Rev1 Ventures Shares Tips On How Startups Can Win with Virtual Internships

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Leading Columbus Startup Studio Pairs Students with Businesses for Summer 2020

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"In this current business climate, companies need to look at all avenues for growth, and offering opportunities to these students leads to collaboration that can move companies forward, while developing the next wave of entrepreneurs."

In the face of continued economic uncertainty, Rev1 Ventures, the startup studio that combines capital and strategic services, is sharing successes and lessons learned from its newly launched Innovation Internship Program. This summer, 40 college students and recent grads were placed as virtual interns supporting Rev1’s startup clients, giving young people a chance to get their feet wet with startups. With grant support from the Ohio Third Frontier, Rev1 launched the Innovation Internship Program to its portfolio of entrepreneurs in March, in hopes of providing a spark of young talent to its clients, while fostering interest in the Midwest startup scene among nascent professionals.

“In this current business climate, companies need to look at all avenues for growth, and offering opportunities to these students leads to collaboration that can move companies forward, while developing the next wave of entrepreneurs,” said Dionnica Gaston, Director of Talent, Rev1 Ventures. “Our goal out of the gate this year was to establish a strong program known for the quality of its instruction, hands-on experience and unmatched networking connections, all while ensuring the effectiveness of a virtual program.”

The foundation of Rev1’s program is to create valuable work experiences while fostering pathways into entrepreneurship. Interns report to senior leadership teams in industries ranging from IT to BioSciences to AgTech. The program’s comprehensive scope ranges from interviewing, hiring and onboarding tutorials for startups to intern workshops covering networking, career assessment and finding a mentor. As a result, Rev1 Ventures has gathered valuable understanding of best practices and tips for entrepreneurs running an internship program:

1.    Invest the Time. Great reward comes from much effort. Companies must be willing to devote significant time to building and maintaining an internship program. Unlike professional hires, most college interns are unaccustomed to a corporate position. They require more hands-on management from end-to-end. Set aside recurring meetings between senior leadership and interns to review work and brainstorm ideas for projects beneficial to the company. Use this opportunity to teach, lead, and model.

2.    Consider Going Virtual: During a time when many internship programs are being cut, Rev1 accelerated efforts to place young talent with startups by leveraging a virtual program. While a virtual work environment is now commonplace, the flexibility (and safety) of this structure enables companies to recruit internship candidates from anywhere. It can also help teams learn ways to maximize the capabilities of remote working since young people often bring new ideas for the latest tools that can be used. That said, going virtual requires more preparation and connectivity to bridge the gap.

3.    Chart the Course Early. Nothing is worse than scurrying for an assignment once the intern is onsite. Not only is it awkward for the intern who is there to work, but most importantly, it is a waste of resources, both professional time and budget. Before interns arrive, set aside engaging and useful projects for them to accomplish. Make sure there are multiple assignments that utilize a variety of skills. Ideally, interns will have completed a portfolio of work at the end of the summer.

4.    Over Communicate… No, Really. Communication has never been so crucial as the current situation in which so many are working from home and will continue to do so. Defined expectations, processes and deliverables create a pathway to greater results. Be available to answer questions that arise. Establish the best ways to interact with interns: email, face-to-face, text, phone, or Slack and be open to modifying your preferences. Schedule frequent touchpoints to keep each intern engaged. Monitor progress and provide praise as well as feedback for growth.

5.    Listen and Learn. Summer is short, so building a relationship quickly makes a difference. Find out what interests them in the work and non-work worlds. Ask interns for opinions on big questions facing the company; most of them are likely to be members of Gen Z, a crucial segment from everything from purchasing power to election swings. They’re the leaders of tomorrow - don’t waste their valuable insights.

6.    Evaluate and Improve. At the end of the program be sure to gather 360 degree feedback from both interns and their managers. Gen Z is known as a group whose opinions are driving the future. Their fresh ideas may provide perspective that those too close to a business may not see. Plus honest reflection gives companies a way to determine whether internship programs are a good fit and, if so, how they can be perfected year after year.

Internship programs can be a springboard for both young professionals and the companies that hire them. Rev1’s portfolio has already seen tremendous benefit from the program. “As we navigate the ever-changing business climate right now, it is hugely beneficial to have eager students on board to support our needs,” said Jeff Schumann, CEO of Aware, a security intelligence platform. “Our interns have already made an impact and we see this as a win-win for both of us.”

For more information, visit http://www.rev1ventures.com.

About Rev1 Ventures
Rev1 Ventures is the startup studio that combines capital and strategic services to help startups scale and corporates innovate. Based in the Midwest, and in the number one city for scaling startups, Rev1 aligns innovators and founders with corporate and research partners to access customers and markets, helping entrepreneurs build great companies. With a proven track record of identifying, guiding, and investing in high potential startups, Rev1 helps companies solve real problems for markets in need of real solutions. Rev1 has $100MM in capital under management, providing a capital continuum from corporate and community partners, as well as the Ohio Third Frontier. Rev1 is the most active seed investor in Ohio for the past six years, according to PitchBook. For more information, visit http://www.rev1ventures.com.

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