Keep Your InternSHIPS from Sinking

Tips For Onboarding Students

Internship Blog PicInternships can deliver a lot of value for students and companies. Running an internship program may just feel like extra work, but (like any investment) the rate of return for employers and for students is rooted in what you put into the program.

Interns bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to the table. They also provide more (once trained) hours to get things done. In return, interns gain hands-on knowledge for specific work tasks and an in-depth experience with workplace culture. Much like with any new employee that joins your team, intern orientation is key.

Don’t botch the kickoff! Supercharge your team.

College students want to know that they’ve chosen a valuable place to spend their school break – one that is fun, engaging and invested in them. Intern orientation events help provide context and welcome your interns to the team with a boost of energy that will leave a lasting impression. Remember, some of your interns may turn into long-term team members.

InternshipsDon’t just break the ice, immerse them in your workplace atmosphere on day one. Large and small groups of interns benefit from team building programs. Team building events introduce interns to your company culture. If your organization is focused on social issues, consider a charitable event or local volunteering opportunities. Host a culinary event to appeal to foodies or kick off a tailored high tech program to highlight other company themes.

Training is an important part of intern orientation; however, an engaging overall introduction to your company, team and goals is just as vital. Team building programs provide a foundation for collaboration and communication. Students learn how their role impacts the team and organization as a whole.

Keep your team engaged.

Now that your team of interns is energized and engaged, keep the momentum going and they’ll stay productive. Even with differences among individuals, the most accomplished teams have many of the same characteristics: they know each other well; they understand each other; they enjoy working together.

Universum, a global research and advisory firm, asked 65,679 undergraduates in the U.S. to identify benefits they’d most like their internship employer to offer. After full-time employment, what students want most from their internships is job orientation and training (42%), followed by a good employer reference (29%). Rounding out the top five are challenging assignments (20%) and flexible working conditions (19%).

There are many other ways to keep students motivated and productive after intern orientation:

  • Make sure that roles and accountability are clear. Adapt Who, What, When, Where, Why poems to create a small icebreaker for your team.
  • Create a motto, song, banner, logo, name, etc… and be sure to recognize everyone’s work and accomplishments.
  • Get to know your interns. They shouldn’t just get to know each other! Continue the team building with quick and easy DIY exercises.
  • Don’t rush! Break training down into phases, especially for difficult tasks.
  • Don’t give all the ideas and stop shooting down the bad ones.
  • Stop setting deadlines. Create timelines.
  • Use collaborative and team building platforms like Trello and OfficeVibe.
  • Give praise. Constructive criticism can carry a lot of weight. Give positive feedback, too, to make sure your team knows when they’re headed in the right direction.
  • Involve interns in team decision making (when possible).

Do you have any tips for kicking off and managing internship programs? Please share!

Samantha McDuffee

Team Contributor


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