Intern season is upon us! Whether this will be your first time bringing an intern on board, or you’re a seasoned intern host, onboarding your intern is an integral part of their experience, and yours. Like any regular employee, interns are only as good as the information, and guidance, you give them. Onboarding can truly be the difference between interns becoming a part of your team as contributing members or just coexisting (and that’s not doing anyone any favors).
We are going to walk you through a basic intern onboarding process so that you can ensure your intern is set up for success!
Communicate Goals, Expectations & Vision for the Internship
If you followed our 6 Tips for Hiring Your First Intern then you have already thought about your expectations for the internship program, have a few goals in mind, and created buy-in from your staff. Now is the time to communicate those with your intern(s) and make sure you all are aligned on these aspects. Whether that is through an email before the first day, an actual face-to-face conversation on the first day, or a phone call/video call before they start, this conversation is imperative. This would also be a great time to ask them what their goals are for this internship and what they hope to get out of it as well. If everyone involved has a clear vision of where they want the program to end up, what they want to achieve, and what they expect from one another, your success rate will already be off to a roaring start.
Have a Work Plan
It will be beneficial for you and your intern(s) to have a loose work plan. This can be a list of projects they will be working on, dates you will need tasks completed, resources they can use to complete their tasks, and dates of any events. Giving them a work plan on their first day can help them prepare and schedule out their days, so they aren’t always coming and asking you for more work once they have completed their daily tasks.
The First Day
Your intern’s first day should be well planned out ahead of time, giving them a sense of structure from the beginning. We aren’t talking about military-grade structure, but having a plan will ensure the intern’s first day is informative, resourceful, and beneficial to the entirety of the program. One thing to note is that for some of these interns, this could be their first time in a professional environment, so having a well-organized plan of action can make a huge impact on their actions throughout their time with you.
Even though the first day will be filled with obligatory systems, processes, and introductions, it is important to make it memorable. It would be easy to put them at their desk and start giving them tasks, but remember, you want your interns to feel like they are a part of the team, so giving them a warm welcome is critical.
Starting the day with a tour of your facilities is big because that is when you can introduce them to your entire team! This gives both your intern(s) and your full-time team members the opportunity to make a connection.
The first day is when you are going to want to start the process of getting them access to any programs, resources, or tools they might need to be successful. Showing them where those can be found, and who to go to for help. Depending on your company, there might be certain folks for certain questions, so making that apparent to the intern will be helpful. Also, completing any paperwork should be done as well. Getting these tasks done first thing will help you and your intern(s) move on to the fun stuff as soon as possible!
It will be imperative that you end their first day by answering any questions they might have. You have to remember, they just consumed (more than likely) around seven hours of information! Information that you had years to get under your belt, so be gracious when their questions might be a repeat of the information given to them earlier in the day.
The internship has come to an end and it is time to say goodbye, but not without giving them an exit interview! An exit interview will be crucial in getting feedback about the internship program, things they enjoyed, and things they didn’t. As the host, you have the opportunity to share how the experience was for you, and your team, and any advice you have for the intern(s) as they progress through their schooling and career. This is also an opportunity for you to discuss with the intern(s) any future positions you have for them.
Whether the internship ends with you offering employment or not, the exit interview is a pivotal moment of the experience.
Interns can be a great addition to your team and add valuable skills, thoughts, and ideas! Creating a seamless onboarding experience will ensure you and your intern(s) start off on the right foot, and provide an environment conducive to professional growth!
If you have your onboarding process ready to go, check out our Top Ways to Show Employee Appreciation to make sure those interns feel the love!