Intern Policies

 

 

6 Operating Policies Your Nonprofit Must Have - Foundation Group®

 

Due to our virtual environment, clear and consistent communication is key and imperative for a productive work atmosphere.

This internship is about reaching out, asking questions, showing initiative, and demonstrating the motivation to get work done. Interns are encouraged to ask questions if they are uncertain about what they are supposed to be doing or are confused about a project.

Interns should not wait to be assigned projects. Interns are expected to communicate with their respective leadership members and with their fellow interns on a regular basis. This internship program is what an intern makes of it!

Note: Newly onboarded Interns are NOT required to meet the 10-hour work requirement nor are they required to submit a Weekly Report within 14 days of being onboarded into the internship as the Intern’s primary focus should be settling into Slack, learning how to use Trello, and becoming familiar with both DME leadership and the various DME departments.

Primary Sources of Contact: If Interns have any questions and/or concerns, they should always contact their DO(s) first. If the DO(s) is/are unavailable, then Interns should contact their DH(s). If both the DO(s) and DH(s) are unavailable, which is sometimes the case during holidays or final exam season, then Interns should contact their ELT(s).

DO(s) are responsible for relaying information to DH(s). DH(s) are responsible for relaying information to ELT(s). ELT(s) are responsible for relaying information to XO(s) and/or the Internship Program Manager. It is imperative that Interns and Leadership Interns respect this chain of command.

Note: There is not always a DO in every department. In this case, contact your DH first.

Display Name Policy

Please use the following format when creating your Slack display name.

Correct format: Firstname Lastname Department Division Rank

Examples:

Volunteers: Lisa Lee Volunteer

New Interns: John Smith Research

Division Officers: Peter James Writing OpSong DO

Division Officers with No Named Division: Jenn Miles HR DO

Department Heads: Sydney Moore Social Media DH

ELT Members: Kate Miller Web Development ELT

XO Members: Sam Smithsonian XO

Note: Do not use hyphens, parentheses, and/or any other characters that are not in the correct format above.

We value respect and uphold the concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst all individuals in the VSFS Digital Media Engagement Internship. We acknowledge and understand that we all come from diverse backgrounds; however, due to the Hatch Act, we are not allowed to discuss politics in any way, shape, or form. This protects our Internship Program Manager, and the rest of the DME employees on the team, from any inappropriate appearance of political partisanship, which could have negative implications at the VA. Therefore, please do not place personal pronouns, nor anything with political undertones, in your display names. If desired, you may place personal pronouns in the “What I Do” section in your Slack profile; however, this is not mandatory.

Resignation Policy

Communication of leave:

Interns: Required to report to corresponding ELT seven (7) days in advance before resigning. Must complete the DME Exit Survey prior to fully leaving the internship.

To ensure a smooth transition, Interns are required to finish any projects they were working on and should assist in training their team members and/or creating documentation that explains how to execute the resigning Intern’s former roles and responsibilities.

Leadership: Required to report to corresponding leadership (DO, DH, ELT), XOs, and the Internship Program Manager 14 days in advance before resigning from the internship. Must complete the DME Exit Survey prior to fully leaving the internship.

Leadership Interns are required to finish any projects they were working on to ensure a smooth transition. They must also assist in training their team members and/or creating documentation explaining how to execute the resigning Leadership Intern’s former roles and responsibilities.

Leadership Interns may also be asked to assist in finding a replacement.

Formal Offboarding Process 

Communication of Leave:

As stated in the resignation policy, interns who submit their resignation will need to report to their designated ELT seven (7) days in advance. Leadership Interns will need to report their resignation to corresponding leadership (DO, DH, ELT), XOs, and the Internship Program Manager 14 days in advance.

Process of Offboarding:

Human Resources (HR) Interns are required to consistently update and monitor a current inactive intern list, which will contain the following:

Intern’s Full Name

Intern’s Email

Intern’s Department

Intern’s Status on their Access to Slack, Trello, and Salesforce

Additional notes: resigned, disciplinary issues, end of year, etc.

HR Interns will contact ELTs/DHs at least twice (2) a month to ensure Interns offboarded efficiently. Note: All ELTs/DHs must reply to their HR person of contact (POC) with “There are no Interns that need to be deactivated from my department” if they do not have any Interns that need to be deactivated from the DME’s applications.

Final Removal:

Either a Human Resources ELT, XO, or the Internship Program Manager will manually remove inactive Interns from all DME platf

Request Time Off Policy (RTO)

Brief Summary of RTO Policy:

RTO’s that are unrelated to school or holiday breaks should be submitted to your department’s leadership via Slack for approval. The same rule applies for exams and finals.

For holidays and school breaks, the RTO process will be structured differently. HR will require all DME interns to fill out an RTO request form by a certain date. All valid requests will be accepted, but denied requests will require a resubmission from the Intern requesting RTO. ELT(s) may allow for corrections and resubmissions to be made if your original RTO dates have been declined. However, continuous resubmissions are discouraged and should not be done without contacting ELT(s) first.

For general requests, the RTO period can range between the months of September to April.

For holidays and school breaks, the RTO periods can range between the months of November and January.

Interns: Interns who request time off must give at least seven (7) days advance notice.

Retroactive notice of RTO is not permitted.

Interns are to inform their DH(s) and ELT(s) of the start date and end date of their RTO.

It is the responsibility of ELT(s) to notify the Intern if their RTO request has been approved or denied. ELT(s) will also be responsible for keeping track of the Intern’s RTO period.

requested Time Off (RTO) Policy:

Interns within the DME are permitted to take a short and/or long-term leave of absence with an approved reason or reasons. These reasons may include, but are not limited to:

death in the family

vacation away from home (with valid reason)

personal health concern/issues (including mental health)

university mid-term and final examinations

other reasons that may be deemed acceptable to DME Leadership and HR (e.g., personal and/or family birthdays; holidays- Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)

Note: In cases of natural disasters or unexpected emergencies (e.g., power outages), the Internship Program Manager, and/or XOs, and/or ELTs will reiterate the importance of prioritizing safety over the completion of work. Also, interns who are in the path of the natural disaster will be allowed to take a leave of absence for as long as they need to ensure their safety.

Note: Interns who have extreme circumstances (e.g. illness requiring hospitalization beyond one week) are permitted to take leave for an indefinite period. However, the intern must provide communications about an extreme circumstance within two weeks of the first missed weekly report caused by that extreme circumstance.

Leadership Interns: DO(s) and DH(s) who take time off will inform their respective ELT(s) at least (14) days in advance. ELT(s) and XO(s) who take time off will inform all other ELT(s), XOs, and the Internship Program Manager at least (14) days in advance.

Note: Failure to provide notice or explanation for taking time off with the guidelines noted in the RTO policy will result in the Intern or leadership Intern being listed as inactive and subject to removal from the DME.

Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Policy

Department Heads (DHs) will be choosing the top performing 25% Interns in their department based upon their merit and communication. Intern performance will be rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example, if a department has 10 Interns, then the DH(s) would submit their top 2 names (25% of 10 is 2.5; 2.5 rounded down is 2). These Letters of Recommendation (LOR) will be signed by the Internship Program Manager.

The selection process will conclude the last week of February, and letters of recommendation (LOR) will be completed during the month of March. A generalized letter detailing the completion of the VSFS Internship Program will be awarded to all Interns at the end of the internship cycle if the Intern maintains good standing with the DME. For this reason, it is crucial for Interns to submit their weekly reports to their respective DH(s), ELT members, and the Intern Program Manager every Thursday before 11:59 PM of the time zone they are present in.

Letter of Recommendation Process:

Human Resources (HR) will send out a Google Survey for all DH(s) to nominate their top Interns. HR will write the letter of recommendation (LOR) based on the survey’s information, detailing the chosen Intern’s accomplishments and diligence throughout the year. Once completed, HR will finalize the letter(s) on Trello for the Internship Program Manager’s signature to be added. 

Weekly Report Policy

Instructions for Submitting Weekly Report: When submitting weekly reports, only write “Your First Name Last Name Weekly Report” as the subject line of your email to your respective DH(s), ELT(s), and the Internship Program Manager. Please send the email to the Internship Program Manager and CC your respective DH(s) and ELT members as a yearly progress record is required for each intern in case a DH or ELT member falls ill or resigns from the program. Please contact your respective DH(s) and ELT(s) to receive the email in which you will submit your Weekly Reports to.

Structure of Weekly Report:

Intern Inactivity Policy

Interns are to submit a Weekly Report every Thursday by 11:59PM (in your time zone) to their respective DH(s), all ELT members, and the Internship Program Manager. Failure to turn in three (3) consecutive or non-consecutive weekly reports for the year will result in the intern’s removal from the program.

DH(s) will keep track of their department Interns’ Weekly Reports and directly contact anyone who has not submitted a Weekly Report via email. If no response is given to the DH(s) or no update is given describing the reason for continued inactivity, the Intern will be immediately removed from the DME Internship Program exactly 21 days from the initial email sent from the DH(s).

The Internship Program Manager, XOs, ELTs, DHs, and DOs understand that Interns can have unforeseen circumstances that adversely affect their schedule. However, communication with one’s DH(s) is still crucial.

An Intern’s department may have less work in select weeks. However, a weekly report must be submitted. In the event an Intern is on vacation and/or taking time off, the Intern or leadership Intern should refer to the Vacation and RTO policies. In that vein, Interns and Leadership Interns will not be required to submit a Weekly Report during the period of their vacation time and/or time off.

Password Policy

Password Creation: In the event a web account is created for use by DME Interns, the account must be secured with a strong password. Passwords should be at least eight characters and a mixture of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and punctuation characters. If the account requires a recovery email or phone number to be provided, please use the following unless instructed otherwise by department leadership:

Recovery Email: dmeinterns@gmail.com

Recovery Phone: Dom’s Cell (contact your leadership team for the #)

Password Management: Following account creation, usernames, passwords, and recovery information should be communicated to your department’s leadership team and ultimately stored in LastPass. If a password needs to be updated, inform your department leadership of the changes. Because you are creating an account on a web service that is specifically for DME Interns use, the password to that account will need to be stored and updated in LastPass by leadership personnel.

Department Transitions: When a department is undergoing leadership transitions, it is the responsibility of the former leadership intern and the incoming leadership intern to coordinate the transmission of passwords. This is especially important when a leadership intern is leaving the internship. To avoid the loss of an account, it is imperative an account’s recovery/verification phone number is not connected to a departing intern and is updated to either the incoming leadership intern’s number or preferably, Dom’s cell number.

DME Account Security Policy

Multi-Factor Authentication: As a security measure, multi-factor authentication is now required for all account users on dmeinterns.org. In order to activate multi-factor authentication, you will need to download an authenticator app for your mobile device. Examples of authenticator apps include Google Authenticator, FreeOTP, Authy, and Duo Mobile.

Instructions for Authentication Activation:

1. Log into your dmeinterns.org account.

2. Access your profile.

3. Scroll down until you see “2FA Status” under “Wordfence Login Security” (pictured below).

4. Click “Activate 2FA”.

5. Scan the QR code with your authenticator app.

6. Enter the code shown on your authenticator app into the corresponding field next to the QR code.

7. Download the recovery codes. These are used in the event that you need to login but do not have access to your phone.

If you have any questions and/or concerns, please contact leadership from the Web Security department.

DME Code of Ethics and Conduct

Safety

To ensure a safe working environment in a virtual setting, interns and leadership members should show the utmost respect for one another. Interns should strive to foster teamwork and an inclusive atmosphere. The DME will not tolerate harassment, discrimination, cyberbullying, or any behavior or language that is abusive, offensive, or unwelcome.

Professionalism

Interns should demonstrate professionalism in all aspects of the internship by understanding and respecting DME policies, welcoming and providing constructive feedback, communicating with others in a timely and courteous fashion, notifying teammates and leadership about absences in advance, and striving to produce quality work.

Integrity

Considering the virtual nature of the internship, DME leadership requires interns to perform their duties with the highest integrity. To foster a culture of trust, interns should uphold values of honesty, fairness, personal accountability, and commitment to each other and the U.S. Veterans we serve.

Confidentiality

It is expected that access to DME accounts such as Slack and Trello will not be given to those outside the internship. Additionally, DME documents with private or personal information will not be shared or spread to outside parties.

Disciplinary Actions

Interns who fail to adhere to DME policies and ethical standards will be met with the appropriate disciplinary actions. For most incidents, interns will be contacted and given a warning before more severe actions need to be taken, however this will depend on the nature of the misconduct. Interns who consistently disregard DME policies will be subject to removal from the DME. Due to the virtual nature of the internship, it is crucial for interns to regularly communicate with their department leadership to limit misunderstandings and avoidable conflicts.

Hatch Act Policy

What is the Hatch Act?

The Hatch Act of 1939 is a United States federal law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in some forms of political activity while operating in their official capacity.

How it applies to you:

Although interns are not considered federal employees, the DME team includes several Department of Veterans Affairs employees that cannot engage in or endorse political conversations. For this reason, DME workspaces such as Slack and Trello should remain apolitical. Therefore, interns should avoid discussing partisan politics, political activism, elections, etc. Additionally, because many DME departments represent the Department of Veterans Affairs through their work, this content must also be free of political speech.

We value respect and uphold the concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst all individuals in the VSFS Digital Media Engagement Internship. We acknowledge and understand that we all come from diverse backgrounds; however, due to the Hatch Act, we cannot discuss politics in any way, shape, or form. This protects our Intern Program Manager, Dom, and the rest of the DME employees on the team, from any inappropriate appearance of political partisanship, which could have negative implications at VA. Please click the link above for more information on this law.

Slack Channel Management Policy

Channel Creation:

The creation of new Slack channels is restricted to Dom and the Senior XO, at Dom’s request. All other interns, regardless of leadership position, should not create channels unless otherwise given permission.

If a new channel is needed or desired, interns and leadership should request the channel by following their chain of command (Intern → DO→ DH → ELT → XO → Dom).

Archiving/Removing Channels:

Archiving/removing Slack channels is restricted to Dom and the Senior XO, at Dom’s request. All other interns, regardless of leadership position, should not archive/remove channels unless otherwise given permission.

If a channel needs to be archived/removed, interns and leadership should request the channel by following their chain of command (Intern → DO→ DH → ELT → XO → Dom).

Adding/Removing Interns:

Who can add/remove interns within channels?

As new interns arrive on Slack during onboarding, each department’s leadership interns should add interns to their respective department’s channel(s).

Only Dom and the Senior XO should remove interns from channels. If interns believe someone should be removed from a channel, the issue should be raised to their department leadership.

Who can invite/remove interns within the Slack workspace?

The invitation or removal of interns to/from the Slack workspace is restricted to Dom and the Senior XO.

Trello Board Management Policy 

Trello Board Creation:

The creation of new Trello boards is restricted to Dom. All other interns, regardless of leadership position, should not create Trello boards. This prevents the loss of Trello boards when interns depart the internship.

In the event a new Trello board is needed, interns and leadership should contact Dom through their chain of command (Intern → DO→ DH → ELT → XO → Dom).

Removing Interns:

Only interns designated as Trello Workspace administrators, or Dom, can remove interns from Trello boards. Dom will assign Trello Workspace administrators as needed.

Concern Reporting Policy

Interns within the DME Team Internship Program are encouraged to express valid concerns they have about projects, work processes, and/or the conduct of other interns which may contradict the values of the VA and/or DME Team Internship Program or that risk the health, well-being, and safety of Veterans, Veterans’ families, DME Team Interns, and/or DME Team staff.

Interns who have concerns about projects, work processes, and/or the conduct other interns should initially contact the responsible party and/or the intern of concern directly through a private, one-on-one conversation (e.g. if Intern A has a concern about Project B, which is Intern C’s responsibility, Intern A’s first action would be to directly message Intern C; if Intern A has a concern about Intern D’s conduct, intern A’s first action would be to directly message Intern D).

The content of the first message is to include a description of the concern as observed (ideally in screenshot format), a statement of why the intern feels this contradicts Internship Program and/or VA values and/or poses a risk (must include justification), and asking clarification for why the concern might have manifested. Both interns will work to resolve the concern in a constructive, professional manner.

If the concern is not resolved in this initial message series, the intern who raised the concern should incorporate the intern who is at the next higher leadership level above the concerned intern (e.g. if Intern A raises a concern about a project related to a Web Development intern’s work and this cannot be resolved, the Web Development DH is incorporated; if Intern A raises a concern about the behavior of an Accessibility DH and this cannot be resolved, the ELT in charge of Accessibility is incorporated). This incorporation process is also known as “escalation of concern.”

If a concern is escalated to a higher level of leadership, that individual in that higher leadership level must have access to all aspects of previous conversations regarding the concern.

If a concern is escalated to a non-Executive Officer (XO) ELT member and still cannot be resolved, the next highest level of escalation is the XO ELT member. If a concern cannot be resolved at the level of the XO ELT member, then it will be escalated to the DME Team Internship Supervisor.

The DME Team Internship Supervisor reserves the right to make final decisions regarding resolutions of any concerns. The DME Team Internship Supervisor reserves the right to restrict permissions of and/or remove interns who violate any aspect(s) of the Concern Reporting Policy.