Over the next eight weeks, hundreds of thousands of college-age students will start to look ahead to the summer months, and for many, this means finding a rewarding internship. From paid internships in the finance, technology and engineering fields to unpaid gigs running errands for independent filmmakers, college-age students crave meaningful work-related opportunities and with good reason. Getting a full-time job upon graduation increasingly is contingent on having already completed one or more internships. For organizations, bringing on interns can be a great way to breathe new energy into the workplace, cover summer holiday absences, and even spot young talent who can be recruited to fill future full-time positions, but interns also need to be carefully trained and managed. Today’s post outlines just a few training essentials for your 2017 interns and explores how to use a learning management system to start training your interns long before they arrive in the workplace.
Train Your Interns Online Before they Arrive on the Job
Interns are a unique demographic. They are usually only on site for 8 to 12 weeks, often arrive with little or no professional experience, and as a result, require additional support and feedback. While it may be tempting to reduce the scale of their training, since there is less likelihood that one’s investment in training an intern will yield a long-term return, this is a mistake. Not only does skimping on training reduce the value of the internship experience, it puts organizations at risk by increasing the likelihood of security and compliance errors.
Leveraging your learning management system, it is possible to roll out intern-specific training programs and best of all, one can start training summer interns long before they arrive in the workplace. If you plan to hire your summer interns by late March, plan to start your intern training program by early April. This will not only make onboarding interns easier in early May but also ensure that they are ready to hit the ground running when they arrive. The cost of offering more extensive and rigorous training online is also much lower than freeing up face-to-face time once they arrive. Below, we suggest five target areas to consider including in your Training Essentials for 2017 Interns package.
Essentials Training Courses for Interns
What to Wear and How to Behave
It may seem basic, but for many interns, who have never before held a job or spent time in a professional setting, something as basic as choosing an appropriate outfit can be challenging. While some interns arrive looking like they came directly from a party the night before, others overdress and turn out looking like a funeral director from another era. From crop tops to septum piercings to old suits that appear to have been pulled out of a grandparent’s closet, interns have a reputation for missing the mark when it comes to proper business attire, body language and social skills.
To get started, consider adding What to Wear: The Business Casual Dress Code and Your Body Talks to your Training Essentials for Your 2017 Interns package. Polish Your Interpersonal Skills is also highly recommended.
Time Management for Dummies
If you show up 20 minutes late for a college lecture, the consequences may be relatively low. If you show up 20 minutes late for work, the consequences are different. The same holds true for missing entire days of work. For many first-time interns, the biggest take-away from an internship is learning about time management and accountability to a larger team. For this reason, time management is key part of any training program. On the one hand, it is important to emphasize that showing up on time and deadlines really do matter. On the other hand, it is important to help interns discover tricks and hacks to prioritize their workload.
Basic Oral and Written Communication Skills
College-age students often already have great writing and communication skills, but even those who do may not appreciate that in a professional setting, communication often takes a different form. Pontificating about Plato, Derrida or Marx in the lunch room is likely not going to go over well in most workplaces. Likewise, taking 2 hours to draft a short email will be seen as a problem no matter how eloquent the prose. At the same time, hammering off a message full of typos in the wrong tone (e.g., “Hey, hows it going? Their was a problem with you’re file. Resend it!”) will not gain any kudos in the workplace either.
To give your summer interns a head start on professional communications, consider adding Customer Service Essentials, What to Say When: A Workplace Communication Series or one of more of the following written communication courses to your Training Essentials for Your 2017 Interns package:
- Grammar Rules: Business Writing Made Simple
- Writing Clear, Effective Business Letters
- Writing Clear, Effective Business E-Mail
- Writing Clear, Effective Memos
- Writing Clear, Informative Reports
Diversity in the Workplace
Understanding how to work in a diverse workplace is essential. While many of today’s interns arrive in the workplace with a complex understanding of diversity issues, don’t assume that young employees have nothing left to learn. Depending on their on campus context (e.g., a liberal arts college versus engineering program), they may arrive with or without a broad range of biases and assumptions. Troubleshoot any potential problems upfront by adding one or more courses on diversity to your training essentials for interns package, including Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts or Diversity: On the Threshold of Change.
Other Workplace and Career Essentials
Taking on interns is good for organizations but also good for the broader economy and future workforce. While you may hire back some interns, in most cases, you’re simply preparing them for future work. Weaving key work skills into your training package is also highly recommended. The following courses can help your interns make the most of their internship and prepare them for future opportunities:
- Seven Secrets to Door-Opening Resumes and Cover Letters
- Overcoming the Deadly Dozen Obstacles to Effective Job Hunting
- How to Ace Every Job Interview
- Networking for Job Search Success and Career Growth
- How to Sell Yourself and Your Ideas
- Accelerating Your Job Search with LinkedIn
Ready to get started? Click here to open an eLeap account or contact us by email or phone to explore how best to build and roll out a summer intern training package now.