Communication: the sometimes dreaded “C” word. When it’s done poorly, it makes everyone’s life harder. But when communication is done well – with clarity and purpose – it can make all the difference in the world! This applies in your personal life, business communication, and in the relationship between your business and your interns. Here are our best tips from 20 years of experience working with Interns.
Orientation is Key and Should be Ongoing:
Orientation is a vital cornerstone to your internship program. Typically occurring during the first day, it’s the best time to lay out what the Intern Program’s expectations and guidelines. Orientation is great time to introduce your new interns to all the relevant people in your organization. This would include: Executive Leadership, the intern management team, the intern’s manager and supervisor, full-time employees the intern will be working with, and, of course, other interns! Not only does this allow for the interns to “meet and greet”, orientation is also a great time to make sure that everyone is on the same page with the goals and aspirations for the Internship Program.
Orientation should not be just a one-day affair; it is the foundation for clear communication throughout your internship program. One great way to facilitate continued communication is to develop a platform that interns can reference back to rules and expectations. This could be a handbook that the intern receives with their on-boarding paperwork, access to the company’s intranet portal, or a website designed just for your intern program. This is a great way to lay out who interns would need to talk to regarding specific issues or where to find answers to frequently asked questions.
Be Open to what your Interns Need:
As you’re setting up your internship program, be aware that some interns may have some requests outside of the “regular 9-5”. One example an intern could request is a flexible work schedule or an unusual work arrangement. Not only does this flexibility make your internship seem more desirable to prospective interns, it can also make interns more successful in the workplace by easing their transition from school to work. You might also consider letting your interns work part-time so that they can take summer classes or participating in college sports while still getting a full internship experience.
Taking Stock with Exit Interviews and Surveys:
Whether you plan on conducting face-to-face interviews or over the phone, exit interviews are a great way to gather data and feedback on your intern program. You might also consider putting the exit survey on your intern portal or website. Exit surveys and interviews are also a great way to gauge if the intern would be interested in coming back or would accept a full-time position.