If your company hires, or is it thinking of hiring, interns what exactly do your new hire checklist and intern onboarding process look like? Are you approaching internships as a valuable source of talent, and if so does your onboarding process reflect that?
Building talent pipelines is crucial if you want to get the first pick of talented individuals when vacancies open up - and if you want to eliminate the mad scramble to find qualified recruits when someone unexpectedly quits or you urgently need to add another team member to help cope with a surge in sales.
And finding great interns can be a big part of that. After all, if you’ve built a solid relationship with an intern, the chances of retaining their loyalty and taking them on as a paid employee when they’ve graduated is increased. Plus they can hit the ground practically running because they’ll already be familiar with your organisation and their role.
But - and here’s the but - if you’re looking to genuinely add interns to your talent pipeline, you need to make sure you’re winning them over from the start. Just because they’re young and not a ‘proper’ employee doesn’t mean you should skip the onboarding process.
You’ve created a new hire checklist for your actual employees to on-board and welcome them to your company, but making sure your interns feel welcome, supported and that they understand the company and its goals will also benefit you both, right now as they start their internship, and in the future if they do become a full employee.
So what does that mean? It means you need to develop a new hire checklist for interns.
Your onboarding new hire checklist for interns
In a way, interns share certain similarities with your remote workers in that they can feel like an outsider and not a fully paid up member of the team. (If you haven’t already, and you employ remote workers, you should also develop an new hire checklist for remote workers.)
But back to our interns. How do you ensure that your onboarding process rocks? By working through your new hire checklist. How do you create a new hire checklist? By reading our new hire checklist template below!
We’ve put together 9 ideas that you can adopt to create your own intern onboarding checklist to inspire the youngest and most inexperienced members of your team to do their best while interning for you. That way you can be confident of getting the best work possible from them, lowering the likelihood of errors, increasing engagement, seeing their true colours and abilities - and hopefully adding them to your talent pipeline!
Intern onboarding checklist
- Know what you want from your internship program
If your interns are to succeed and bring true value to your business you need to establish, internally, what you want your internship program to look like. You need to set targets for your interns to work towards - and hopefully achieve. Crucially these targets need to be demanding, but not completely unrealistic.
You also need to figure out where your intern should work. Is there a particular person, team or department who could really use an intern? And not just to make coffee and do data entry! Where would a promising intern learn the most? Could they work on, and complete, a specific project before the internship ends?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you even start to add intern onboarding to your new hire checklist for interns.
2. Send them an email running through the basics
You need to be prepared to cover the very basics of ‘having a job’. For many, although not all, of your interns this could very well be their first experience of work, outside of a summer or weekend job. You can do this via a welcome email which could also include a briefing of what to expect on their first day so they don’t turn up feeling completely bewildered!
Be clear and communicate to them their working hours, what type of attire is appropriate for your place of work, who they will report to, how to call in sick, and other company policies that will be applicable to them.
3. Prepare your intern’s work station and logins
Once an intern has accepted your offer and the wheels are in motion make sure you’re prepared for their arrival. No one likes to feel like an afterthought or a spare part, and not having a clean desk with a fully functioning computer will exacerbate those feelings. Make sure the computer is loaded with the software and programs they will need, and that they have logins and passwords set up and ready to go.
4. Deal with new employee forms
Ah yes, the good old new hire paperwork! As with any new employee, your intern onboarding will include the usual signing on the dotted line. You may need your intern to sign new employee forms in person, but if at all possible, forward the contract and any other documents to them before they start their internship.
That way you can get the boring bits out of the way as quickly as possible and they can hit the ground running. Or at least jogging.
5. Conduct intern onboarding and orientation
Next on your new hire checklist for interns you need to cover probably the most vital aspect of their onboarding: orientation. On their first day at work you should sit down with your intern(s) and explain your company’s culture, values and goals.
Make sure that the language you use is clear to someone who may have little to no knowledge of how a workplace - and specifically your unique organisation - operates. You know the acronyms and jargon your company uses: they won’t. And there’s nothing that will make an intern - or indeed any new recruit - feel any more like an outsider than not understanding (through no fault of their own) anything you’re telling them.
6. Introduce your intern to the team
Another important part of your new hire checklist is to make your, possibly shy or intimidated, newbie feel as welcome as possible during their intern onboarding. Once you’ve got the preliminaries out of the way and dealt with the basics, the company policies and the new hire paperwork, it’s time to show the less formal side of your business: its (hopefully!) friendly faces.
Your intern is only going to be with you for a matter of months: they don’t have long to get to know you, and vice versa. That’s why it’s a great idea to not only make sure they’ve met everyone that they need to meet, but to arrange a team lunch a couple of days into the first week to make sure they really do feel welcome and part of the team.
7. Assign your intern a workplace buddy
When you’re new to a role it can be scary to ask questions. Who do you go to? Are you bothering people? Is it a stupid question? And for an intern who may have scant knowledge of a working environment it can be downright terrifying.
To help deal with this, you could team them up with a buddy who can check in with them and provide a friendly ear and even some mentorship. If at all possible, make sure a buddy or mentor is someone of a similar age and who has enough experience within your workplace to provide guidance, but not so much that they’re intimidating!
This type of mentoring works on so many levels: your intern is learning the ropes and has someone to ask questions to and get advice from, and your buddy gets to showcase their own capacity for leadership. And that means you get an insight into whether they’d make a potentially good candidate for promotion or more responsibilities in the future.
8. Check in with your intern along the way
The penultimate part of your new hire checklist should include a note to check in with your interns during their time with you. After all, this works both ways: you get inside insight into your organisation and its culture and practices that you may not get from a regular, paid employee who is afraid of rocking the boat - and your intern knows their opinion is valued by you.
And as we know, asking for feedback makes employees feel recognised and therefore increases their loyalty and your employee retention rates!
9. Check in with your intern at the end of their placement
Scheduling an exit interview with your interns is just as important as it is with your full time people - especially if you want to retain their talents after they graduate. And as with your periodical check ins throughout their internship, it will also give you some great feedback.
This is also the time to bring up the question of whether or not an intern you want to employ after they finish college or university is also interested in pursuing a full time career with you.
Your new hire checklist for interns: to conclude
Don’t forget that your end goal is to create such a great intern onboarding process and internship that you wind up with a potentially great person to add to your talent pipeline. And don’t forget that you don’t have all that much time to do it in!