Internship Site Roles, Responsibilities & Expectations
An orientation would ideally take place during the interns first day or week of the internship. It is very important that interns be warmly welcomed and introduced to your organization, just as you would welcome a new employee. Not only are interns new to your organization, in many cases, they are new to the professional world of work.
Purposes for an orientation:
- Introduce and welcome the interns to your organization.
- Address logistics such as: schedules, access to technology, organization culture, communication practices, etc.
- For you to reinforce or set joint expectations for the internship.
- Provides a dedicated space to ask questions.
- The orientation can help establish or begin discussions on goal setting and what you and the student hope to gain from the internship.
- This is also a good place to discuss the process for problem solving during the internship- are there key people or departments the intern should be aware of or who they should speak to if they have issues or questions?
- Can help clarify policies, such as dress code or communication practices.
Some topics that can be covered during an orientation include:
- A review of the company history, overview, mission, values and structure. This will help the intern better understand the role they play and how their work fits into the overall organizational structure and mission.
- Discussing paperwork and policies with student interns. If they are going to be late or need to adjust their schedule, who do they talk to? Is there specific onboarding paperwork they need to complete and how do they do so? Who should they speak to if they have questions or concerns?
- Communication practices and expectations. This might be their first professional experience, so they will need some guidance on things such as email etiquette. Also share your communication preferences. Do you want students to email you their questions, drop by your office, or wait until a formal meeting? Setting these boundaries and expectations early can ensure that there is no miscommunication and things run smoothly.
If this is an in-person internship, be sure to review the safety and emergency policies and procedures. Is there a dedicated meeting space they should go to during an emergency? Make sure interns are aware of emergency exits and protocols during an emergency. Also take some time to give them a tour of the facilitates so they know where they can take a break, get materials they need, and introduce them to employees that they might be working with.
Interns should be assigned “meaningful” work that aligns with the organization’s priorities and helps the student meet their professional goals. Assignments and tasks should align with the learning outcomes and goals agreed upon by the intern and site supervisor. Students enrolled in an internship course will typically have an assignment where they develop learning goals and objectives for the internship. We encourage you to talk with students about their goals and provide feedback on how they can develop those goals within the internship. If the intern doesn’t have this assignment, this is a useful tool for you as an internship supervisor to use to help structure the internship.
Interns typically develop three types of goals.
- The first is knowledge goals. Knowledge goals pertains to industry specific knowledge. This can be learning a specific software program or procedure that is typically used in the career they are exploring.
- Next, interns are asked to identify a skill goal, this is an essential or transferable skills such as time management, taking initiative, and confidence speaking in front of others.
- Lastly, interns are asked to develop an attitude/value goals. This goal is focused on honing or changing personal attributes, such as becoming more self-confident or more accepting of diverse opinions.
Throughout the semester LBCIP will host networking and professional development events for student interns. We ask that you allow students flexibility to participate in these events. We also strongly encourage you to participate in our events, such as the Program Kick-Off event and Closing Ceremony as it means a great deal to the students and it gives us a chance to connect with you and celebrate the program. LBCIP may also host networking mixers and information sessions specifically for nonprofit organizations, City Departments, and small businesses. These are optional events that allow you to share experiences and best practices and connect and network with your peers.
Equity and Access: Keep in mind students come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and opportunities and may not have the technological tools needed for a virtual internship. Ensure the intern has the necessary technology and support prior to the start of the internship, and provide a loaner laptop, internet card, webcam, and/or other equipment if needed. Additionally, ensure the intern is granted access to all necessary systems prior to their start date.
Students engaged in virtual internships should not incur any personal expenses. Any such costs, including the purchase of software and hardware for the purposes of the internship, should be covered by the internship host site, or alternative arrangements provided to the student prior to starting the internship. If interns express a hardship, please contact the LBCIP team and we can work with the student to access on campus resources, such as laptop and hotspot loan programs.
Communication: Your interns need a point of contact within your organization. This may be a manager, supervisor, or online instructor. One key individual should be in charge of intern online assignments and communicate with them directly. The coordinator is also responsible for answering questions, resolving issues, and offering one-on-one support. In some cases, they may even act as a mentor who utilizes their personal experience and skills to enrich the online training experience.
Pre-arranged Schedules: Although a key feature of remote internships is the flexibility of the work schedule, supervisors and interns should agree upon a definitive time allotment per week and per day for internship activities. Shift caps – defining the amount of accrued time allotted for any given task - are strongly recommended to avoid unreasonable work demands and any conflict with reported internship hours. If a defined work schedule and/or shift cap is not established, disputes may result as to how long tasks took the student to perform.
Expectations: This may be the first time your intern has worked in an independent work environment which necessitates such high levels of self-motivation and personal organizational skills. The more support and tools you equip them with in this new environment, the more easily they will adapt.
Best Practices for Virtual Internships, this reference guide provides additional considerations and best practices along with resources to help you structure your virtual internship.
15 Best Practices for Internship Programs, National Association of Colleges and Employers
Best Practices for Creating a Successful Virtual Internship, Harvard Business School
Creating a Virtual Onboarding Program, LinkedIn
5 Ways to be a Mentor to Your Intern, Business Collective