You’ve been begging your boss to hire a summer intern to help you and the staff. The boss finally said “yes”, you successfully recruited and your top candidate accepted. Clear sailing from here, right? Not quite yet.
Take it from me—a hiring manager for the last three years at Quill and the mom of two intern- age kids—preparation is the key. It can mean the difference between a productive summer or a wasted one and between an intern who will or will not go on to become your company’s biggest advocate back at school.
Follow this simple action plan to start the summer off on the right foot (whether you’re a small office with one intern or a larger company with a formal internship program).
Check out a short cheat sheet at the end to help you understand the Millennial Generation. Take it from me, it’s way more than just knowing texting acronyms and how to “gram.” Let’s get started.
Weeks Prior To Their Arrival
- Order any necessary equipment and supplies (name plate, office supplies).
- Email your team members letting them know that a summer intern is starting, when they will arrive, and what their responsibilities will be.
- Call the student to welcome them to the team and answer any questions prior to arrival. Tell them where to park, whom to ask for, what the dress code is, etc.
- Set up a workspace. Post a welcome sign in their workspace, signed by team members. Set up their office supplies. Make it look festive.
- Add your intern to any applicable email distribution lists so that they stay in the know all summer long.
- Consider assigning them to a buddy who is not their hiring manager—that one go-to person who’s closer in age to them who they would feel comfortable asking embarrassing questions, grabbing a bite to eat, etc.
- If there’s a formal orientation, escort them to the room. Introduce them to a few people and tell them where to meet you afterwards.
- Give a tour of your area (include copier, fax, printer, restrooms, first aid, kitchenette, elevators).
- Provide an overview of the structure of your department and provide relevant reference materials (org charts).
- Introduce the student to the rest of the team members and schedule one-on-one meetings with each.
- Coordinate a team breakfast or luncheon in their honor.
- Provide them with usernames and passwords for network and application access
- Review applications and systems being used and provide any applicable user guides.
- Inform them of upcoming department meetings.
- Review how to keep track of their hours, breaks, lunch hours, etc.
- Review specific departmental expectations.
- Review the job description.
- Set specific goals, objectives and timelines.
- Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings.
- Go over your company’s brand promise and values (specific to your department).
Sit down with the intern halfway through the summer to discuss how their projects are progressing, job performance, questions, etc.
Formal evaluation of their work, feedback of their experiences, etc.
Plan one or two fun activities throughout the summer to keep your intern engaged and feeling appreciated (after work outing or lunch with leadership).
Preparing for the Millennial Generation
The generation born between 1980 and 2000 is referred to as the “Millennial” generation. It is also sometimes referred to as “Generation Next,” “Generation Y,” and “Gen Y.”
Be prepared for:
- Confidence. Raised by parents believing in the importance of self-esteem, they characteristically consider themselves ready to overcome challenges.
- Hopefulness. They’re described as optimistic yet practical. They believe in the future and their role in it. They’ve read about businesses with basketball courts, stockrooms stocked with beer for employees and companies that pay your way through school. They expect a workplace that is challenging, collaborative, creative and fun.
- A focus on goals and achievements. Many Millennials arrive at their first day of work with personal goals on paper.
- Civic-mindedness. They were taught to think in terms of the greater good. They expect companies to contribute to their communities—and to operate in ways that create a sustainable environment.
- Inclusiveness. Millennials are used to being organized in teams—and to making certain no one is left behind. They expect to earn a living in a workplace that is fair to all, where diversity is the norm.
- Technical Savvy. They’ve used technology throughout their developmental years. It’s a part of who they are.
Here are their six most frequent requests:
- You be the leader. This generation has grown up with structure and supervision. Millennials are looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. It’s not that they don’t want to be leaders themselves; they’d just like some great role models first.
- Challenge me. Millennials want to be assigned real, meaningful work and projects they can learn from. They’re looking for growth, development, a career path.
- Let me work on a team. Employers who provide for the social aspects of work will find those efforts well rewarded by this newest cohort.
- Let’s have fun. A little humor or a bit of silliness will make your work environment more attractive.
- Respect me. “Treat our ideas respectfully,” they ask, “even though we haven’t been around a long time.”
- Be flexible. The busiest generation ever isn’t going to give up its activities just because of jobs.
It is imperative to provide a positive experience because…
After the student’s experience is complete at your company, they will return to campus. They WILL BE an ambassador or adversary to your company, depending on the environment you provide for them. As college campuses are extremely viral communities, students will discuss their experience with their professors, friends, classmates and university staff. Therefore it is imperative that you provide an internship program that is rewarding for both the organization and the student.
As I wrap up, let me take off my “company hiring manager” hat for a minute and speak from the mom point of view. There is nothing more heartwarming than to hear what a great experience your son/daughter is having at their summer internship. I’ve gotten those texts…”mom, they had donuts for me this morning when I first walked in!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (yes, they use a million exclamation points) or “mom, they really respect my opinions and even said they’ll try out one of my ideas.” That goes a long way toward shaping their future work experiences once they get in the real world. And, it sure goes a long way for me, as the mom, in how I view this company from this point on.
Happy summer internship! Let us know if you have any other tips you’ve used in the past. Now go find some colored paper and markers and spend five minutes making your intern the most awesome welcome banner in the world.
- Connecting Generations: The Sourcebook by Claire Raines
- NACE the Employer’s Guide to College Recruiting and Hiring
- Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program by Michael True