This blog post has tips for employers as internships wrap up. One of the most important things you can do at the end of an internship is provide constructive feedback, to help interns take the next steps in their career journey.
Image of Charlie Gavey delivering a great talk at OWASP last year about stages of learning, competencies and professional development.
In the last few weeks of an internship, there can be a frenzy of activity as your intern works to finish off projects and make the most of their experience. In the midst of all this, we suggest managers & mentors take some time to think & act on some key wrapping up activities. Off-boarding is just as important as on-boarding employees, for you, for them, and for your organisation’s employment brand!
As with any employee, the first few weeks in a role should be full of feedback! At the end of the internship (or project) is the time for a proper review & feedback meeting.
If you don’t have a formal performance review process, or if the thought of this makes you shudder, then we reckon you’re not doing it right! Open & genuine conversations with your team about their work is the only way they’re going to improve. Especially juniors.
Here’s some areas that might be good to talk about:
overall feedback – how did it go for you/for them/for your organisation?
specific feedback – on their skills, competencies & work behaviours
results – what they’ve been working on and how it will be used
tips for future learning/development
tips for future career path
You’re in a great position to advise on career paths, next steps & focus areas.
Don’t forget to flip the review – your intern(s) will have valuable feedback for you, too!
If you want to retain your intern in a part time or full time capacity after their internship, NOW would be a great time to talk to them about it! Otherwise, they may be applying for roles elsewhere, and you could miss out on the payback of the training you’ve invested.
Be clear about your budget/positions available, and what the application process will be for them. If you can transition them into a permanent or contract role, GREAT, but if they need to apply for a role, let them know what the process is.
If you don’t have anything available right now, but want to keep in touch, let them know about that, too!
If your intern is returning to study this year, then they may be available for part time work during term time, and full time during the breaks. If that works for your organisation, you could chat about that as well. Some students can handle up to 20 hours work per week during term time, but it really depends on course load and other commitments they may have.
We don’t recommend remote working for internships themselves, but now that you’ve worked with them for 10 weeks, there may be some work you can get them to do – have a think, and discuss it with them if that’s a good pathway for you both.
If you’re not keen or not able to keep them on, it would be fantastic if you can have a career/next steps chat with them anyway. Maybe you can suggest areas they could focus on for learning & development, or potential jobs/career paths & other organisations that might be a good fit for them.
Regardless of whether you’re keeping your intern, being a Referee or writing a LinkedIn recommendation for them is a hugely valuable thing to offer. You could talk about this during your final feedback/career chat.
Internships provide valuable content for an early-career CV/Resume, so you can be confident your intern will be writing something up for their CV! We recommend that you help them write it – or at least offer to review what they’ve written. You can help them craft a non-commercially-sensitive but descriptive & realistic portrayal of their role. Their CV is likely to be read by hundreds of people over the next few years, so it’s great if you can help them communicate what their role entailed.
The New Zealand tech community is a village, so as your intern steps out into their career they will be representing your company, forever! Please invest some time in the off-boarding process! A good wrap up means interns leave with constructive feedback, pride in their work, and confidence that you’ve set them up for the best possible next step in their tech career.
That was our 4 “R’s” of (W)rapping up internships! Get in touch if you have questions, and thank you for your investment in interns. With your help, we have another 200+ SoT alumni leaping into the NZ tech talent pool!