I’m sure that many of us have participated in summer internships through programs like NODA and AUCHO-I. The internship process can and should be an exciting experience for both the host institution and for the intern. It’s a time for learning, personal and professional growth and experiencing a new place. The internship can go by quickly that’s why it’s important for everyone involved to make the most out of it. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare to host or be an intern.
1. Make a plan-you put together a job description and now you have to make it come to life. Not everything can be based on “well whatever the intern wants to experience” the intern will want to experience EVERYTHING! It’s the fun part of being an intern. Ask yourself the following question “when this intern goes back to their school I want them to say this about our institution” Some internships have specific goals like supervision of conferences or orientation support that need to happen but I encourage you to still have a plan for what you want to have this person accomplish. On the flip side if you don’t have something that is predetermined like conferences or orientation be intentional about the projects that your intern is taking on. Make sure they can be completed or have a clear goal in mind. Don’t send them on the quests that have no answer because you want a pair of fresh eyes on a project
2. “Have you met Ted?” One of the first steps to making someone feel welcome is to provide an opportunity for them to meet the people in the neighborhood. One way not to do this is to have the intern randomly introduce themselves or lead them around from office to office. This can be an awkward encounter of the first kind. You can’t lead them around or shove them into someone’s office doorway then what can you do? You can organize a meet and greet. In the years that I supervised AUCHO-I interns I would hold a meet and greet that included bagels and a Noshbox from Einsteins and invite all of the summer staff for a brief meet the interns nibble. This enables them to meet everyone at the same time and provided informal introductions. The calendar request was for no more than 30mins. I took a few minutes and said what the internship was (explained it every year just in case someone forgot or there were new staff members) then turned it over to the interns to intro themselves and mingle. I would end the internship with a similar breakfast to say goodbye. Like a good book a proper internship should have a begging, middle and ending.
3. Buddies from around the way-Another great way to network yourself as well as provide additional resources for your intern is to connect them with colleagues around the way that are also hosting interns. When I was an AUCHO-I intern I was able to attend a regional AUCHO-I intern conference that was put together by the interns in the area. I also visited two other schools in the area while at the impromptu conference. As an intern supervisor I worked with a colleague at a neighboring institution to set up a visit day for our intern that was always well received.
4. Bye Bye Bye-Have your interns present the story of their experience to those they worked and interacted with. I was asked to do this when I was an intern, and it was one of my first outside of the classroom presentations. Being able to articulate what I did in a presentation was a valuable reflection experience. As a supervisor I had my interns do the same thing. About a week before the end the internship they would present their experience to an audience. It was a great way to hear about all the ways that they had connected with people, places and with the department. When given permission I sent the previous year’s internship presentation to the next intern as a resource.
1. Don’t skate to one song and one song only-be open to whatever the experience will bring you. You could be traveling to another part of the country working in a place that you know nothing about. Sit in on any meeting, hang out with people or explore on your own. Take every opportunity to soak it all in. Just being a fly on the wall can teach you a lot about how different departments work to fulfill their mission and values.
2. GOALLLLLL!- Have a clear vision of something that you want to accomplish over the summer. Make sure you share your thoughts with your supervisor so that they can help you accomplish your goal within your other tasks. You decided to do an internship so that you could grow, learn and develop your skill set. Don’t sit back and wait for this to just happen through osmosis. Be proactive in your own development.
3. “Have you met me?” As an intern it’s your perfect opportunity to set up meetings with different offices, directors and vice presidents. Student affairs people love to share the story of their journey with up and coming members of the field. By sending an email to set up a meeting or grabbing lunch you are making someone’s day because they are able to wax poetic about their experiences and offer advice.
4. Bring the beat back-You are going to learn a lot of stuff over the summer that could be helpful to your department. Make sure that you share your experiences and what you learned with your home institution. Sharing ideas and knowledge are how we in our profession continue to advance and grow.
Being an intern and hosting an intern is a great way to continue to expand the knowledge base of our profession. When we are intentional in our planning towards being success hosts and interns everybody wins!