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Internship Success Stories

Erica ChristensenDuring the Spring 2009 semester, Erica Christensen completed her internship with the Air Policy Office at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "I was so lucky with my placement because I was able to experience the changes made by President Obama and witness the growing developments of climate policy. I learned more than I could have imagined and made great connections." She has also completed an unpaid internship with a political campaign and had a paid summer position with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. Christensen plans to attend graduate school for global environmental policy or sustainability.

—Erica Christensen

Orientation of Interns

Develop a thorough orientation and training plan to be implemented when the interns begin work, so they will learn quickly and become productive members of your team. Invest supervisory time to establish an important bond with interns and set a crucial tone for the internship experience.

Prepare for the Intern

•Set up an organized work area for the intern.
•Set up voicemail, PC, email, and Internet access and/or other resources necessary for them to accomplish the tasks you have stipulated in the internship position description.
•Outline work expectations for the duration of the internship.
•Prepare forms to be signed, including a confidentiality agreement, if necessary.
•Plan a tour of the facilities and introduce them to the other employees.
•Give your interns company materials to read such as newsletters, annual reports, an organization chart, or memos from the CEO.

Explain the Mission of the Organization

•How did the organization start? Why?
•What is unique about your product or service?
•Who benefits from your product or service?
•What are the organization’s current objectives?
•How may the intern contribute to those objectives?

Explain the Organization Structure

•Who reports to whom?
•Who, specifically, is the intern’s supervisor?
•What is the intern’s department responsible for?
•How are decisions made?
•Which personnel can answer different kinds of questions?

Outline Organizational Rules, Policies, Decorum and Expectations

•Is there special industry jargon?
•What are the specific work standards and procedures?
•What access to the supervisor (days, times, and duration) does the intern have?
•How should they process requests?
•How do the mail and telephone systems work?
•What are the approved forms of correspondence?
•By what safety regulations must they abide?
•Is there a procedure for signing off completed work?
•What periodic forms or reports need to be completed?
•What local, state, and/or federal guidelines or laws apply to their work?
•Are there security or confidentiality issues the intern should be aware of?
•What is acceptable with regard to dress and appearance?
•How should they maintain the premises and their work area?

Define the Intern’s Responsibilities

•What is the intern’s role?
•What projects will be assigned to him or her?
•What resources are available to the intern?
•What training is necessary?
•How does the organization want the intern to deal with clients and vendors?
•What tasks can be completed without supervisory approval?
•Do other employees understand the intern’s role?

Monitor the Intern’s Adjustment and Understanding of What is Expected

•Make yourself visibly available to the intern.
•Assign someone who can periodically “check-in” with the intern.
•Provide feedback and constructive criticism.
•Encourage the intern to ask questions.
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Last Updated: 1/23/12