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How to Plan a Successful Intern Orientation

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Internships are a popular way for businesses to engage with new potential employees, access inexpensive labour, and promote their business to potential recruits. Having engaged some new interns for your business, you might be wondering just how to initiate them into your business successfully. A good orientation program helps your intern settle into their role, and it could reduce anxiety and uncertainty for new hires. It can also allow you to establish realistic job expectations and improve productivity.

Benefits of having internship programs

Welcoming interns to your business can have a number of benefits, including cultivating a ready pool of valuable talent for future roles and testing potential new recruits for fit. Internship programs can boost retention rates and reduce costly turnover, improve productivity, and diversify your organisational culture by bringing in new ideas. Having an internship program helps you give back to the community, support students in starting out in the workforce, and access low-cost labour on a temporary basis.

Tips for successful intern orientations

A successful orientation assists your interns with understanding their role, fit into the organisation, and complying with safety standards and regulations. Your intern orientation might include some or all of the following, and you can make use of checklists, policy manuals, and guides, as well as verbal explanations.

Induction checklist

Using an induction checklist for all intern orientations means you’ll be able to maintain uniformity and ensure that all the basics are covered for every intern. Induction checklists will vary from business to business, but generally it should cover everything from hours, uniforms or dress code, building passes, and explanations of pay and employment conditions, to assigning workstations and a tour of the office or worksite.

Responsibilities

Clarifying overall responsibilities and expectations helps your interns understand their roles and work more effectively towards specific goals or targets. Make sure your interns are signing up for an internship that’s well rounded and includes tasks and experiences that allow them to gain valuable experiences. Providing them with information about your organisational goals, structure, and individual departments or business areas can also support better understanding of their role in the larger context.

Supervisor

If the intern’s supervisor is not conducting the orientation, make sure there’s an opportunity for the intern to meet their supervisor during the orientation stage. The supervisor ideally should be involved with the orientation, especially when the intern’s responsibilities and tasks are being outlined. You can also go over any assessments, reviews, and feedback stages during the internship, so your interns are aware if they’ll be assessed and when feedback will be given.

Safety and compliance

Depending on your industry and worksite, safety and compliance matters might be very important. If you work with specialist equipment in manufacturing or deal with chemicals or other possible risks, you’ll need to make sure your interns understand how to stay safe when working with these.

Introductions

One component of your intern orientation will include introductions and meet-and-greets. This could happen on an individual basis or you might introduce you interns to the whole team at the same time. Ensure that key coworkers, supervisors, and team members are given a chance to meet one on one with the interns.

For something different, why not follow the introduction with some group activity, such as a fun day out for the whole team or a team lunch? This gives everyone an opportunity to get to know the interns, and group activities can boost morale and in turn productivity. Encourage staff members to be receptive to your interns’ questions and let interns know that questions are welcome.

Mentors and buddies

Assign one or more mentors or go buddies for each intern so that they know they always have someone to ask if they have any questions that they’re not comfortable asking their supervisor. A mentor might be someone closer in age to the interns, or a graduate recruit who can easily anticipant any interns’ concerns and help them settle in more quickly.

Fun intern orientation day

Whether you’re a small business welcoming several interns or a large enterprise with a whole team of summer interns, it’s a great idea to turn your orientation day into a team-building activity. A day outside the office in an outdoor event allows new interns to get to know your business and staff members. It can also supports more coherent teams and stronger organisational culture.

Feedback

Finally, don’t forget to ask your new interns for some feedback about how they think their orientation could have been better. You can use anonymous feedback forms to encourage full honesty, and the data you collect can be used to improve your onboarding exercises in the future.

Supporting interns ensures a successful program

An effective, welcoming orientation can support your interns in understanding your organisation. By taking an empathetic and enthusiastic approach to designing a fun-filled orientation day, you can help your interns settle more quickly into their role.


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