Ahh, internships. The perfect way to provide real-world experience to novices while also bringing fresh talent and new perspectives to your company.
If your organization has decided to hire an intern (or bring in a full intern class!), it’s important to take the steps necessary to make their experience a great one. In the long run, this will benefit not just the individuals, but your company, as well.
As you read this, you may be nearing the end of this year’s summer intern program, or you may be gearing up to start a new program in the fall. In the spirit of acknowledging National Intern Day, below are tips for before, during, and after your program to make sure your interns feel recognized and engaged throughout their experience.Prepare your interns for success.
With a new internship comes a mixture of excitement and nerves! Connect with your interns via email and video call before their start date to provide logistics and ease them into their first day on the job. If working in the office, set up their future workspace with a name tag, company swag, notebooks, and pens. If they'll be remote, mail them their laptop with some swag. They’ll feel welcomed, appreciated, and be ready to hit the ground running!
Host a meet-and-greet event.
Whether your office is in-person or virtual, hosting a welcome event for your newest colleagues is extremely important. Chances are, your interns will be working with a variety of different departments through their assigned projects. They’ll feel more comfortable asking for help if they already made connections with some familiar faces during their first week! If hosting a virtual event, we recommend a speed-networking game, such as 52 Connections!
Create a strong training program.
Hosting both group onboarding and recurring training sessions can give interns a chance to connect with one another and learn together. Aside from scheduling trainings solely on your company's culture and history, also mix in career-boosting workshops such as Microsoft Excel basics, so they can learn new skills to take with them throughout their future career path.
Set recurring check-ins.
Managers, schedule recurring 30-minute check-ins each week and be sure to give your interns context on what’s going on in the business. They’re learning too, so don’t assume they automatically understand what’s being covered in meetings!
Help interns feel included.
Assign interns a buddy or mentor that they can grab coffee with once a week to chat about not only the projects they’re working on, but their career goals and dreams. Ordering lunch on a Friday? Include your interns! No one likes feeling left out and this will only add to their level of comfort and overall experience with your employees.
Make sure there's enough to do!
There’s nothing worse than trying to look busy while sitting at a desk for eight hours, so be sure to assign daily tasks and long-term projects. Providing a project tracker sheet in Excel can help them keep track of the work they’ve done throughout their time at your company. By the end of their tenure, they’ll be shocked at how much they accomplished! This will serve as an important tool for them when it comes time to interview for future jobs.
Encourage ideas and feedback.
Be sure to create an environment where interns feel empowered to share ideas. Remember, you’re providing them with some of their first experiences in the “real world" and speaking up might be out of their comfort zone, so make them feel comfortable however you can. These individuals will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to your business, so it's a win-win!
Provide time for networking.
Chatting with higher ups can be intimidating. Creating a comfortable setting where interns can network with different members of your company will help them make connections and market themselves. Who knows - they might be your future boss one day! Looking for a fun way to make connections? Host a company-wide City Scavenger Hunt, where interns are partnered with higher ups to explore their city, share laughs, and make memories.
Stay in touch!
After the program, encourage your interns to connect with one another and folks they worked with on LinkedIn as a way to strengthen their networks and stay connected throughout the year.
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