How to Help Interns Have a Productive First Day of Work

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Nataly BogoradHead of Content Creation at Movavi

Friday, November 13, 2020

Interns can be a valuable resource for many companies, but only if they're productive right from the get-go. How should you structure your interns' first day of work?

Article 6 Minutes
How to Help Interns Have a Productive First Day of Work

Interns have become a regular part of corporate life and work in companies across industries. While many people consider the benefits that internships provide to those who participate, it’s important to recognize that interns are also valuable resources for companies. They offer a win-win situation—students and graduates can gain practical work experience in a professional setting as they help manage projects or provide support to teams who need it.

However, many companies fail to plan for their interns’ first day of work, leaving them to figure out what to do with minimal direction and experience to draw on. Avoid making the same mistake by planning ahead of time so that they can be productive contributors from the start.

Benefits of hiring interns in the workplace

Besides providing work experience and fulfilling college credit requirements, internships often directly lead to job offers. Most companies that hire interns do so with the intention of hiring them as full-time employees. A recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that the offer rate for interns is 59%, and the acceptance rate is 77.3%.

Providing internship opportunities is a cost-effective way for employers to see what an individual is like before committing to hiring them full time. Training costs companies over $1,000 per employee, according to a recent Industry Report. A well-trained intern can turn into an employee who’s ready to hit the ground running and save the company on training costs in the future.

Another way interns benefit companies is by providing a way for emerging leadership staff to get on-the-job management training. Managing interns is often a stepping stone for new managers who may have never had direct reports before. Learning how to manage them can be an incredibly valuable experience and help new managers gain the necessary experience to eventually lead a team of in-house employees.

Being an effective manager starts before your interns show up for their first day. If you’re new to management, make sure you take your role seriously by providing your reports with everything they need to be successful.

5 ways to make your interns productive from the start

On the first day, your interns may experience a range of emotions, from excitement to nervousness and even some apprehension, especially if this is their first foray into the professional world. Use these ideas to structure your interns’ first day of work and set them up for success.

1. Create a welcoming environment

On your interns’ first day, clear your calendar of meetings, at least in the morning. At least spend a portion of the day speaking with your intern one-on-one to address their questions and help them get familiar with your processes. Introduce them to the team, and encourage everyone to take a few minutes to get to know each other.

Scheduling a friendly coffee break or lunch outing can be a way to let your interns get to know you and your team in a more relaxed environment. Nobody ever knows what to do for lunch on the first day of a new job, so having a crew to hang out with can make the first day a lot less stressful.

2. Include them in meetings

Make sure to invite your interns to meetings. There’s a good chance they’ve never been part of a corporate meeting, so having the experience of attending and listening will be beneficial. Plus, by feeling included in the conversation, your interns will become more comfortable in their environment.

In meetings that require group participation, make a point to ask interns for their opinions directly. They may not be comfortable voicing their opinions in large group meetings without being addressed first and could provide you with some useful insight that helps you solve a problem.

3. Provide useful documentation

The phrase “like drinking from a fire hose” is often used to describe the first day or two of a new job. New employees are thrown a ton of information all at once, which is impossible to digest in real-time.

To avoid overwhelming your intern, it can be useful to create a welcome video that they can watch on their first day and reference throughout their experience. The video can include company policies, attendance expectations, contact information, login information for any software or tools they’ll use regularly, and relevant information about the specific project they’ll be working on. Use a video editor to easily create a welcome tutorial that gives your interns all the information they need to get started.

Some video editors to try include:

4. Prepare their duties

Before they onboard, plan out the project you want your interns to work on, including setting up milestones and check-in points. Create a plan that you can share with them on day one that maps out the project’s purpose and your vision for it. Leave some room for creativity so they can put their skills and innovative ideas into practice.

Make sure to leave some room for flexibility, including allowing time for new projects that may come up during the internship. Your plan should also clearly outline expectations that you can refer to when delivering a performance review. A project management tool can help your intern keep track of their assigned tasks and see how their project fits into the larger picture.

Some examples include:

5. Be prepared to teach and mentor

By the time you’ve reached the intern manager level, you’re undoubtedly familiar with how your office runs. Things that you may have once been confused about are now second nature.

It’s important to remember that your interns may be coming with an entirely different background. Working with you may be their first-ever experience in the corporate world, so they may not be familiar with tools you take for granted, like scheduling meetings or syncing calendars. Be prepared to teach as well as mentor your interns throughout their internship. Anytime you ask them to do a task, follow up to see if they need help figuring out a tool or process.

Takeaway

Even though they’re temporary employees, it’s vital to take them seriously. They fulfill a crucial role in the organization and become valuable resources for the company in the future.

By planning ahead and providing a well-structured first day of work, you’ll set your interns up for success. The way you manage their first day will ensure they have the tools and support they need to achieve their goals and help you with your projects. The first day will set the tone for the rest of their internship. Be prepared to spend most of the day training your interns using these ideas and tools to provide everyone involved with a rewarding, engaging experience.

Nataly Bogorad

A seasoned content creator and web text editor with 7 years of experience in commercial writing and website UX. In 2012, she graduated from Universit├Ąt Kassel with a bachelor of arts degree in English and American studies and art criticism. At the same time, Nataly had worked as a project assistant for Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH where she wrote and managed the content of the company website. An advanced speaker of English and German, she specializes in writing SEO-optimized and user-friendly content.

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