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How Do You Measure Metrics In A Virtual Environment?

Yesterday, we told you about the new Virtual Student Internship Program (VSFS) at the State Department. The idea is simple, recruit hundreds of interns from across the country to give 10 hours a week virtually, to different programs at the State Department. So far the program has yielded some amazing results. College students have been able to bring their expertise to issues ranging from IT, social media and translation. Very helpful.

But measuring the success of a virtual internship program can be tricky, and metrics matter quite a bit in government. So how do you create metrics for a virtual internship program?

Bridget Roddy is the Virtual Student Foreign Service Manager at the State Department. She told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that there are two ways to measure success, numbers and anecdotes.

“We have the regular statistics, the numbers of projects and participants and those kinds of hard, firm numbers. We also rely a lot ancedotally, hearing from our supervisors and our members about what is working and what is not working. Back here in our office of eDiplomacy we don’t manage the work of all 505 students daily, but we do check in about three times over the course of the eight month internship. We survey our interns. We also ask their supervisors to give us a letter grade, those who have a C or below, we reach out and say what could have we done to make the experience better and more meaningful? 89% of the projects were successful. But these types of programs are hard to measure,” said Roddy.

Share the data

“We try to share internally with the State Department different reporting. We have weekly activity reports that sometimes go to the Secretary’s desk. We do open houses. We had a supervisor open house last year to thank supervisors for their contributions and the work that they have done. We also try to publicly, on our DipNote to have our students share their story. We are relying on both outside and inside channels to get the word out,” said Roddy.

Seek and find

“Traditional internships rely a lot on flyers or talking to students and now we can’t do it because we can’t afford to get all over the country. We now have to rely heavily on Twitter and Facebook. But then Pinterest comes up, there is always something new cropping up. We need to figure out where those conversations are happening and go there. Luckily we actually have a virtual intern working on VSFS. The other day we wanted to look at some of our Twitter metrics and find out how many followers we had in the last year, she named some analytics program I had never heard of. She knew a tool that could help, that is the strategy that we can bring to the State Department,” said Roddy.

Click here for part one of our interview with Roddy.

Interested in standing up a virtual internship program at your agency? I’d encourage you to reach out to GovLoop’s Director of Training and Development, Andrew Krzmarzick, who can help you with the process. Email ([email protected]) or call (202-352-1806) him and he’d be happy to talk more.

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Tricia Cooper

Our team is virtual, and continually builds a culture of accountability. We have twice weekly meetings (very short), where everyone takes the agile approach – 3 questions: What did you accomplish since we last met? What are you working on next? Do you have any blocks? Participants are required to contribute the answers to these questions right in the meeting agenda.

We take down action items and assign them, and notes are sent out immediately after the meetings. All of the information is kept in a central repository with reporting and metrics, so administrators or team leaders can see progress at any time. It works really well!

If interns are working only 10 hours a week, meetings would certainly be more infrequent, but checking in and building accountability into a virtual environment is crucial.