Wittenberg recognizes that the contributions of the site supervisor to the internship partnership are substantial. Just as the intern seriously commits time, energy and skills to work which benefits your organization, you, as site supervisor, are asked to devote the same to the intern's growth and learning in the workplace. Wittenberg appreciates your efforts.
Characteristics of a Quality Internship Site
- A position description completed prior to the start of the internship
- Realistic and pre-professional goals, tasks, and/or projects (less than 50% "go-fer" or clerical work)
- Opportunities to apply principles learned in and outside the classroom
- Conscientious orientation/training that includes introduction to company culture and office procedures, and training for specific work/projects
- On-going structured supervision with opportunities for constructive feedback and questions
- Opportunities to observe and participate with professionals in action (staff meetings, client meetings, presentation, etc.
- Opportunities to talk with professionals in the department about their jobs and career paths
- Opportunities to develop specific skills (i.e. research, writing, computer, and presentation skills)
- Evaluation of overall experience
- A sense of closure through recognition of intern contributions, reflection on learning experiences, and wrap-up of on-going projects
- Follow-up, in the form of letters of recommendation, networking, etc., if requested
Guidelines for the Site Supervisor
In several respects the selection of an intern and the communication of work expectations are similar to those of a full-time employee. Your role in the internship experience should include the following:
- Provide a description of the internship which defines its scope and goals as well as the student's responsibilities, hourly requirements, and the skills necessary for completing the internship
- Interview the student and communicate during the interview all expectations
- Inform the student of required safety standards, statements of confidentiality, special organization rules, and legal requirements
- Review the objectives for the internship with the student
- Sign the Internship Agreement form
- Coordinate with the faculty supervisor and keep the supervisor informed of the student's progress
- Evaluate the intern as requested by the faculty internship supervisor or the intern
Working with Interns
The first weeks of an internship should be devoted to orienting the student intern. The intern can be more easily assimilated into the work site if someone spends time introducing him or her to the work setting, and to the individuals with whom he or she will be working. Such specifics as: 1) the rules for acceptable dress and appearance; 2) the standards for working with clients and customers; 3) the reasons for creating a consistent work schedule that both you and the student can depend upon; 4) safety regulations; 5) security issues; and 6) any incidental flexible work hours should be explained to the student intern for the smoothest possible transition.
2. Meeting with the Intern
Meeting with the intern on a regular basis is the best way to assure a mutually satisfactory and beneficial internship. Any issues of concern should be discussed at the same time. At each meeting the supervisor should discuss the intern's progress and job performance.
3. Contact with the Faculty Supervisor
Keeping in contact with the faculty supervisor through telephone calls, site visits, and/or progress reports is important and helpful to all parties. If difficulties arise - i.e. the intern arrives late to work or fails to produce satisfactory work - and early efforts on your part fail to solve the problem, you should contact the faculty supervisor. Clearly, it is important to handle small problems early rather than wait for end of the semester evaluation. Immediate attention to a concern allows for corrective action and provides the student intern with the opportunity to learn.
Evaluation should be a continual process. It does not need to be formal. Like most of us, the intern works best when given regular feedback about what is expected. The intern should know when he/she is doing a good job as well as when they are not. Also, many site supervisors encourage interns to give them feedback.