Tips for Being a Field Period / Internship Supervisor
Hosting an intern is a wonderful and exciting thing to do. Interns can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the things you deal with every day. They are beginning to develop themselves as a professional, and gain the soft and hard skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
As a supervisor, you will lead them through this development, while providing them opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. With proper planning and dedication to the overall internship experience, you will not only provide your intern with a successful learning experience, but will enhance your own leadership and mentoring skills.
Prepare for your intern’s arrival:
An intern is not only looking to learn new skills, but learn about the structure of an organization. You may want to prepare an “intern kit” of some basic informational materials about your organization: staff directory, organizational chart, annual report, and publications; along with a welcoming note for him/her.
Designate a workspace for your intern, providing the materials necessary for him/her to complete the tasks you assign.
Have a pre-internship discussion with your intern about what he/she hopes to learn through the experience, and then have some set projects for him/her to assist with or take on during the internship.
Brief the other staff members prior to your student’s arrival; ensure they are aware of the intern’s role, and their role in helping supervise/mentor the intern.
Become acquainted with your intern:
Provide a one-on-one orientation to familiarize the student with his/her new surroundings, and to establish basic expectations for the internship. Cover any rules, regulations, and office protocol the intern is expected to follow.
Since you will be an individual the student will look up to, provide him/her with some information about your own career history and aspirations. Ask him/her to share his/her career aspirations as well.
Be cognizant of the process your intern is going through:
Your intern may be experiencing a totally new work environment and may be unsure of how to handle certain situations. Be prepared to offer guidance and insight in areas that you consider common sense.
Provide a mentor for your intern:
We have all benefited from the support and direction of a mentor at some point in our lives. Offering your intern the opportunity to connect with another professional within your organization is a great learning experience for the intern and the mentor. There are two approaches you can take to mentoring:
Pair the intern with a newer professional, someone younger and closer to having experienced some of the same things your intern will be experiencing. This mentor can provide the student with some raw insight into what it takes to be successful as a young professional. It is also a great opportunity for you to provide that professional with some leadership experience.
Pair the intern with a veteran staff member who fully understands and has shown great commitment to the organization. This person can show the intern the ins and outs of your organization, and can assist with supervising and leading the intern when you are unavailable.
Provide experiential learning opportunities for your intern:
Your intern will come to the Field Period with a learning contract. On this contract the intern has outlined what he/she hopes to learn through the experience in the form of learning goals and learning objectives. Discuss this contract with your intern and ensure that you and he/she develops a plan for achieving the goals and objectives.
Provide your intern with feedback:
Feedback is vital to your intern’s learning experience. The student wants and needs to know when he/she does something well or messes up. Constructive feedback, which offers suggestions for being successful in the future, is best.
Honesty is still always the best policy. Honest feedback that informs the intern of how the “real world” would respond to his/her work and actions is important .
Evaluate the internship experience:
In order for the intern and your organization to get something out of the experience, we ask that you complete an evaluation at the end of the internship. By evaluating the internship experience and your approach to supervision, etc., you can improve your program for future interns and employees
Free NYSCEEA Membership
Keuka College will proudly sponsor all employers interested in, and not currently a member of, the New York State Cooperative and Experiential Education Association (NYSCEEA) for one year of free membership. NYSCEEA is an organization of colleges and employers with a focus on best practices in experiential education and recruiting.
For more information on NYSCEEA visit http://www.nysceea.org. If you are interested in this free membership, contact Anne Marie Guthrie..
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