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Good Internships End with Good Offboarding

It’s hard to believe it’s almost August! With the end of the season in sight, many of you will be winding down your time with interns. You may have read our article, “Good Internships Begin with Good Onboarding, about bringing on and familiarizing new interns with their work and your organization. This is a companion piece exploring best practices for a thoughtful offboarding with your interns to conclude their experience.

Offboarding refers to the process of leaving an organization and wrapping up work as employment ends. It’s an important exercise for any staff member but particularly useful to interns since their employment is often short-term. Typically, interns are just starting in their careers or are new to the field, so engaging in an offboarding conversation can further inform their next steps and help them get the most from their experience. It can also be a helpful practice to reflect on your own management and internship programming.

We recommend setting up a time, perhaps a week in advance of the final end date, for an offboarding or end-of-term review with your intern. If possible, schedule this as a separate meeting from your regular check-in so you can dedicate the full time to talking about the internship as a whole. Prior to the meeting we advise sending reflection questions to your intern so they can engage in some thinking ahead of time about their internship. Keep in mind for many interns this may be their first experience providing and receiving formal feedback, so having advance notice can help prevent interns from feeling put on the spot, and gives them the opportunity to prepare and organize their thoughts. As a starting point, consider asking your intern the following questions:

  • Which goals/projects would you consider successful/completed?
  • Which goals/projects did not meet their targets? Please give some consideration as to why this may be the case.
  • Please identify three (or more) learnings, takeaways, etc. from your time at the organization.
  • What was your favorite part of your internship?
  • What was your least favorite part of the internship?
  • Do you have any suggestions or comments about our working relationship, the organization culture, or anything else related to your time as an intern?

Ask your intern to submit these responses to you in advance so you can review before your meeting and determine where your feedback for them may be aligned or different.

As you prepare your own feedback for your intern, be sure to balance celebrations of strengths with reflections on areas for development. We put together these questions for supervisors to help you get started:

  • Which goals/projects would you consider successful/completed?
  • Which goals/projects did not meet their targets? Please give some consideration as to why this may be the case.
  • Identify three (or more) strengths that you feel your intern brought to the team. Be specific.
  • Identify any recommendations for professional growth/development for your intern. Did you notice any particular growth areas? Offer feedback on development areas as well as actionable tips for where or how to seek out those growth opportunities.

These questions can help guide your conversation and make space for feedback from both you and your intern. Part of the reason we recommend having this debrief prior to the last day is to provide your intern with the opportunity to put some of your feedback into action. Additionally, if this conversation surfaces any goals that are not on-track, there is some time to strategize about adjusting priorities in the remaining week so that tasks are completed and in a good place when your intern departs.

We wish you all the best as you close out the internship season. If you’re considering hiring interns again soon, we’re ready to help! Log in now to get started.

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