Onboard interns like any other employee.

Summer’s coming! Are you preparing your internship program?

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 intern onboarding tips to ensure they feel valued and an important part of your workplace culture from the start. Don’t forget – these young adults are potential future employees and will also serve as ambassadors for the company during and after their internship.

There are many benefits to having interns, although to do it right, there should be clear guidelines on who is managing them, what tasks are appropriate, how to engage and teach them effectively, and more. But start with some often-overlooked but important basics. Make sure you are seeking, finding, pre-boarding, and onboarding interns with intentionality. However, the hard work up front will make it smoother and more enjoyable for everyone.

CareerBuilder offers some best practices for finding and developing interns. Some of our favorite considerations include:

As to WHY it’s a great move to have interns, you can undeniably “Gain new, fresh perspectives” and “Create a wider pool of qualified candidates for future roles.” We also agree with the importance of their advice to “Create and publicize an internship timeline” to be upfront about the length of the opportunity; as well as “Determine what they hope to gain from the experience” to ensure you’re on the same page.

Here are some additional tips and tricks we’ve gathered over time.


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.

we're so glad you're hereDo you get satisfaction from checking things off of your to-do list at work?  The folks at Workable created a handy intern onboarding checklist to make the assignments and the check, check, check easy on your intern managers!

But first and foremost, 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.  Setup their workspace and equipment so that area is clean and ready to go with all technology set up properly.

Introduce them to EVERYONE and take them on a tour! Where is the coffee? Who is the office go-to for random questions? What’s close for lunch? What would you want to know?

Plan Ahead and Follow the Rules

It’s wise to get all necessary paperwork done and out-of-the-way day one or ahead of time. Most internship problems stem from inadequate planning, so be sure to establish clear goals and responsibilities for the internship. HELPFUL TIP: Make sure you are aware of the Federal Department of Labor guidelines for the employment of interns.

Welcome Gifts Heighten the Experience

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. We recommend grocery or ice cream gift certificates!

Management and Expectations

Appoint both a manager and a mentor. Provide a manager to oversee the work and a mentor to help facilitate sharing additional information beyond the scope of their summer projects.

The manager should clarify weekly expectations up-front and on an ongoing basis.  Outline work assignments and define success criteria. Compare it to a syllabus when reviewing with college interns to make it seem familiar.

Assign challenging and relevant work! Don’t skimp on supplying necessary tools and documents and have managers and mentors weigh in on what’s assigned and review how it is going.

Define what reports or outcomes would be helpful. Not only does it help roadmap the internship, but it also provides interns with tangible and measurable outcomes for their work. This will not only improve satisfaction but help them translate the experience to a resume.

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.

The arrival of a new intern (or a summer team of 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 “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 planning an excellent summer today!

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