ntern recruitment is on the rise overall, with a 74% increase expected in the digital and IT sectors. Additionally, nine out of the top ten highest paying internships come from the tech industry. A combination of growth opportunities, high pay, and increased demand has drawn a large number of interns as well as fresh graduates to tech companies.
With such a large percentage of the student population starting internship programs or new jobs, it's vital to have an effective onboarding strategy in place to get the most out of your new hires.
Let’s look at a few ways to effectively onboard new tech hires to your company.
1. Establish goals and expectations
An internship might be the first time students and graduates work in a professional setting. They can’t just show up and know what to do. Establishing goals and expectations – not just in terms of work performance but also related to company culture – can help interns arrive on their first day with a clear understanding of their expectations.
Begin integrating your interns into your work culture as soon as possible. For example, send your interns introductory emails with work briefs, add them to your Slack channel, or host a webinar to tell them about your company’s rules and regulations. Let them know their working hours, office attire, and any expectations you have of them.
Set realistic goals and expectations for your interns when planning your internship program. Start by defining the roles and responsibilities your interns will perform. You can talk to your team leads, discuss what different departments need, and assign roles accordingly. Which teams need interns? How will Team X benefit from an intern? What will an intern’s role be if they join Team X?
An important thing to remember is that internships vary in duration from as little as one month to three to four months. Ideally, try giving your interns tasks that they can complete within the internship’s time constraints.
2. Get the paperwork out of the way
An internship can’t begin if both parties haven’t signed off on an agreement. The terms and conditions of an internship are usually discussed during the final round of interviews. If you missed doing this, make sure you set up a call to discuss the duration of the internship, the working hours, and the stipend (if it’s a paid internship).
In addition to this, make sure you’re clear about the paperwork you will provide after the internship program. Inform your interns that they’ll receive bonafide certificates and recommendation letters to help them access future career opportunities.
A nice touch to add to your offer letter would be a welcome email that includes an ‘onboarding package’ with company swag that includes a schedule for your interns’ first day.
3. Explain what’s in it for your interns
Interns are joining your firm for practical experience and to enhance their resumes. Since an internship is a two-way street, it’s important to identify goals and learnings from their perspective. Interns end up speaking to one another and also to subsequent batches, and if they have a good experience at your firm, you’re likely to receive more internship applicants as well as applicants for full-time roles.
4. Plan the entire internship before it begins
Interns are required to come in and adapt to your company’s culture, working hours, and quality of work. However, since internship durations are short, interns don’t have the luxury of taking a few weeks to settle in. In order to help smoothen the acclimatization process for them, you need to thoroughly plan their entire internship program before it begins.
Interns may provide significant value to your organization beyond completing basic day-to-day work, but only if they are effectively onboarded. Without a properly planned and organized program, your interns can feel lost, which can impact their productivity. You may also not be able to offer them adequate support or guidance due to a lack of time. It’s therefore important to plan their internship before their first day so that they can make the most of every opportunity they have to work with you.
5. Give your interns a warm welcome
Your interns made a good first impression during their interview process, and you’re happy with the batch you have for the summer. Now it’s time for you to make a good first impression on them!
New interns can be shy and reluctant to engage with people they don’t know yet. Organize an icebreaker session with your interns and make sure they get to know each other. You could also treat interns to breakfast or lunch on the first day to ease them into work within a casual social atmosphere. Providing them with welcome packages and refreshments helps them feel welcomed and valued.
Encourage your team members to take the first step and initiate conversations with the new interns. This will let your interns know that you and your team are approachable, which will go a long way toward making them comfortable. Ensure that the interns meet everyone else on their respective individual teams and learn their names.
6. Make the first day memorable
The first day is always important, especially for new interns. Many of your interns will likely be stepping into a professional work environment for the first time. Additionally, every day counts because your interns will only be with your company for a limited time, so you’ll want to make the first day memorable.
Introduce your new interns to your team. If you have a smaller company, you can introduce the interns to everyone. A good idea would be to assign each intern a ‘buddy’ who joins them for lunch or a coffee and interacts with them so they learn more about the company and understand their work plan. This buddy can continue to be their mentor throughout the internship, providing a safe space for the interns to discuss any problems they might face.
7. Get started with a training session
You might think that it’s better to take fifteen minutes to perform a task yourself rather than use up two precious hours to teach an intern how to do it. However, investing the time to train the interns at the beginning of their internships will save you a tremendous amount of time later when you need these tasks performed again.
Start the internship program with a training session that covers the company’s vision and the short-term goals you’re hoping to achieve while the interns are there. Show your interns how you plan to integrate them into the company and allow them to ask questions and voice their opinions on where they think they can use their strengths. Keeping your interns engaged, informed, and motivated can be hugely beneficial for your company.
Apart from this, let your interns know about the chain of command, who they’ll report to, and the dress code, among other things. A training session can get plenty of doubts and queries out of the way in a concentrated amount of time and set your interns on the right track for the rest of their internship.
8. Involve your team
Send an email out to your team and let them know that a new batch of interns will soon join your company. You can share your interns’ backgrounds with your team members and ask them to speak up if they are keen to work with any specific intern for their team.
Involve your team members in the onboarding and training process. This will help your interns feel welcome and your team members more invested in the outcome of their internships. A good idea would be to pair younger employees with the interns for mentorship and support. Your interns will have a buddy to work with and the younger team members will have the opportunity to take on a leadership role.
9. Keep your interns engaged with meaningful work
There’s no point giving interns spreadsheets to fill out if they’re computer science majors. Play to your interns’ strengths and provide them with work relevant to their skills and the career they’re looking to pursue.
Additionally, don’t give an intern the same task over and over again. In this case, work can become monotonous and a disinterested intern is unlikely to put in 100%. Instead, communicate with your interns, understand what work they are interested in doing, and try to fit them into a role they would enjoy. Switch it up and send them to another team member halfway through the internship if you think they’d be better off working under them.
If you place your interns into the right teams, you’ll be able to get a lot out of them. If appropriately placed and guided, an intern who enjoys the work could end up as a productive full-time employee at your organization.
10. Provide constant support
Make sure you check in on your interns regularly so that they don’t feel lost. You don’t have to set up Zoom calls or physical appointments to talk to them; even casual encounters and a few supportive statements can go a long way.
If you’re busy, delegate someone to tend to your interns in the interim and get back to them once your work has eased. Don’t ignore your interns or let them feel like you’re hard to reach. Even if you’re not available exactly when they need to speak to you, keep them informed on when you’ll get back to them.
When you find the time to sit down with your interns, encourage them to ask questions as that is how they will learn and grow. If you give the impression that you’re unapproachable, your interns will eventually give up and stop asking altogether, which will only impact the work they are doing for you.
11. Ask for feedback
Here’s a bonus tip: once the internship is over, make sure you ask for feedback! Set up an exit interview for your interns to talk about their internship experience: what they liked, what they didn’t like, and where they think your organization could improve the internship program.
Maintaining open lines of communication will give your interns the confidence that you respect their input and value their opinions. It will also provide you with feedback that will help you enhance your internship program in the future.
If you have an intern who has performed exceptionally well, you can even use this exit interview to let them know that you’d be happy to offer them a full-time position at your company after they are done with school.
The average recruitment timeline to hire new interns is eight months. Recruiting good interns can take an extremely long time and most companies don’t have the ability to spend so much time, energy, and other resources on an internship program.
At FloCareer, we help companies hire the best candidates for internships through quick and efficient recruitment solutions. With over 3,000 FloExperts trained to spot the best talent on the market, you can be confident of acquiring the right interns for your company.