Building An Internship Program: How to Off-Board and Evaluate Interns

Off-boarding and evaluating can make or break your startup internship program in the long run. How can you make sure your intern class keeps improving?

An intern class is typically with your company for a fixed period of time — summer, spring semester, or fall semester. At the end of that time period it’s easy to shake hands with your interns, thank them for their time, and call it a day. But before you say goodbye, it’s important to properly off-board your intern class to prevent work from falling through the cracks and give your interns a lasting impression of their time with the company.

3 Steps to Effectively Off-board and Evaluate Interns

1) Confirm your intern’s last day and notify all team members
Make sure everyone is aware of the intern’s last day and give time to transition any unfinished work to another team member. If possible, have intern classes overlap a week or two so that exiting interns can train incoming interns. This will save the team time on training and working with the new interns.
2) Consider employing them as a Brand Ambassador
If the intern has positive things to say about their internship and said that they would recommend the company to a peer; employ them as a Brand Ambassador. After all, they are going back to school and what a better place to have someone promoting your internship program and company to students than at the school they attend. Brand Ambassadors are typically paid a small stipend based on meeting certain goals (X number of newsletter subscribers, X number of students attending an info session, etc.)
3) Complete evaluations and hold an exit interview
Both the intern and their mentor should complete evaluations of some sort to help assess the program as well as the intern’s growth and skills. Then, hold an exit interview to review the evaluations and discuss their time with the company.
This includes creating formal evaluations for both the intern and the mentor of fill out. These evaluations with provide valuable information and action items that both parties can use to improve. For example:

  • An intern notes that his internship would have been better if he was able to interact more with other teams. This is a free enhancement that can be made to any internship. Put interns on projects across teams, or foster more collaboration in other ways.
  • A mentor writes that the intern’s time management skills were not very strong. The intern now knows what skill he needs to work on to perform better in future jobs.

Sample Intern Evaluation Form

Find an evaluation checklist here.

The intern’s evaluation should focus on their time with the company, how valuable they felt the internship was, and what they learned. Good things to touch on are processes in the internship — onboarding, off-boarding, etc. — as well as mentorship and the work they were assigned. Interns see the program from the other side, and could suggest small tweaks you may not have thought of. For very little time and cost, your program could be drastically improved.
You should also include questions around whether or not they would recommend this program (potentially as a Brand Ambassador), if they would come back for another semester or if they would consider a full time role at the company.

Mentor Internship Checklist

Find an internship checklist for mentors here.

 The mentor’s evaluation of the intern should be for the intern’s benefit. This is something they can take with them to start improving right away. Rate the intern’s skills including communication, ability to learn, creative thinking and problem solving. There should also be open-ended questions around what the intern could improve upon in general (and also what they did well!).
Additionally, during off-boarding you should think about:

  • Would you write them a letter of recommendation? Let them know!
  • Would you like to offer them full-time employment upon graduation?
  • Are they receiving credit for the internship? Do they need any sign off?
  • Would you like to organize a send off party/dinner?

Whether the intern was phenomenal or just okay, make sure they leave the company on a good note and feeling like they accomplished something over the summer. Make sure to stay in touch with them and encourage them to reach out if they need anything in the future.
Stay tuned for my next post on the continuous management and repeatability of the program, including a list of schools to recruit from in your city!
Read the other posts in the “How to Build a Startup Internship” series

Photo by: IAEA Imagebank

Meghan Maher
Meghan Maher
Senior Talent Manager, Engineering

Meghan Maher 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.
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