit about something that your friends or colleagues would necessarily know about you.


Kristen Garbarino 0:54

Thanks so much for having me for having me. Rishav I'm excited to be here, hopefully share some insights. Kristen Garbarino currently intern program manager at SAS, our global headquarters is based in Cary, North Carolina, just outside of Raleigh, manage an intern program about 280 interns typically on an annual basis, and have been in kind of the HR college recruiting space for about nine years now. And when I think about my career, and the days that I've gotten super excited to get out of bed every morning is when I get to interact with students and connect them with their passions. meeting our interns on day one started the program and seeing them grow and develop is just so rewarding and phenomenal. So that's why I've been in this kind of industry and career. And a fun fact about me that maybe my colleagues or peers don't know. One time I went bungee jumping in the Swiss Alps. And it was awesome. I'm glad we were 450 feet up in the air on a gondola. cablecar over a lake and you jumped out. And it was absolutely the scariest thing I've ever done.


Highest Bungee Jump in the world: 216 meters: Bloukrans Bridge, Western Cape, South Africa


I don't think anyone could pay me to do it again. But really glad I took that opportunity.


Rishav Khanal 2:18

Dang, now I know that I don't know if you classify yourself as an adrenaline junkie, but I feel

your you're like, probably really amped as you touch ground. That's awesome. Um, so with that being said, let's get into it. Right. I think we're really excited in the scenario that I think a lot of recruiters right now are finding themselves in intern program managers is my boss came to me. Thankfully, we are still continuing on with our internship program. But he said, Rishav, I want you to take this thing virtual. And I'm like, Okay, sure. Kind of panicking on the inside, because I have no idea what to do. So what am I doing? How do I get this thing started to make sure that we're really creating an awesome internship program, but everything's got to be virtual now.


Kristen Garbarino 3:11

Great question.

It's interesting, you ask that that set it up that way, because that's kind of how I was feeling about five weeks ago, in March, when our company did decide, virtual is going to be the best option just due to the unknowns with COVID-19. So by all means, I do not have it all figured out. But the things I want to talk through would be, I think, best case scenario. And then maybe some options be, you know, different scenarios if you don't have those actions. And I'll share a little bit about what we've done with our intern program to when I think about starting out to collect some ideas to be able to present to your leadership team for recommendations, because ultimately, you're going to want to get their buy in on your plan is think about your network. So connecting with, you know, local companies in your geography, other companies in your industry. So it's time to kind of work that network and know that good brainstorming doesn't happen alone. I was really fortunate that we got a weekly call going with about 10 to 12 other organizations in the Raleigh Durham area that included some other tech companies, other industries. And we all just said, Hey, we're going through this together. What ideas are you guys moving forward on what's working for you, and have really kept a close network to share best practices, knowing that we're all going through the same thing and really have the same end goal is that we want to be able to move forward with our internships and make it a best in class experience virtually. So that would kind of be my recommendation for first step is doing that benchmarking.


There's also to just a lot of great research and other resources out there, kind of in the university recruiting space. We've been fortunate to be connected. With some research companies that have been doing surveys with students on a weekly basis getting a pulse from what anxieties do students have, what information do they need? What communications would be helpful for them throughout this time, so really understanding and what what the market surveys is saying. So finally, once you've kind of collected some facts and thoughts on your plan, next step is getting that buy in from your leadership and doing that as quickly as possible, right, so you can move forward with the plan and communicate the plan to students and managers. So developing that close partnership, whether it's with your HR leadership that really has oversight, you know, of the intern program, that's how it is in my company, but also to get invited from, you know, the business leaders that are actually going to have interns in their departments on their teams, and fully understanding with them. Can the project work actually be done virtually and successfully? Do we have all the resources and the right managers in place to enable these students to onboard virtually think about it, if you're in a manager, shoes, managers are at home, maybe they've got numerous kids at home, they're already trying to manage their teams virtually for the first time, do they feel like they can take on this student that they've never even met, and get them up to skill. So we kind of went through a review process to figure that out and determine that majority of our positions, you know, can be done virtually and so, so fortunate. I think not every company is going to be in that situation. And maybe, if that is the case, an alternative solution could be thinking about some educational training opportunities to offer to interns, maybe it's a eight week long project that interns could work on, and you've got a subset of managers that are willing to help with that kind of component of internship. So offering some type of alternative solution so that they still get an experience with your company, and they still get to learn and grow.


Rishav Khanal 7:03

Well, I was just gonna say, the first part, actually was like a pretty big surprise to me that like you gathered everybody together. And you know, we kind of think about competitors, right? In the business landscape. You're so right, everybody's going through the same thing. So be willing to kind of share some some ideas there. I mean, did the conversation flow itself naturally, because I envisioned for a company like us that's a little bit smaller, talking to a company, like yourself, where you're managing 280 interns, the scope of the problems, at least gut feeling tells me it's a lot different. But did you not find that to be the case when you're in the roundtable conversation? Yeah,


Kristen Garbarino 7:44

so we did sit down, I definitely can't take credit for this. My manager is so well connected in the area, she found herself just naturally reaching out to some of her peers and realized, okay, there's some opportunity to actually get on the call and kind of have a set agenda. So the kind of the committee did send out a survey to understand, okay, what points would be helpful to discuss on the call, so that we use our time effectively, we found that we were able, for the most part to share helpful information that was helpful for everyone. I think there's definitely some organizations on the call that were in different positions. For example, for whatever reason for security and it purposes, one company did share that and we're going to be able to deploy laptops. So they were looking at alternative solutions. For that if interns were going to be able to get the internship from there, you know, I would hardware PCs.


Half of the internships in the U.S. were canceled in the spring of 2020

Source: Forbes.com: Covid-19 And The Lost College Internship


Rishav Khanal 8:41

Man, that's you talking about pushing a boulder up a mountain, if you can't deploy laptops, and you gotta come up with something creatively, thankfully, we're not in that boat. Um, but it talking about the actual internship experience, right, I and I in, you know, we can talk about productivity. And I think, yes, there are going to be certain inherent challenges that come with that. But I also want to make sure that our interns have an amazing experience and all that special sauce that went into the company and, and rubbing shoulders with the people that you get to meet. I mean, this is a really vital time for a lot of students trying to enter the workforce for the first time. So like, how do you create a culture? Like what are some things that you and your team have kind of discussed to make sure that still remains intact?


Kristen Garbarino 9:26

Yeah, that's super important. And definitely, a lot of brainstorming is going into that. We're still getting that finalized. But a few things that we've got on the plan is getting the managers ready so going to facilitate some manager enablement and training sessions to help them think through what does good look like the first three or four weeks of the internship. That's things like going to ask them to connect daily with their new interns over the webcam, you know, making that connection, making sure the intern has either like a mentor or buddy really assigned to them. their experience. So those managers get busy. Someone else on the team that would be excited to invest time in developing the intern that can help build that connection and kind of launch their learning and their projects, help them with those technical problems. But then beyond that, I think week one is vital still hosts that orientation, we always kind of offer a half day in person orientation. So we really moved all of those guest speakers and content to be virtual. We use Microsoft Teams as our platform. But zoom is another great one out there, we're going to be using ms teams, day one, to invite different guest speakers and talk about what to expect for the duration internship tips on how to work virtually, but introducing them to the company, the culture, and kind of just knowing we're here to make this as awesome as we can. And we're going to make it interactive, the best of our ability. So really offering I think at least two kind of intern wide events per week is what has worked well for us in the past for in person. So taking a look at those in person events, which one can you switch to be virtual? What are some new ones that we haven't done in the past that could be virtual. So when I think about the social component, you know, building that network of peers and community and camaraderie, maybe it's some virtual yoga sessions, it's trivia or Jeopardy night, over ms teams. Maybe we do some team building things, you have a scavenger hunt in your house, and we're competing against each other. And then professional development activities. That's a huge part of our internship experience beyond just your day to day project work, we're able to offer things like doing an analysis on the disc profile. So kind of figuring out how you relate to others that can be done virtually. Also to we've got a session scheduled on things like navigating change, you're joining this company, virtually How do you adapt to this change, partnering with our LinkedIn and social media team on building out your professional brand on your LinkedIn profile, that can be done virtually. So I'm finding that a lot of the content I did have built out and sessions can go virtual, there are some that it won't be able to be done virtually, and just kind of have to be okay with some things are out of our control.


Rishav Khanal 12:25

In that's a fantastic point. I mean, because if I'm just thinking about it, if I can develop, you know, my interns to get their professional competencies skills, and really flex those muscles, they're still getting the value out of that internship experience. And if I can teach my managers and enable them to really facilitate that relationship, and then yeah, like, there are certain challenges that just go away from that. I mean, specifically from a content standpoint, because I'm moving there to like, I'm thinking about ways to really captivate an audience and deliver a lot of these trainings, virtually, what are some advices or tips that you've gotten, and to make sure that everybody stays engaged. So I don't want it to be super boring, and everybody just has their videos off. But I don't want to be telling people to, you know, turn their microphones off. If they're not talking every 15 minutes, I want it to be engaging.


Kristen Garbarino 13:17

Yeah, that's a great point. Because you could easily tap out right, you could turn your webcam off and not participate. so fortunate to have some really engaging guest speakers that we're going to have part of these sessions that are that are employees of the company. And I think limiting each session to 45 minutes over the webcam is the best practice that I've been researching. Often we get excited if you're a guest speaker, right, and you've got a lot of content developed. And you're like, Okay, I'm going for 60 minutes, but been doing some research that really after like 35-40 minutes, you start to lose people over the webcam, and it's so different being at your computer versus an in person session for a reason your mind is focused in a different way. So I think that's definitely one good tip. But then preparing your guest speakers, whatever session they're presenting on, to let them know, we want to make this fun and light. And this is a group of college students. So come up with some creative ways to get them engaged on their webcams, doing q&a and having them participate. I know that zoom has some like breakout chat sessions that you can use. So that would be a cool way to do some group activities, even within a larger session.


Rishav Khanal 14:32

Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, I think you can like have individual people or like, you know, groups of smaller cohorts go into their own rooms discuss and then come back as well. Um, so I kind of want to make sure I haven't missed anything yet so far, because there's a lot of good stuff. So first, which I didn't even think about is gathering a group of local, you know, companies kind of in my area to discuss best practices, and then talking to my leadership team to really get the buy in of making sure all the leads Just takes on the housekeeping items are set for those interns to be successful. And then there's a smaller subset of that, what it seems like to have managers and really enable those managers to make sure that they're giving those interns or at least you know, what they think is of great experience. And then for the interns, make sure that you are also enabling them by building out content related to professional development skills, giving them and assigning them a buddy that they can go to, that's not their manager, right, so they can have that informal relationship. And then I believe you mentioned, like having, like, virtual sessions, so that you can help them navigate through change kind of pieces and ties into that content as well. And then making sure for the content in order to be engaging, limited to about 45 minutes, because you start to lose people after after that time. And I think we've all you know, been guilty of that, and create some engaging speakers and keep it light hearted. So I've got lots of work to do anything that I might have missed from point A to present point z, maybe where we are,


Kristen Garbarino 16:04

I think the final thing is thinking through intern programs are a pipeline to full time opportunities. So making sure there's still that opportunity for managers to effectively evaluate performance, and make decisions about full time offers for those that are going into their senior year. So making sure managers feel like they can really evaluate them with that virtual relationship. How do you get creative on that? I think one component that we're going to incorporate is making sure final presentations can still happen. And that might be a smaller group that they're presenting to. But that's a huge component of that evaluation pieces that into the summer delivery of of results.


Rishav Khanal 16:44

And I'm also thinking, as you said, that is I have to now think about my interns, and teaching them and enabling them to deliver virtual presentations, because it might be a little bit different than doing it in person. But that is an excellent point is to somehow go back to my managers and give them the space and the opportunity to still evaluate the intern. Because you're right, that's there's a reason why an internship program exists. And the crux of it, I mean, experience and all the side it is the pipeline for future talent makes sense. Like I said, I've got lots of work to do. It seems like lots of recruiters everybody's in the same boat. I think something that you open my eyes towards is exactly that point. Everybody is kind of now because of this, this pandemic situation, more or less in the same setting. So relying on our counterparts, relying on these people to brainstorm and go to advice, something I'm gonna hold myself accountable to do more. But thank you again for coming on. This is a lot of fun. I had lots of takeaways, lots of things to do, but anything else otherwise I think we're good to go.


Kristen Garbarino 17:47

I think you got it all Rishav.


We've got a lot to do over the next month, but I'm excited excited for the challenge and I think you're gonna be great. Awesome.


Connect with Kristen HERE


Rishav Khanal 17:55

Thank you. All right.





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