4.1 Before the internship

4.1.1 Find the right intern

Diversity is an important point to consider. In many young people there is a lot of interest and openness towards learning new things, even if they have no previous experience in the area. In general, the job advertisement should address a diverse audience, so that the company then receives a variety of applications. Such a broad spectrum of inputs and perspectives can be extremely benefitial. The difficulty is to show for example female interns that IT is not only something for stereotypical "nerds", but that there is much more to it. Girls traditionally tend to go into social and creative professions. So you have to show that as a developer you can offer both social and creative aspects as well.

4.1.2 Determine the right period

A remote internship can be especially good for those who already have experience in the field or in remote work. However, there are interns who still find it difficult to work independently. In such case, there should be good onboarding, adapted to the individual learning pace of the intern so that they are not overwhelmed. Onboarding should be taken seriously, perhaps at the same time as other new staff/interns start, so that you feel part of the company. If there are no other interns, of course, give special consideration to the intern, as they are not permanent employees but mainly interested in learning.

4.1.3 Tips on the application process and important legal and social information

There are 27 different training systems in the European Union, which were analyzed and categorized in the working paper 1 (22/2014) of the European Center for the Promotion of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). The paper found that the training systems can be divided into four different clusters.

The four groups of training systems in Europe:
  • Group 1: Countries with learning units/ training modules and a credit point system, e.g. Spain, Ireland, Luxembourg, Romania
  • Group 2: Countries with learning units/ training modules and no credit point system, e.g. France, Poland, the Netherlands
  • Group 3: Countries without learning units/ training modules and predominantly dual /company-based initial training,
    e.g. Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein
  • Group 4: Countries without learning units/ training modules and predominantly full-time school-based initial vocational training,
    e.g. Czech Republic, Greece, Lithuania

The differences between the various training systems can give a company an insight into how extensive the competencies acquired are and what can be expected of an intern. In addition, it can provide information about whether an intern: has more theoretical or practical experience and can therefore estimate which tasks can be entrusted to them.

When working with the interns, it is advisable to draw up a checklist before the internship begins so that everyone involved knows what to expect and when.

There should be a partnership agreement in which the mobility partners agree on what the interns should learn. It should be divided in learning units and the possibilities of assessing the learning outcomes stipulated. For example, a small project of your own could be made here. If the interns come from the dual system, i.e. they are in dual training, the internship can be included directly in the training contract

Furthermore, a learning agreement should be made between mobility partners and the interns; this is signed by all those involved. The intern documents their activities and the acquisition of skills.It is important that in a company that accepts an intern, a mentor/ supervisor provides who takes care of the learner.

This person has a variety of important functions and thus contributes to the success of the remote internship:
  • Presentation of the individual departments or colleagues.
  • Make sure that the learning objectives and their content are adhered to.
  • Accessibility also outside of team meetings.
  • If desired, consultation with the teaching staff of the school / sending company.
  • Deciding which projects / tasks the intern can be trusted with.

  • For a blended remote internship, it is also important that the presence phase(s) are well coordinated. For example, if a company works predominantly remotely, the intern should also work remotely.

  • When presential meetings take place, the interns should also attend personally. If the teams only meet sporadically in person, it is important that you help the intern with the transfer and accommodation.

  • If a company has a physical office in one place, it should be clarified whether the intern can get into their own desk in the office or whether the internship is more of a rotative one. As a result, a stay abroad can be planned.

  • If the internship is intended more in the sense of a job rotation, then it must be planned exactly in which team the intern is at which point of the internship and which part takes place remotely and which part takes place onsite.

  • If there are longer or regular presence phases because the team does not work 100% remotely, the intern should think about setting up their own workstation in the office.

4.1.4 Questions about accommodation in the face-to-face phase

The question of accommodation begins with the age of the participants. Minors should preferably be accommodated by host families, to better assist their integration as well as to keep an eye on them. Adults usually opt for shared apartments or holiday apartments. Many destinations have providers who offer such accomodations: In Madrid e.g. AirbnB, Accommadrid, Citylife, Aluni.net, PYR solutions, Madrid easy. When choosing an apartment, the internship company should definitely grant any help necessary. As already mentioned, accommodation should either be considered for the entire period of the internship or only for the attendance phases.

If an intern decides to spend a partially remote internship in its entirety at the destination, it should be ensured that the integration into the team takes place, as a young person in another country without daily contact to colleagues can quickly become frustrated and lonely.

This, however, depends on the company culture: Are there also meetings outside of work? Can you work flexibly from home and from the office? If there are only occasional meetings in the team and most of the work takes place remotely, the accommodation should be more of a short term, e.g. in a hotel / Airbnb. If other employees also travel from further away, one could try to find accommodation close to them. 

4.1.5 Questions about the requirements for remote work Technical requirements

In the age of mobile phones, it can be assumed that the technical skills of children and young people in dealing with mobile phones, tablets and computers are generally high. The younger generation is way ahead of the older one, especially when it comes to the use of collaboration and social media tools. The internship provider should be aware of this in the first interview. The question of the technical requirement also depends on the area of ​​application in the IT company. In project management, it is the use of communication and organizational programs. In the front-end development, it is already below the user interface. Until the programming of the machine is the focus of backend development. In any case, the intern needs suitable computer and software equipment.

Growing up playing video games might have inspired some people to learn how to program and thus realize their own game ideas.

The question of the specific technical requirements depends individually on the area of ​​application of the company and on its technical system. 

Clarify in advance which tools are already known in your digital infrastructure and give the interns access to the tools as quickly as possible so that they can familiarize themselves with them. Soft skills in remote work

Affinity for IT and previous knowledge of open source among students can be an advantage. An interest-test can help here.

  • COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Team meetings every week or fortnight and “daily stand-ups” several times a week are just as important in remote internships as smaller meetings at roadblocks. The intern must also be able to talk openly about problems so that they do not get stuck and thus get frustrated. An open error culture is common practice in open source.
  • INDEPENDENCE: It is important to create an understanding, encouraging environment in which interns feel comfortable and learn how best to organize themselves and manage tasks in a home office.
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE: Between the daily stand-ups or the weekly remote meetings, interns need to manage their own time to work and stick to their plan.

"It takes communication skills and also a bit of discipline. Holding a meeting every week or twice a week at the same time. And in between there has to be a lot of communication, punctuality and a certain amount of self-discipline are important for all of that. You have to end each day with a check "What I did today" because then it is clear that something happened. Of course, something can always go wrong, but you should communicate that directly." -Paul Roeland

Depending on the internship, accompanying e-learning / blended learning is generally a good option. With e-learning facts about work processes can be explained and discussed. However, when it comes to more comprehensive processes, blended learning is more promising. Is it now only about technical knowledge or is it about concrete skills and ability? 

4.1.6 Cultural and linguistic adaptation.

English should be the minimum requirement for anyone wanting to do an internship abroad. But English is not spoken in all countries. When looking for an internship, you should research in which companies English is used as a second language. Mostly these are companies that are active in the international market. Cultural research is very helpful as preparation for the internship in the destination. In addition to bureaucratic matters such as insurance, contracts, learning unit agreements, travel preparation, accommodation, etc., information about people, life, work and cultural characteristics (or differences) should also be offered. Erasmus + only offers linguistic adaptation through its online tools. Support for a language course on site can have a maximum budget of 100 €.

4.2 Meanwhile

4.2.1 Welcome, introduction to the company

At the beginning of a remote internship, the first day should serve as an introduction and getting-to-know day. Here, all contact persons and the company are briefly introduced. In the next step, the main people responsible for the internship should explain the exact procedure and explain the individual tasks. It is a good idea to clarify any unanswered questions right at the beginning of the internship and to give the intern the feeling that they are being well looked after right from the start. After the introductory and getting-to-know-you day, the internship should start in terms of content. Here it is important to signal to the intern that they are in a valued and respectful environment and need not be afraid to ask questions.

4.2.2 Information about the work processes

The remote work process and the digital infrastructure are essential for a remote business. The process and the digital tools are no different than elsewhere, but they are used much more intensively. The remote work process is more demanding and timed at short notice with online meetings for planning, management, controlling, reviews and retros. The digital infrastructure is far more extensive. It is therefore very important to introduce the interns well to the process and to instruct them in the use of the digital infrastructure.

  • When the company has documented its work process, give it to your interns to read in advance.
  • If your company already has an onboarding process for new employees, use this and refine it for the internship.
  • If your senior partners have regular personal conversations with the individual employees, use this opportunity for your interns every two to three days.
  • If this is not used in your remote company, you should definitely think about it for team building in your company.

4.2.3 Maintaining motivation- Accompanying feedback

Feedback is very important. The more remote work the more feedback conversations. Criticism from the intern can also help improve the internship program for the future. As a mentor you need to manage expectations of all the colleagues. What is the intern able to do? What not, where do they need help? What can they do alone? Which tasks can they master independently?

It is important that the intern not only sees their own tasks but rather sees the whole of the company. That is why the company should actively work on overcoming the boundaries between colleagues and interns so that the intern has the chance to have a good look at the company.
  • How do I address whom?
  • What is the dynamic of the team?
  • How do I talk to customers?
  • Can I take part in a customer meeting?

4.3 Afterwards

4.3.1 Final Interview

At the end of the internship, it is important to have a final reflective interview with the intern. At this point it is essential to reflect on the internship in general and especially on the learning effect of the intern. For the further personal as well as professional development of the intern, space to express themselves freely in order to generate as much self-reflection as possible and to receive honest feedback is necessary. On the part of the receiving institution, the extensive feedback and the personal experiences of the intern will allow them to develop and improve their competencies.

4.3.2 Certificate and/ or internship certificate

After the trainee has completed their internship in the framework of an Erasmus+ mobility, they has the possibility to receive a Europass Mobility certificate. This is a document in the framework of Erasmus+ KA1 to officially document and have recognized the acquired experience, achievements and skills. This is completed by the sending as well as the receiving institution at the same time. If the trainee wants to receive the Europass Mobility as a recognition of achievement, they must ask the sending partner (e.g. the school or institution organizing your traineeship) to register with the National Europass Center in your country. After that, the sending and the receiving organization have to fill in all the relevant documents. Afterwards, the trainee will receive the certificate in digital format.

4.4 An internship abroad as part of Erasmus+

Completing an internship abroad as part of Erasmus+ provides many positive experiences that can have a lasting impact on further professional training. The trainee has the opportunity to network on the European labor market, create a uniform and EU-recognized CV and exchange information with other job applicants through various Erasmus+ support portals (Europass.eu, Eurodesk.eu, Eures.eu). With these tools, the applicants can apply with their skills, interests and knowledge, simplified in different EU associated countries. Besides, there are other advantages of using these tools, by simplifying the general search for training offers and qualifications. Personalized offers are suggested to the trainee and there are unified digital tools to present oneself in the best possible way with one's qualifications. There are also articles, reports and news about learning and working in the EU.