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Tech Report  July 1, 2021

Designing Virtual Internships in STEM Fields: Innovations and Lessons Learned from Summer 2020

SRI Authors Kea Anderson, Carol E. Tate, Victoria E. Sosina, Elise Levin-Guracar, Emnet Shibre



Anderson, K., Tate, C., Sosina, V., Ortiz, C., Levin-Guracar, E., Shibre, E. (2021). Designing virtual internships in STEM fields: Innovations and lessons learned from summer 2020. SRI International.


In spring 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, some intrepid employers quickly converted internships to virtual experiences rather than canceling them. SRI’s STEM Core Expansion Alliance evaluation team took advantage of this unprecedented growth in remote internships in STEM fields to capture innovations and lessons learned from these improvised programs.

SRI investigated employers’ strategies for recruiting, mentoring, and supporting remote interns. The team examined whether and how students used employer supports and what they gained from networking and professional learning opportunities in the virtual context. SRI paid particular attention to strategies for making virtual internships more accessible and equitable for all students and for diversifying intern cohorts.

The team used results from surveys of and interviews with employers and interns to develop guidance for employers. The resulting report offers a rich, cross-sector look at what STEM employers learned from their experiences and clearly conveys how they can improve their virtual internship programs in the future.

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