As the summer months approach, interns begin their journeys with companies looking to develop their skills and utilize their fresh perspectives. As supervisors onboarding temporary, part-time help, the struggle can be managing their expectations, goals and the project workload of the company.
If you’re new to an intern supervisory role or even if you’re an experienced pro, we’ve put together a few pointers and comments from interns to help you make the most of your program.
Have them complete an intake survey
One way to learn more about your new hires and their expectations is to have them complete a short survey during their first week. If they have certain skills or goals they’d specifically like to work on, then you’re already aware of them and can coordinate projects to align with those. Some sample questions include:
- What are some goals you have for the future as a student and professional?
- What are some new skills you would like to gain from this internship?
- What are some expectations you have for this position?
Provide a training guide (if possible)
If there are tasks that interns will routinely do or general office guidelines they should know, it can be helpful to have an onboarding guide. Include items such as dress code, sick day and leave policies, general workflow processes or specific instructions for recurring tasks they complete on a daily or weekly basis.
Jebidiah Drost, a junior in mechanical engineering, wishes he had been trained by a former intern so he could hear first-hand what was expected.
That may not be a possibility for some summer positions, but having a training manual for them may help them feel integrated more quickly and work more efficiently from the start.
Suggest keeping an intern journal
As interns, and even as full-time professionals, it can be difficult to remember to keep track of completed projects. Suggesting interns keep a weekly or bi-weekly account of the steps, accomplishments and challenges during their projects will help them illustrate their experiences when they begin applying for full-time positions or graduate school.
Give them an adequate workload
“Make sure that you really utilize the interns. I know a lot of companies don’t let their interns do much, but they are really losing out in the long run,” Halle Kutsche, a junior in mechanical engineering, said. “The more interns get exposed to and the more responsibilities they are given, the better they will be when they are hired full time.”
While interns may have daily or weekly duties, assign them a larger-scale project that could be completed over the course of the summer or semester. This gives them ownership of completing something potentially meaningful for your organization.
Gather additional feedback
A crucial way to develop your internship programs from year-to-year is by gathering midterm and final evaluations. Interns might feel uncomfortable providing direct feedback about how their internship is going. Provide an online or paper survey during the midpoint and again at the end of their experience. Giving them an outlet to freely express their experiences at the midpoint in their internship, allows you the chance to follow-up and modify any areas in which they might be encountering challenges.
Midterm feedback examples:
- What has been satisfying or enjoyable for you during your internship?
- What has been frustrating or difficult in your time with us?
- How can we enable you to make better use of your time?
- What additional skills do you think would be helpful for this position to learn?
Exit evaluation examples:
- Do you feel your internship was a good learning experience? Why and/or why not?
- Do you feel that the work was challenging enough? Was the work pressure manageable? If not, how could we improve it?
- Did your internship meet your expectations? Why or why not?
- What could be done to enhance this internship opportunity?
- What one or two pieces of advice would you give the next person to work in your position?
Our Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, said it best, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
For more ideas on how to better your program read the NACE article, “15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.”