It’s finally come – your intern’s first day! This can be a trying time both for the intern and the company that’s welcoming them, but by taking a few steps to get your ducks in a row, it can be smoother than you think. Let’s review a few key ways you can prepare for your intern’s first day.
Get the Essentials in Place
The first step is to ensure the intern has a place to work and the things they need to get their work done. There are many internships that start out without these key essentials, typically because the company plans to have the intern shadow other employees and doesn’t realize the value of the intern having their own work space, computer, and other essentials, and the result is often a daily scramble to find the intern a place to work.
Communication is Key
While there are of course key differences, there are also many similarities between internships and hiring full-time employees. One way they’re virtually identical is in the need for open communication. If you’re dealing with an intern who’s never had a job before, they may be afraid to speak up or ask questions. Be open and invite them to share their insights. This is the best way for you as a company to get the most from your intern’s energy and new ideas, and the best way for your intern to have an overall positive experience.
Define the Work to Be Done
Many interns who’ve had less than stellar experiences say that their biggest issue was not understanding what they should be doing. If you have specific tasks you’re planning on assigning to your intern, then make sure you’re clear about them. On the other hand, if you’re planning a day where the intern shadows someone to learn the ropes, then be clear with the intern that their job that day is to simply observe and take notes.
Talk to Your Staff
Most companies will let department heads know that an intern is on their way, and of course employees within the department the intern is assigned to will also be aware, but too often issues arise because other employees didn’t realize that the new face was an intern. They may think a new employee has been hired and they weren’t given the opportunity to apply for the position, which can easily be avoided by simply announcing an intern is on their way.
Remember Your Role
Interns often walk into their internships with a clear idea of what they’d like to learn, and you should have a clear idea of what you have to offer as well. Remember that at the end of the day, the purpose of an internship is to give interns valuable insight, experience, and education. While this can pertain to the specific work you do, it can also pertain to holding down a job in more general ways. For example, if you’re working with a college-age intern who’s never had a professional job before, then they may simply not understand concepts that are a given for professionals. For example, an intern who shows up a few minutes late every day may truly not realize that this isn’t acceptable in your work environment.
Preparing for the big day can be as simple as jotting down the most essential things you want your intern to walk away with, or it may be as involved as ordering a new computer and desk. It’s always true that a little planning creates a smooth experience for everyone.