Tips for Onboarding and Managing Interns

August 15, 2014

Interns can be a welcome and productive addition to your team. Just how productive? To a large extent, that’s up to you.


Read the other posts in the “How to Build a Startup Internship” series

Once you have hired a class of interns you may think your work is done, right? Wrong. Interns must be properly onboarded in order to be effective. The ultimate goal is to have your interns working on real projects that full-time employees would generally take on. Adding value to your team and lessening the work load on team members. They will be given meaningful work and have expectations around the speed and quality in which the work is completed.

Onboarding Checklist

Now, since they will be doing similar work to full time employees, wouldn’t it make sense to onboard them as you would full time employees? Taking 1-2 days at the very start of the internship period to properly onboard interns will save you time training and answering questions throughout the months that the intern is with you.
Prior to the start date:

  • Reach out to the intern to confirm start date and time, dress code and what to bring on their first day.
  • Make sure that the intern’s workstation is set up; they should be sitting with the team and close to their mentor. Make sure they have everything they will need to work effectively (i.e. computer, phone, notebooks and pens).
  • Set up their accounts on any systems they will need access to (email, CRM, etc.).
  • Schedule all trainings and introduction meetings for that day.
  • Put together an onboarding packet with any information they will need and include a schedule for the day.
  • Send an email to the team and/or company, letting them know that an intern will be starting, share some information about the interns background and what they will be doing. (This can also be done on their first day)

Having this all set up will make them feel welcome and create a smooth start to their time with the company.

To make sure you’re really ready for your intern’s start date, find an onboarding checklist here.

Intern Management Responsibilities

Once an intern is hired and properly onboarded, they should be set up to be successful during their time there. That being said, an internship is an internship because the employee is a student, someone who is with the company to learn and grow, both personally and professionally, as well as work. It is the mentor’s and the team’s job to make sure that the program is as valuable to the student as it is to the company (if not more).
The intern’s mentor/manager will be responsible for:
Having periodic check-in meetings with the intern. You should meet once a week or at least once a month (depending on your preference) for a short 15-minute check-in. This meeting should be recurring on the calendar. Use this meeting to discuss progress on their projects and any impediments they are running into, as well as explaining how their work is impacting the team/company. This time should also be used to relay any feedback from either party.
Encouraging the intern to interact with other teams within the company. While the goal of internships are largely to gain new skills and hone current skills in the professional world, they are also great for networking and learning how to be a real “employee” in an office setting. You should encourage your intern to attend social events and work during the day with other teams and team members. This will ensure that they make the most out of their internship.
Approving time sheets and time off requests. A time sheet process should be determined prior to the interns starting. Work with the payroll department to determine the time frame that time sheets need to be submitted (ex: three days before pay day). The intern will submit their time sheet prior to the due date to the mentor, the mentor will approve the timesheet and send it to payroll. The mentor will also approve any time off the intern requests during their time with the company.

Find a sample time sheet you can have your interns fill out and submit here.

Building a strong relationship with your intern and fostering open communication, both positive and negative. After all, this is supposed to be a great experience, allowing you to have an extra set of hands for the summer and giving the intern some real life experience they can take with them.

Find a checklist for managing interns here.

Stay tuned for my next post on offboarding and evaluating your interns, including a checklist and templates your company can use!
Photo by: MindField Group

Senior Talent Manager, Engineering

<strong>Meghan Maher</strong> is Senior Talent Manager, Engineering, actively recruiting top talent for OpenView and its Portfolio Companies. Her tech background has helped OpenView hire for nearly 20 IT and engineering positions. Meghan began her career at AVID Technical Resources, where she was a Technical Recruiter for two years.