We know that internship programs are an essential component of many organizations: providing valuable opportunities for students and young professionals to gain hands-on experience, develop skills, and explore potential career paths. However, the success of an internship program depends not only on the tasks and projects assigned to the interns but hinges on the support and guidance provided by the company. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to set interns up for success by guiding them through their career journey.
With all the work that goes into planning, managing, and coordinating an internship program, how do you ensure that interns continue feeling supported, valued, and motivated? What types of material or content can you share? What types of events can you hold? How can you enlist hiring managers or other team members in this effort? We’ve got you.
In this post, we explore the four essential things you must share with your interns to help them have the most successful and rewarding experience. We’ll also provide tactical ideas and suggestions to consider as you build out or prepare for your incoming cohorts.
Expectations refer to the goals, responsibilities, and behaviors that are required of employees during their time with an organization. By setting clear expectations, interns can better understand their roles, better prioritize their tasks, work more effectively, and give a sense of purpose and direction during their program. We’ve unpacked the importance of setting expectations throughout the job-seeking process… but setting expectations doesn’t stop once Gen Z starts their internship!
Outlining and discussing expectations for their performance (deadlines, deliverables, quality of work, etc.), office behavior and etiquette, communication, and feedback are just some of the ways you can begin setting expectations for interns.
Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and practices that characterize an organization: in short, it’s the personality of an organization or the “how they do things around here” approach. It encompasses everything from the ways employees interact with one another, how decisions are made, and how employees are recognized, to the company’s larger mission, vision, and goals.
Providing a comprehensive understanding of your company culture is imperative for several reasons: it helps interns understand how their role fits into the larger organization, strengthens buy-in, affinity, and loyalty, and enhances your employer brand. Company culture is important to Gen Z, however, we’re not recommending a total company culture overhaul – instead, try highlighting your own, unique culture to provide insights and transparency into what it’s actually like to work at your organization. Here are a few ways you can start:
A Vision for the Future
Generation Z wants a clear idea of career progression - and smart companies are providing the pathway to do so. Since their coming of age, this digital-first generation has embraced the importance of continuous learning and now, it’s a key factor in winning their commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm toward their work.
Simply paying interns isn’t a way to jumpstart their career - discussing an intern’s career trajectory is important in helping them understand how their internship fits into their larger career goals. It can also motivate them to perform at their best and make the most of their time with the company. When discussing career progression, it’s important to be transparent about what opportunities are available within the company, as well as what skills and experience are needed to be considered for those positions. This could include anything from information about upcoming job openings, leadership development or rotational programs, or other career advancement opportunities within the company. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Community & Connection
A sense of belonging is essential to Gen Z: they are a group that values inclusion, diversity, and authenticity. They grew up in a world where technology connects them globally and they have exposure to different cultures and ways of life from a young age. Feeling like they belong means they experience acceptance and value for who they are, regardless of their background, identity, or beliefs. It’s a similar concept to the importance of company culture, which we discuss above.
As a result, when Gen Z feels plugged into a community, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their work, studies, or community. Creating an environment that values diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, respect, and transparency can facilitate a sense of belonging for interns.
By sharing the four essential things discussed above, you can help your interns feel supported, engaged, and valued during their time at your organization. Providing clear expectations, opportunities for growth and learning, and connection and community helps interns have a meaningful, rewarding experience that benefits both parties. Remember - your interns are the future of your company (and the workplace!).
For more insights like these or to take your intern communication and engagement strategies to the next level, get in touch with our team at Abode. Abode is redefining and reimagining the employee onboarding experience: our all-in-one platform helps early-career teams distribute and share information, create community, and outline expectations. Learn more today.