InternshipDiagramIt’s that time of year again – you’re getting ready to open your doors and welcome summer interns into your organization.  They may only be there for a few months, or they may turn into your next new full-time employee.
Your summer intern’s experience can be good or bad, and the role HR takes has an impact on the experience.  It’s highly probable that a lot of your company’s interns won’t really know what HR even is when they start.  Luckily, you have a chance right off the bat to change the way the next generation of the workforce perceives HR – and you can build a great internship program at the same time! 
Orientation and Training
Imagine being thrown into an internship headfirst with minimal direction and no training.  Implement an orientation that all new interns must undergo upon their arrival (even just one day will make a difference) and require all managers to deliver some sort of official training to their new interns.  Not only will it make your interns feel included, but it will also help them acclimate to a corporate environment and set expectations for their experience.
Assign a Mentor
Assign each intern a mentor who is not his manager, but rather another senior employee in the same department.  Mentor programs give interns a safe way to ask questions they wouldn’t ask their manager (no one wants to admit to not understanding a key aspect of their job), to discuss their career goals, and to talk through struggles they may be experiencing with their internship.  
Organize opportunities for your interns to network with employees across the company, both in the intern’s department and beyond.  Interns want to understand the full scope of your business, not just the small piece of the puzzle they might see through their own role.  
It’s important to remember interns are trying to figure out if this is the career path they want to pursue.  Gaining exposure to other roles within your organization can help them make that decision.
Evaluate Often
By waiting until the end of the internship to hear evaluations, HR is missing out on key opportunities to understand and improve the program.  Check in with your company’s interns multiple times throughout their internships.  Continuous feedback will help you make improvements to every aspect of the internship program.
HR has the opportunity to make their interns’ experiences remarkable.  Don’t miss out on yours.