It's the end of the summer and if you have a summer internship program, it means it is time to say farewell to summer interns! Summer interns are a great asset to a company. Therefore, it is important to leave a positive, lasting impression on the interns that are leaving. Before the last day, conduct an evaluation, work on their portfolios, prepare them long-term, and celebrate them going into their fall semester.
Conduct an Internship Evaluation
Internships are a learning experience and the time to develop knowledge before going into the real world as a full-time employee. Therefore, interns need feedback on their work. The best way of giving interns feedback is with an internship evaluation. The first decision is if this evaluation should be formal or casual. A formal evaluation will take place as a scheduled meeting, with note-taking, and their projects are shown. A casual evaluation can be over lunch and speaking more in general terms. It doesn't matter which format, but that the interns get the adequate information that they need going forward. If an internship is for college credits, colleges typically require an internship evaluation form to be filled out.
While most evaluations will be the employer speaking to the intern, make sure to gauge the interns' experience by asking questions.
- Was this internship what you expected it to be?
- What was your favorite part of this internship?
- What was your least favorite part of this internship?
- What skills did you gain from this internship?
- How do you plan to apply those skills in the future?
- What skills do you wish you could have worked on?
But, keep in mind that an internship evaluation is different than an exit interview. There can be some overlap between the two. An internship evaluation focuses on the intern, while exit interviews gain information on the internship experience and program.
Help Interns Build a Portfolio
As an intern, this is a college student's first time gaining real-world work experience instead of hypotheticals given in college. As they complete projects, they will want to put those in their portfolios to share the learning opportunities they had and the new skills they gained during the internship. That portfolio can be used to get their next internships or their entry-level position following graduation.
But, organizations can be protective of projects that include sensitive data. Some organizations do not allow any projects to be used in a portfolio. If projects are allowed to be placed in portfolios, help interns do so. These projects can encompass what they learned but should be mindful of protected information.
Prepare Interns Long Term
A part of internships is preparing the interns for long-term success. If their manager or co-worker is willing to be a reference for future work, let the intern know that. Share your best contact information by phone and email. Employees should add the intern on LinkedIn and stay in touch that way.
Connect the intern with other employees who have similar interests and career goals as them. That employee can share their insights on how to plan out a timeline for the next steps the intern should take.
Celebrate Interns Leaving
Many interns leave an intern program feeling like loose ends weren't wrapped up. Work gets busy, but make sure to celebrate the intern's last day by giving them a proper farewell. A great way of doing so is sending out a company or team-wide email, sharing the details on what the intern is doing in the fall. This leaves a great impression if the company decides to offer them a full-time position down the road.
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