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Intern Onboarding Checklist

Intern Onboarding Checklist

A comprehensive checklist for managers onboarding interns.
Why use an intern onboarding checklist?:
Before the starting date:
Send confirmation letter
Set up workspace
Notify staff
Schedule induction
Set up accounts
Assign mentor
Set up an intern manual:
Show company profile
Provide position profile
Outline company policies
Explain etiquette
Set up timesheet
Start day:
Tour facility
Conduct orientation meeting
Give access
Familiarize with equipment
Give safety orientation
Get confirmation
Formal intern evaluation:
Conduct competency evaluation
Conduct academic evaluation
Informal weekly check-ins:
Prepare questions and answers
Assign projects
Estimate workload
Get feedback

Why use an intern onboarding checklist?:

77% of all new hires who hit their first performance milestone have had official onboarding training.

At the same time, more than a third of companies spend $0 during the onboarding process.

These statistics show onboarding turns new hires into productive and competent employees in record time, saving the company time and money.

But who has time to go through hundreds of different materials about intern onboarding? You are a business person and interns should make your workflow easier, not harder.

Hiring and onboarding a new employee is never an easy task. There are forms, signatures and information you will need to prepare for them. It’s easy to forget some of the details and make the process inefficient. 

A great way to ensure you have ticked all the boxes (literally) is by having a comprehensive intern onboarding checklist that will guide you step-by-step through the process, which is directly after hiring.

Before the starting date:

Send confirmation letter

In the confirmation letter include the most relevant information as shown in the template below. However, there is additional information you might want to include, such as:

  • A copy of the internship agreement
  • HR documents that need to be signed before arrival
  • Dress code
  • Anything they might need to bring along
  • Information on entering the building, such as door code

Set up workspace

Ensure the workstation is set up for the intern to use. Make sure it is located in a room with the rest of the team and close to the mentor for easy communication.

Set up their desk including:

  • Computer
  • Phone
  • Pens
  • Notebook
  • Lamp (optional)

Notify staff

  • Notify the office administrator and ask them to ensure everything is set up for the intern to start work.
  • Contact IT to grant permission for the intern to access the necessary systems.
  • Remember to send out an email to the team a day before the intern arrives to let them know the intern is starting. Include in the email information about the intern and their responsibilities.

You can easily notify staff by adding an event to their Google Calendar.

For more information, see How to Manage Small Business Calendars in the Cloud.

(Source: openviewpartners.com)

Schedule induction

Contact the person responsible for each department to ensure they select a time on the day the intern arrives to fill them in on how they will fit into work at the office. 

Departments, people, and areas to cover are:

  • HR to oversee paperwork
  • Team member (in most cases mentor) to give the intern a tour
  • Team leader to introduce to the company
  • Mentor to explain day-to-day tasks, procedures and introduce the tools used

(Source: openviewpartners.com)

Set up accounts

Set up their accounts on any systems they will need access to before they have arrived to ensure the intern(s) can get to work without any interruptions or delays. The main areas are:

  • Email
  • CRM
  • Slack / IM service
  • Personal voicemail (optional)

Adjust this list according to your company’s needs.

(Source: openviewpartners.com

Assign mentor

Having a mentor is highly beneficial for both the company and the intern. It’s a cost effective, hands-on approach that will ensure the intern is motivated and high-performing.

The mentor should ensure that everything is ready before the intern arrives, provide assistance with technical equipment, explain the job expectations, assign jobs to the intern, notify of relevant staff training and include the intern in staff meetings that might be beneficial.

Due to the responsibilities of the mentor you should ensure the following is discussed:

  • Development goals for the intern
  • Expectations that both people seek from the relationship
  • Schedule for formal meetings and co-working
  • Confidentiality
  • Duration of the mentoring relationship

(Source: welfare.ie)

Set up an intern manual:

Show company profile

Interns who are familiarized with the company early are more productive and adapt sooner.

Company profile will help the intern familiarize themselves with the company they work in. It will ensure the intern understands who the company is, where they come from and most importantly, where they are headed. 

Include the following information:

  • Organizational overview
  • Historical information
  • Company mission statement
  • Primary product or service and positioning
  • Biographical consumer information
  • Visual representation of business structure
  • Company organizational chart
  • Information on other offices or branches
  • Information on retail locations
  • Public perception
  • Recent news

Most of the information (sales brochure, the company website, the company profile) already exists, o sthe task mainly includes putting it all in one comprehensive file.

Adobe company profile excerpt:

(Source: internships.com)

Provide position profile

A job position profile works as a confirmation. You review the job responsibilities as well as clarify the missing information. Include:

  • Position title/department            
  • Supervisor name and title     
  • Intern start and end date       
  • Compensation (if applicable)
  • Additional perks/benefits (if applicable)
  • Requirements
  • Academic credit (whether received or not)
  • Name of school
  • Name of faculty sponsor (their phone an email)
  • Required number of hours per week
  • Days/times (if set)
  • General scope of responsibility
  • Other position‐specific information

Some fields will have to be filled by the intern. Make sure they know they can turn to their mentor or the HR department for help. 

(Source: internships.com)

Outline company policies

The company policy template may vary depending on your policies; however most of the categories should be included to ensure there are no misunderstandings. Company policy should include:

  • Business and Regulatory Conduct
  • Human Resources
  • Company Directory
  • Accounting and Payroll
  • Computers and Networks
  • Office Services
  • Facilities, Safety, and Security
  • Manager Resources

Don’t forget to include any intern-specific policies you might have.

(Source: connectsus.com)

Explain etiquette

Keep in mind that the intern is most likely new to the workforce. Being new to the company can be worrying enough. Make sure it is easier by explaining the company etiquette. 

Tip: Ask yourself what you wish someone had told you on your first day of work about the company etiquette.

(Source: internships.com)

Set up timesheet

This step is optional if you have an automated time keeping system set up. If you need to set up a time-sheet make sure you include this information:

  • Name of intern and supervisor
  • Date
  • Daily time log section (check in, check out, lunch in, lunch out)
  • Total weekly hours (regular, overtime and double-time)
  • Signature (intern and supervisor)
  • Date

Here’s a template you can print out:

(Source: internships.com)

If you’re managing timesheets electronically, give ding.io a try.

Start day:

Tour facility

Greet the intern and offer them a tour of the office. During the tour:

  • Show them the main areas (workspace, kitchen, lavatories etc.)
  • Introduce them to the mentor
  • Introduce them to the rest of the staff (administrator, HR, IT, security guard, colleagues)
  • Provide the manual
  • Ensure you answer their questions

Alternatively, you can have the mentor do the tour.

Conduct orientation meeting

You want to make sure the intern feels comfortable and feels the company is an exciting place to be. Here are some tips on how to make it happen:

  • Make sure they are having fun whilst getting to know their colleagues
  • Productivity decreases when a person is hungry – provide food for the meeting
  • The intern has new names to learn and a manual to read; make sure you don’t overflow them with information
  • Make sure you remind them of the topics you spoke about in the induction
  • Make sure that you provide relevant information to the intern

During this meeting you can give the intern a manual and briefly go over it. Make sure you clearly communicate your expectations about timelines, confidentiality and professionalism.

(Sources: teambonding.com & jobs.ca.gov & forbes.com)

Give access

During the first day your intern will need to soak up a lot of information about the office. It is important not to forget the basics – they need to be able to freely access the office during the working hours, make sure they have:

  • Badges
  • ID cards
  • Security codes
  • Key cards
  • Keys

Your office might not require all of these items; therefore this step is individual for each company. A good way to determine which items your intern needs is by tracing your steps in the morning as you enter the office. How do you get to your desk? What do you use to enter the office? Make sure your intern has the means.

Familiarize with equipment

You have probably stated what equipment your intern should be familiar with when you posted the job description. The intern will most likely feel comfortable using the computer, the phone, calculator but there will be some equipment your intern might not be familiar with.

Showing how to use modern office equipment will not only ensure a smooth workflow for the intern but will serve as a perk in the job. Many interns find learning how to operate new equipment exciting.

(Source: The Internship Bible & internships.com)

Give safety orientation

Like any other employee joining your company, your intern will need to know the basic safety information, make sure you fill them in on the following details:

  • Company Safety Rules

  • Health and Safety

  • Potential hazards

  • Emergency procedures

  • Toxic Products

  • Emergency Notification Form

  • Emergency Evacuation

  • Injury and Illness rules

  • Health and Safety Committee

  • Rights and responsibilities

  • Emergency contact

You should also ask if your intern has taken any previous safety training and at the end of it ensure he/she signs the necessary forms and documents.

(Source: ccohs.ca)

Get confirmation

Once the intern is filled in on the office policies, introduced to the staff and taught all the basics of how your office works, go over the confirmation letter again. See if the intern has any follow up questions

Make sure the forms and agreements are signed, you have all the necessary documents and information and your intern is fully aware of their duties

Given the amount of documents and information that needs attention you may ask an HR representative to be present to ensure all areas are covered.

Formal intern evaluation:

Conduct competency evaluation

Make sure to regularly review your intern’s progress. Set up a meeting with the intern to go through the evaluation form together. Ensure the intern is informed of the reasons of his/her score.

Create a safe and friendly atmosphere to ensure the intern feels comfortable to ask questions. They are allowed to make notes and keep the copy of the evaluation form.

When discussing areas that need improvement – make sure you explain to the intern how they can improve. Give clear instructions.

At the end of the interview ask your intern to summarize their flaws as well as strengths.

(Source: internships.com)

Conduct academic evaluation

You might hire an intern that is fresh out of university, but sometimes you will find a great intern who is still getting their degree. In that case, you might have to fill in an evaluation form for their place of study

It is important for the intern to receive this evaluation as it might become beneficial in them acquiring the degree. Usually the evaluation is relevant to the skill set the intern will need in their academic life. 

When filling out this evaluation be fair and objective.

(Source: internships.com)

Informal weekly check-ins:

Prepare questions and answers

During the meeting both of you should participate in both asking and answering questions. First see if the intern has any questions to ask. Make sure you give clear answers and see if the intern has fully understood your explanation.

Encourage the intern to speak about any issues they might have — provide guidance and solutions.

When all the questions are answered you can ask questions to the intern and let them answer. You can ask some of the same questions that you asked during the interview. Some answers might have changed since they started with your company.

Example questions:

  • Does the employee effectively communicate with others?
  • Does the employee adequately perform the functions of their job?
  • How would you rate the quality of the employee’s work?
  • Is the employee capable of working independently with little to no supervision?
  • Does the employee take direction and follow orders well?

Ask questions to see if the intern has understood the explanations you provided earlier. Don’t hesitate to ask follow up questions.

(Sources: looksharp.com & internships.com & chron.com)

Assign projects

Your intern is there to learn the trade and you have picked him/her for a reason. Whilst general administrative tasks are to be expected, make sure you give your intern a meaningful project to work on.

If you are not sure which project would be best you can ask your intern about their career goals, strengths and interests and assign a task accordingly. 

Discuss upcoming projects and answer their questions on current ones. Let them work individually but provide guidance if they need it. Don’t ignore their mistakes but at the same time don’t make it difficult for the intern to approach you when they need help.

(Sources: forbes.comblog.hubspot.com)

Estimate workload

Each business operates differently and there will be times when you might not know yourself of the upcoming workload. However, when possible, give the intern an estimate of upcoming projects and workload, so they can prepare. 

(Source internships.com)

Get feedback

To ensure the intern improves his/her performance you need to give them comprehensive feedback on the tasks they are doing. Give specific suggestions for the improvement and praise their accomplishments.

Recognize the areas of above-average performance and concentrate on their success equally as much as the areas that need improvement.

Use this time for deciding on what the intern is good at and based on the feedback, assign tasks that are different from the previous ones. Your intern is there to learn every aspect of the trade – give them the opportunity to learn as much as they can.

Wufoo is a great way to create custom forms, analyze form data and collect feedback.


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