Internship preparation form

This form is designed to help you prepare for your internship. It assumes you have already contacted the employer (you want to intern with) and they have accepted for an agreed period of time. It also assumes you have been advised who your supervisor (contact) will be during this time.


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3: Onboarding – Looking after your intern on their first day / week

Onboarding as an employer

Your new intern is in the building. You’ve got their schedule prepared, a small list of introductions to make and some induction meetings with a few key people that can help explain how things work around here. (Oh, you haven’t? Quick! Get someone to take them for a coffee while you get yourself sorted).

Welcome Them To The Family

Ok, we’re back. Like any first day or first couple of weeks, everything is new. The main thing, keep an eye out for them. If you’re leaving the office, just let them know and give them someone else they can go to in your absence. This time at the beginning of the internship, or indeed any job is when you want them to feel at home. You don’t want them leaving and dreading coming back the next day.

As you introduce them to the team it’s a good idea to share some of the expectations that the intern mentioned in their form. It shows to them that you read it and that also you’re taking this seriously.

Their first week (or first 3 days) should be about making them feel comfortable. If there’s anything going on in the office or outside as a team, then invite the intern along. You could plan something, or just try and get them an extra ticket to an event that some of the team are attending.

Set The Tone

Probably the biggest and most valuable moment that they’ll remember from their internship is your first 1 on 1. Now, we’re not saying you have to deliver your Braveheart speech or have your Jerry Maguire moment, or do your presidential acceptance speech… but this first 1 on 1 sit down with them will set the tone for the rest of their internship.

So what will you say?

Some start with the ‘big motivator’. “This is the first day of the rest of your career. The opportunities you seize and the character you show in the next 12 weeks have the potential to set you up for greatness. Are you ready? Are you going to grab hold of this with both hands? Are you?”

Others may play it down with an ‘ease them in’ approach. “Ok, just remember, no-one’s expecting too much from you. It takes years of experience to reach a top level in this industry. We all have to start somewhere and for you, it’s at the bottom of the ladder in this internship. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. If you need something explaining, or explaining again, that’s ok. We’re here to help you get through this.”

And then there are the ‘pragmatists’. “Ok, you’re here. I’m going to treat you like a member of the team. I’m going to make sure that this experience is as genuine and real for you as I can possibly make it. You’ll see and experience the ups and downs and sometimes craziness of life in our industry. It might be an eye-opener. But whatever it is, it’ll be what you make of it. Don’t wait quietly and meekly in the wings waiting to be asked or for something to happen. But at the same time, don’t get all cocky and think that because a client liked one of your ideas you’re suddenly qualified to run the place. I’m really looking forward to having you as part of the team, so make the most of it.”

Of course, the most important thing is that you’re authentic and that you’re you. There are pros and cons with all of the above. Do what’s right for you, and based on your experience of them so far, what you think is right for them.

Actively Evaluate

Over the first 2 weeks, you’ll be evaluating them. What are the early signs of their strengths and weaknesses? Are they better in a team situation? How do they handle being given a task to do on their own? Are they picking things up quickly or is it taking a while for things to sink in? Are they getting along with some people better than others?

This evaluation is going to help you make adjustments to the rest of the program so that you and they get the most out of the experience. Think about which project might be right to involve them in. Which team(s) they’d be best suited to work with. Who’s working styles will be best suited to them. Are there people in your team that enjoy explaining things in-depth, or are there members of the team that are all about speed, quick-thinking and might be less tolerant of someone who’s slower on the uptake.

And finally, think about you. Are there any bad habits that you know you have? Anything that you wouldn’t want to pass on to someone just starting out? Are there any things that you wish you’d learned when you began your career? How can you create an experience that fills that gap for your intern?

Ok, good luck - see you in a few weeks time!