Resources
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min read

Onboarding Interns ✏️

Onboarding Interns ✏️

The purpose of interns and internships is to give students the opportunity to learn and grow within a professional work environment. With this in mind, it is important to give students a good onboarding experience, as these vital few days and/or weeks can set the tone for the remainder of the work term. As more and more companies are moving workers back into the office, it is important that onboarding procedures are adaptable to accommodate interns regardless of how and where they are working.

Here, we will detail some of the ways to improve upon existing intern onboarding procedures, as well as some other methods to improve the internship experience for your interns.

Table of Contents:

  1. Welcome them to the Team
  2. 30/60/90 Day Onboarding Process
  3. Provide Structure
  4. Have Fun 
  5. Solicit Feedback

Welcome them to the Team 💖

Interns are students, and the first few days on the job are similar to the first days of school. Give your interns the chance to meet the team, feel welcomed at the company, and familiarize themselves with the people they will be working with for the duration of the internship term! 

 

  • Ask your new hires for a short blurb/“about me” and photo prior to their start date. Draft an email to your company introducing the new additions and their brief biographies. You may also choose to share your interns on social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter! 
  • Alternatively, post a welcome message on a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel to start a conversation amongst employees. 
  • Whether your onboarding is virtual or in-person, schedule a meeting or casual lunch on the first day to introduce them to the co-workers and teams that they will directly be working with. 
  • If you have multiple interns, consider planning an official intern orientation that will allow them to meet one another and learn more about the company together. 
  • Give them a welcome package including goodies such as personalized company swag
  • Provide each intern with a mentor that they can reach out to and learn from throughout their time at your company. 

 

30/60/90 Day Onboarding Process 📋

The 30/60/90 day onboarding plan is a powerful onboarding roadmap that helps new employees track their process and sets them up for success. During each 30 day increment, the roadmap will help new interns focus on specific skill sets that will help them ease into daily life at their workplace. 

30 days: These first 30 days should be spent focusing on becoming familiar with everything company related. It is also important for the new intern to understand the scope of their role, their responsibilities and expectations placed on them. Here are some ways to make the most of your new hire’s first 30 days:

  • Provide training sessions for company platforms, new software, etc.
  • Hold weekly 1:1 check-ins.
  • Familiarize them with the company, your product/service and the clients you serve.
  • Get them to start working on projects.
  • Co-create a development plan with them that outlines goals, milestones, KPIs, etc.

60 days: The next 30 days should be used to integrate your intern(s) into the everyday operations of the company. During this time period, training should be less intense but still ongoing. The primary goal here is to give opportunities for your new hire to implement the skills they have learned during their first month. The action items during this time period should include:

  • Greater collaboration and involvement with other team members during meetings and while working on projects.
  • Identify pain points and find ways to address them.
  • Setting up more regular meetings with your intern and then entire team.
  • Provide and solicit continuous feedback to and from your intern, respectively.

90 days: The final month of onboarding your intern should focus on giving them greater independence and autonomy. This is the phase when their training wheels come off, where they receive greater responsibility, autonomy and accountability. By this point, they should:

  • Be working independently on work/projects.
  • Receive greater accountability for their tasks.
  • Be more proactive and integrated within operations.

Keep in mind each interval should be adjusted according to the complexity of the intern’s tasks as well as the length of their work term.

Provide Structure 🏡

Creating and implementing a structured onboarding process is important to setting your interns up for success. Doing so:

  • Provides a tangibly improvable element within your onboarding process.
  • Gives interns something to fall back on when their managers are busy/unavailable.
  • Reduces burden on managers to teach interns every little task.
  • Lowers the amount of forced memorization and note taking interns need to do.
  • Makes feedback more  specific and tangible, which can be implemented almost immediately.

Examples of what this can look like includes video tutorials, written guides and voice memos on performing daily/operational tasks; this helps interns perform new and unfamiliar tasks with little to no supervision. Having some level of structure, whether it be training modules or pre-recorded webinars means that the experience you provide will improve with every wave of incoming interns. 

 

Have Fun 🎉

While your interns are ultimately there to learn and gain valuable work experience, encouraging them to have fun at the workplace will definitely set the tone and allow them to connect more with the rest of the team as well as the company as a whole. So, what might having fun look like? 

 

  • Host a wide variety of events and activities that your interns can participate in. Encourage them to come out to company events such as lunches or happy hours, and dedicate workshops and networking events such as Student Appreciation Days and Learning Days for them to attend. Better yet, encourage your interns to take the initiative for their own events, such as an intern talent show! 
  • Make jokes, and be light-hearted. There’s nothing like laughing together at work! You can take a few minutes at the beginning or end of meetings to chat casually and ask them about their day.
  • Get to know your interns more outside of work. Arrange to take them out on a team bonding dinner, or even a team-building activity such as a hike. 

 

Solicit Feedback 💭

A problem that plagues most intern positions is the apparent lack of impact they have. Interns can often feel neglected or unmotivated because they feel they are only there to do grunt work. However, their impact is a lot larger than they may realize so it's important to ensure they feel valued and their impact is recognized!

  • The best way to motivate and get the most out of your interns is to make them feel like their voice is heard and they are actively contributing to the future of the company.
  • Constantly asking interns for their opinions and constructive feedback establishes a connection between them and the company.
  • By showing interns that you respect and welcome their feedback right from the start, you set a strong precedent, the benefits of which will linger long after onboarding is over.
  • Soliciting feedback is the best way to improve the onboarding experience for your present as well as future interns. 

By asking for feedback following a structured onboarding process, you give interns a heavy sense of belonging and involvement.

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