Intern Onboarding Tips and Best Practices

summer intern onboarding tips - welcome them from the start!

Intern Onboarding Tips: Make sure your summer interns feel valued and welcome from the start! (Photo via Alex Roberts, Flickr)

Summer’s here! And the time is right for making sure your interns have a rewarding work experience this summer. That experience begins even before their first day on the job. Here are best practice intern onboarding tips to ensure they feel valued and an important part of your workplace culture and success from the start!

These Folks Know All About College Internships

College Recruiter put together a list of good (and bad) practices when it comes to internships.  Here are intern onboarding tips they think valuable to ensuring a successful summer experience:

The Good

  • Onboarding doesn’t start on the first day Interns should begin onboarding before arriving.  It’s up to you to make a good first impression so consider including them in office events prior to their start date, or at minimum share the company’s history, vision and mission.
  • Give them a personal and warm welcome – Schedule a time for  interns to be personally welcomed.  Since they may lack experience, some special treatment to facilitate their transition into a professional environment may be in order.  The first day’s experience can have a big impact so be sure to set up their work space and equipment so that area is clean and ready to go with all technology set up properly.
  • Organize a site visit for them – Let your existing staff know that an intern is starting and make as many introductions as possible because connecting with more people can help them feel included.
  • Introduce them to their own team – To further provide a sense of security and belonging, interns should know immediately who they will be working with.
  • Appoint both a manager and a mentor – Provide a manger to oversee the work and a mentor to help facilitate sharing additional information beyond the scope of their summer projects.
  • Clarify expectations – A manager should clarify what the expectations for both the intern and the manager.  Outline work assignments and define success criteria.  College students have a syllabus for most of their courses so think of the work plan in that light with the focus and goals clearly outlined.
  • Assign challenging and relevant work – This may be the best way to foster success. Don’t skimp on supplying necessary tools and documents.
  • Define a communication plan – Does the manager expect a written report from the intern each week?  Be clear and intervene early if you see any red flags.

The Bad

  • Don’t treat everybody the same – Tailor the position to the candidate you hired and their skills.  Many of your Gen Z interns will want personalization.
  • Don’t make interns wait for benefits – If you plan to offer them, consider making benefits available on day one.
  • Don’t give unclear expectations – Avoid “throwing them to the wolves” by ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
  • Don’t exclude interns from the process of designing their training – Avoid just talking at them – learn what motivates them.
  • Don’t assume you have nothing to learn from interns – Learning isn’t a one way street, some interns may have skills that you don’t, so be open-minded and curious yourself.

Sapling HR offers their own list of seven essential best practices for successful summer intern onboarding. In addition to the points above, they recommend getting all the necessary paperwork done and out-of-the-way day one. They advise most internship problems stem from inadequate planning so be sure your team’s involved and you’ve established clear goals and responsibilities for the internship. A successful internship is good for everyone!

Don’t Forget to Follow the Rules

Make sure you are aware of federal Department of Labor guidelines for the employment of interns.  They released an updated fact sheet on internship programs in January, 2018.

Welcome Gifts Are Important

Employee welcome gifts for new hires and interns send a message from day one that your company values and appreciates its staff. What makes a good workplace welcome gift? It’s not about how much you spend; it’s about what message you communicate. Your gift should reflect: 1. your company mission and culture, and 2. your sincere and specific gratitude for joining your company team.

The Scoop From Former Interns

In an article for The Muse outlining five tips for making the most of your summer interns, former interns shared what they appreciated most about their internships.

“One of my best intern managers scheduled weekly touch-bases with me to see how I was doing and if I had any questions,” shared a Lehigh University graduate. “I learned so much about the company because I could ask her everything and anything.”

An intern with AOL who went on to become a full fledged employee said “real” assignments were what set her internship apart from other experiences, “At AOL, my manager always looked for my input and included me in team meetings. From the start, I was given real responsibilities and always felt like a valued member of the team.”

Intern Onboarding Tips – Checklist

Do you get satisfaction from checking things off of you to-do list at work?  The folks at Workable created a handy intern onboarding checklist so all you need to do is print, implement and start making those check marks.

You Can Help Shape the Trajectory of an Intern’s Career

You have an opportunity to shape how a young person perceives your entire industry.  What you do (and don’t do) matters.

Ensure Employees Feel Valued Day One and Everyday!

The arrival of summer interns is a great opportunity to make sure your summer employee engagement calendar is rich with opportunities to celebrate your team and make sure colleagues feel valued and integral to the success of your business.

We have just the resource you need to keep employee appreciation activities top-of-mind and inspired year-round! Download your FREE “2018 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” from gThankYou.

The gThankYou annual calendar is jam-packed with insights into the latest HR trends, how-to tutorials for engaging and thanking employees, case studies to inspire you, examples of holidays to celebrate each month, and research statistics to help you make the business case for appreciation.

Download yours FREE now and start today!

Download gThankYou's 2018 Employee Appreciation Calendar Now!

 About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S. Find out more: gThankYou Gift Certificates.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

To learn more about gThankYou, watch our “About Us” Video and visit gThankYou today!

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