Enriching the Internship Experience
When a student intern is matched with your company, you are encouraged to reach out and begin onboarding. You will have several months to make your intern feel welcome and prepare them with clear expectations for a successful experience.
Cover the basics
Have your intern's workspace prepared and share the following information with them before their first day:
- Appropriate dress code
- Building access and security information, if applicable
- Public transportation tips and best routes to access the office
- Procedure for time-off requests or when other changes to the work schedule
- Identify their supervisor and HR professional.
Projects and Learning Goals
- Making the job description available as early as possible will give your intern time to review, ask questions and prepare for the work. Providing examples or overall expectations is a great starting point if the description or outline is tentative.
- A mentor to help guide the intern during their employment can be very helpful if your organization can dedicate the resources to establishing a mentoring relationship.
Give interns real work.
- This is critical to your program's success. Ensure that the project your intern is completing is related to their major, challenging, recognized by the organization as valuable, fills the entire work term, and helps to enhance prospective and increase productivity for you and your company.
- Before the internship begins, review the proposed project with your intern and ask how it aligns with their goals and skills. If it is possible to adjust the project based on the intern's feedback, then discuss these changes.
Showcase your employees and the city.
- Speakers from executive ranks are very popular with students. Students especially enjoy casual interactions designed just for them. This is a great career development and role-modeling experience for interns.
- New-hire panels are also an excellent way to showcase an organization to interns as a great workplace. Ask employees hired as new grads within the last few years to summarize their background, explain their career development path and answer questions.
- Take every chance to help your intern explore the city of Chicago, especially within the engineering, technology and computing community. Describe the opportunities available to new graduates kick-starting their careers in Chicago.
Include your intern in company events and activities.
- Invite your intern to company meetings and events. These are valuable learning experiences for students and make them feel part of the team.
- Allow your intern to attend in-house trainings. These can be formal or informal and should cover technical skills and general advice such as time management. This is a tangible way to show students your interest in their development.
- Ask your intern to join outside-of-work events. These social interactions help students learn how to network, which can often intimidate them.
- Throughout the term, you should schedule time to give your intern feedback on performance and ask about their experience. These should be in addition to regular meetings with a mentor and will allow for adjustments to ensure the best experience on both sides of the internship.
- Give interns a chance to showcase results after the term. Setting up a venue for them to do presentations (formal presentations or in settings such as expos) not only allows them to demonstrate their achievements and showcases the internship program to all employees.
- Conducting an exit interview is an excellent way to gather feedback on the student's experience and to assess their interest in returning. Having the students fill out an exit survey before the interview provides structure for the conversation.
Hiring and Retention
The Grainger College of Engineering encourages corporate partners to extend employment offers to City Scholars interns after their semester internship is completed. The negotiated City Scholars hourly rate no longer applies after the program's conclusion.
As the City Scholars program continues to evolve, The Grainger College of Engineering appreciates all feedback from partner companies. Feedback will be requested at the program's mid-point and conclusion of the semester to assess the following:
- Student performance
- Program satisfaction
- Offers to interns to continue employment with the company