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Internship Orientation: How to Create a Memorable First Day

Estimated reading time: 9 mins

Regardless of your goals, one thing is clear — first impressions matter. They are one of the factors that decide whether a newcomer will enjoy the program or not. Building a positive, memorable experience during intern orientation is a must-have!

Learn about the ways to make a great first impression for your new hire. We’ll show how to avoid frequent mistakes and build proper communication.

Benefits of hiring interns

Starting an internship program for your company helps it wield multiple benefits. Apart from getting a view of potential colleagues, the team also gets a refreshed look at things.

Below are the points that will convince your managers to run an internship orientation campaign.

  1. Target young potential.
  2. Increase brand recognition among students.
  3. Apply new techniques brought by interns.
  4. Boost the leadership of your employees by letting them mentor and supervise interns.
  5. Take advantage of low-cost labor that may bring skilled specialists to your team.

While these are the five general statements, there’s much more than that. It often occurs that the productivity of whole departments gets boosted when a new pair of hands gets on board.

Newcomers are also an unlimited source of ideas. There are many things your team could learn from interns. Communicating, not worrying about making errors, being ambitious, striving to learn more, and new approaches to something – that’s the primary benefit of internship orientation.

Send a first-day schedule

Remember your first day at work? That must have been some real commotion! You definitely want to help the intern avoid it.

Once all things are set, you should prepare a schedule that includes all the activities the newcomer will have to complete. You can create a checklist easily with multiple templates available on the Web. Printing it out will help the intern a lot.

Make sure to cover other essential details as well. The locations and time at which they must be there is a necessary addition to the list.

Being able to track their progress like that, interns will have no trouble dealing with your business’s challenges. This boosts productivity and target focus.

You would also want to send a short video about the company. Visme is a simple online tool that could help out. Such content will help you cover the general questions much faster.

If that’s too much, then use an online slideshow maker instead. You still answer the person’s questions but with less time spent. 

Make a good first impression with a greeting

Use the first impression to your advantage. It sets the expectations for both sides, so why not motivate the intern from the beginning?

A greeting is very important because it’s the first thing the trainee experiences during their internship orientation. You need to get to know each other to prevent awkward situations. A fun onboarding quiz sent in advance should do the trick.

Once the newcomer arrives at your office, use the information from the quiz to show them that they are one of you now. For example, offer a cup of coffee if the intern wrote that they love drinking it.

Some companies also use greeting cards to welcome new members. It shouldn’t necessarily be a strict card with a “welcome to the team, sir” in it. You may use something trendy like a meme if your corporate culture allows that.

Overall, be encouraging and do your best to greet a new colleague on board. This person might be someone who will stay to work with you in the future, so build a good relationship from the start.

Get their workspace ready

If you know how to manage interns, you are aware that they are as valuable as any other team member. That is why they need to have their own workspace that is set up appropriately.

A lot depends on how things are done around your company. However, make sure that your trainees have all the necessary tools for work. The basic toolset often includes a laptop, stationery, and anything else used in your routine.

Do not forget to instruct the newcomers about the rules that apply to your routine. Each company has different requirements; therefore, it is your task to acquaint the intern with them.

Introduce the intern to the team

Proper communication is often the right component to solving almost any challenge. That is why both sides must get to know each other starting from the very beginning of collaboration.

The simplest way to make an introduction is during a morning meeting if you have such an occasion. Another option would be to gather a separate appointment where each member would welcome the intern and briefly describe their roles.

An introduction is as essential as a greeting because it also brings the first impression. When the newcomer gets to know their colleagues from the beginning, working with them becomes more manageable. It is always easier to approach someone whom you already know.

If you use Organimi, you can show the intern the way your team is arranged. Charts are an excellent option to show who is responsible for which processes. Apart from that, it may also cover the hierarchy to represent whom the intern must be reporting to.

Make an office tour

You wouldn’t want anyone rushing into your study, saying sorry, and running out. The same goes for other team members. Such awkward situations are easily prevented when each colleague is well-informed about the office layout.

An office tour must cover even those bits that appear to be a routine for most people. Starting with the workspace and ending with a canteen, try to show the newcomer all the team has got. 

Don’t forget to ask them whether they have any questions. People often hold back when they are nervous or do not want to interrupt others. This is where you help them relax and feel a bit more confident.

Gift time!

Who doesn’t like gifts? There probably is no such person!

Even if the gift is a company-branded set of stationery, it is still a very appreciated thing by most people. You could also come up with some creativity and involve the information there is about the person. If you know the intern is a coffee drinker, then a coffee mug is the perfect gift.

Remember to be careful with gifts. They should neither be private nor discriminating. Find the golden mean and maintain a neutral-friendly tone.

Presenting the welcome packet

The welcome packet must include all the company’s policies, regulations, calendar, and expectations from the intern orientation process. Briefly, it is what all the newcomers need to know gathered in one place.

Getting acquainted with the papers might take a while, so let your newfound colleague take their time. In case anything is not understood, they should reach out to you for an explanation. You might want to check that they’ve read the rules by conversationally asking some questions.

If there’s a nearby event planned, you might want to explain to the intern how it takes place. They would likely be involved in the occasion, so they should be aware of things in advance.

Plan a lunch

Work is work, but lunch has to be on time. It is a perfect way to take a short break and have a snack. For you, it is an additional possibility to learn more about the intern’s first experience.

While you may use performance tracking tools like BambooHR, a short talk during lunch break is more important during the first day. Ask the colleague about their emotions, challenges, and whether they like being there. Keep a friendly conversation, and don’t turn it into an interrogation!

Assign a mentor to help the intern

When we teach others, we learn too. Involving your team in the process may prove to be far more beneficial than you might expect. Not only will they boost their knowledge confidence, but also their leadership skills will grow.

Each team member must be assigned as a mentor at least once in a while. Don’t leave the cake all for one specialist who knows his job inside out. Let the others improve too!

You know how to manage interns; therefore, this skill will be beneficial for others as well. It helps them grow both like specialists and mentors, boosting them up the career ladder.

Onboarding plan

A good onboarding plan will help your trainees get to work and bring results in the shortest time frame. It involves meetings, corporate culture, and many other details designed to engage new employees in all the processes.

Spend some time creating a proper plan that won’t just be plain text. It could be a presentation with some illustrations for better perception. Imagine yourself as a trainee and do your best!

Explaining goals and expectations

If you want to boost the efficiency of an employee, setting reasonable goals is mandatory. Your requirements must be clear and understandable.

Of course, you cannot expect an intern to fulfill a task designed for a senior specialist. That’s why you set clear expectations for each assignment. It is totally fine if something appears to be too tricky; we’re all people, after all.

Therefore, make sure the trainees are aware of all goals & expectations. Whenever they face a challenge that is still too difficult, they should know that a mentor will always lead them to a solution. There is no magic key, only effort, and self-development.

Don’t assume prior knowledge of anything

While your team has a lot of experience, the same cannot be applied to interns. Sure, they may be great students with honorary diplomas, but that is usually all theory. Hands-on experience is what matters.

Don’t assume that an intern knows everything. Explain them even the basic notions because you never know how good they are until they start working. Sometimes, it is best to revise the basics and only then proceed to the more complex information.

Be a mentor, not a boss

Bossing around interns is only a good idea if the company needs a cheap workforce with no future prospects. The more load you force them to carry, the least likely they are to stay in your business.

Being a mentor helps you teach young specialists and learn new things yourself. This is the right approach when you value reputation and want the interns to work with you in the future.

Employees are people too. Just like you, they make mistakes and have their worries. It is your job to support them on the path!

Do you remember your internship?

What was your story, and what were the main challenges? How did things turn out in the end? Share your experience with us!

 

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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