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Good Internships Begin with Good Onboarding

Internship season is around the corner. Many of you are already posting internships on Idealist.org, beginning the interview process or perhaps even extending an offer. Intern hiring requires so much energy it can be easy to think that the work ends there. In fact, good internships hinge on the first few weeks on the job and specifically the onboarding experience.

Onboarding refers to the process of familiarizing and integrating new employees into your organization. For interns, onboarding is especially important because the experience can be one of their first in a professional environment and can shape their habits and career ambitions for years to come. For organizations, a strong onboarding plan can help interns learn quickly and contribute to their internship fully. The process can also support interns to develop the experience they need to be strong potential hires for your organization in the future.

We wanted to take a closer look at internship onboarding from the perspective of an intern. We asked Anjelica, a student at Fordham University and intern with us since February about her first few weeks at Idealist. Here’s what she shared:

How did your manager and other Idealist staff prepare for your work?

  • There were a couple of meetings scheduled for right after I arrived so I could get to know the different people I’d be working with. I also had an email account set up before I got there, and in my inbox were a bunch of different documents with tips and tricks. I was given a few relatively easy tasks to begin easing myself into the work and then was given progressively more difficult responsibilities as I settled into the role.

Were there things you learned about working in an office that you didn’t know before?

  • I’ve had a couple other internships before working at Idealist, but each office environment has been different so it’s a learning experience every time. Idealist has been the most fun and collaborative office I’ve worked in—the layout of the office is very open so I get to chat with my coworkers instead of being tucked away in a cubicle. There are also a few times each week where food is served and everyone in the office comes to eat and hang out so I get to talk with people I don’t usually work on projects with.

What are your favorite things about your internship at Idealist?

  • I love how hands-on I get to be. Idealist Careers, the team I work on, is pretty small—so I’ve really been able to make the role my own. There were a few standard tasks I was assigned when I began my internship, but I’ve also been given the freedom to propose and carry out my own projects. I’m really interested in content analytics, so I talked to my manager, Alexis, about tracking data from our social media accounts and it’s now a part of my weekly responsibilities.

What is something you learned that you think you will take with you in your professional career?

  • I’m definitely going to feel more confident about my experience and my ability to perform in the workplace. At Idealist, I’ve really felt as though I’ve been welcomed and included instead of being “just an intern.” I also have more tangible projects under my belt now—I’ve written a blog, authored social media posts, and created graphics that I can point to as a direct result of my time at Idealist.

We hope Anjelica’s thoughts can help further your thinking about onboarding as you bring on summer interns. As she shared, everything from taking care of email setup before the first day to scaffolding projects to build up to more ownership over time can support a great onboarding and internship experience. Anjelica’s manager, Alexis, reflects, “in remembering some of my own intern experiences I realize how important it is to bring a new intern into the fold in every way possible and to make sure they connect the work they’re doing with the greater mission and purpose of the organization.” She adds, “Of course, it has been a pleasure with Anjelica as she’s a natural fit and a hard worker, but I like to think that the culture here at Idealist combined with a clear onboarding process also played a role in Anjelica’s success with the team.”

You can take a look at one of the blog posts Anjelica wrote for us during her internship here. If reading this article reminds you that you still need to post an internship, there’s still time to log in your account now and post!

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