The University of Warwick has been running its own internship programmes since 2012. We combine our own learning with CIPD and ISE advice to produce good practice that we know leads to productive, motivated interns. We know that the Manager will have the biggest impact on the internship experience, so our advice below outlines the approach we believe will bring the best out in your intern. It is important that there is always a dedicated line manager for you intern.
Interns want to work productively for you and showcase their abilities. You can support this by treating them as a regular employee as far as possible, while recognising that additional guidance is likely to be needed to aid their short-term development (Legislation relating to this: Less Favourable Treatment Regulations 2002).
We ask that where students have been offered an interview for a graduate opportunity or complete study requirements as necessary that students are released for these.
First meeting with line manager
This is a chance for you to get to know each other:
- Learn about previous work experience
- Understand areas of work they enjoy and what they perceive as their strengths
- Discussing expectations on both sides – working hours, dress code, office procedures and practices, how work together
- Sharing overall aims and expected outcome for the project
- Setting SMART work and personal development objectives. Current students can access Warwick's Moodle course Work Experience L&D: Use your work experience to stand out to support with auditing of their skills and setting their development objectives.
- You may also want to reiterate any policies that were covered in the induction (flexible working, home working wellbeing, etc) particularly if they require local interpretation, or will be relevant to their role within the team
This meeting may provide an opportunity for the manager to also reflect on the skills and strengths they can bring, as well as any areas for development in supporting the student, based in the office or remotely.
During the internship – motivation, productivity, confidence and expectations:
Undertake regular review meetings to consider:
- Sharing workplace practices
- Tasks and projects
- Existing and additional project and internship objectives
- New areas for development
Give regular and continuous feedback and guidance:
- Initially, clear guidance will be most appropriate
- After they have grown in confidence, a coaching approach that encourages autonomy will probably get you better results
- Encourage the student to share information and ask questions and reflect on successes, what they have achieved in line with their objectives and areas for development
- Encourage ongoing learning through attendance at team/internal/customer meetings, attending events, join team discussions, shadowing, feedback and coaching
- Appreciate importance of social elements of their experience – shown to be a motivating factor
- Apply normal line management to support wellbeing and address any issues such as absence and performance management, conflict, etc
- Encourage your intern to stay in touch with Warwick’s Student Opportunity team, who can support their learning throughout the internship
- Support students to develop their professional network by facilitating introductions across the organisation, encouraging students to use LinkedIn.
Interns are learning about your industry, and potentially a specific occupational role. Sometimes, they might decide that it’s not for them – try to identify any misunderstanding that might change their mind, but remember that you can still make the most of each other over the rest of the internship, even if it means working to slightly different objectives
If your student is ill, check here to understand if they are entitled to sick pay
Supporting students with disabilities
Reasonable adjustments may need to be organised for an intern with a disability in accessing facilities, training and/or performing the internship. Support may be available from Access to Work