Helping your student interns understand their new roles

September 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Advising interns, Intern Advice, Preparing interns | Leave a comment

Your students are ready to start their internships, learning how to transition from student to professional. Although you’ve given them lots of helpful information and training, they still need your continued support and resources as they adapt to new roles.

If possible, organize a pre-internship meeting to honor the new interns and serve light refreshments to create a celebratory mood. Former interns could address the group about their experiences followed by a Q & A session. Emphasize that the interns are a select group and the Career Center is proud of them, building the students’ sense of self-confidence. To show your support, present each new intern with a care package that could include a notebook, pen, breath mints, and a health bar. If the budget allows, include a university mug or tote bag.

To ease any intern fears of being unprepared, you might want to review the skills that each intern will need at his/her internship site. If the intern’s skill level, such as IT skills, is not up to par, arrange for the intern to receive help before the internship begins. Or if the intern assignments involve writing, you could make sure that he/she has a grammar book.

Since unforeseen issues may arise during the internship, arrange for each of your new interns to have a student mentor who has already been an intern and will offer advice. The mentor can be from any major or have interned in a different company as long as he/she is willing to share insights. Or you might have already set up an online support group for the new interns, enabling them to communicate among themselves during the internship period. They can ask questions about problems that arise on the internships and compare solutions. Also, let the new interns know that you or someone on your staff will be in contact with them on a regular basis. Set up the schedule ahead of time, allaying any intern fears of being isolated. Finally, encourage the new interns to email or call you whenever they have questions.

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