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On-boarding Summer Interns
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In Touch May2019 Spotlight

Each month the MPACE Professional Development & Education Committee highlights trends in the profession from industry leaders and peer publications.

The following was written by Stella Yuen, Campus Recruiting Program Manager at Armanino LLP.


On-boarding Summer Interns: Advice for Career Services Staff and Employers to Best Support Students in Navigating a Successful Internship

The argument is… who should prepare students for the workforce? Colleges or employers? I say, how about both? Having worked on both sides as a Career Counselor and a Campus Recruiter, I see the gap that lies in student’s professional development and work ethic. However, I feel that each party can work simultaneously to do their part to contribute and best support students in navigating a successful internship. 


At Armanino, I oversee and run our internship program in Los Angeles and understand that an internship is usually a student’s first introduction to the workforce and their future career. It’s important to help them start developing a professional mindset early. As key players in a student’s lives, both Career Services staff and Employers should have a large role in investing in the student to ensure a successful future. Below, you will see a breakdown of how each party can best support students for their internship: 



  • Host an orientation. Make the intern’s first day as memorable as possible. A formal introduction help the intern become familiar with company processes and culture. This will make them feel welcomed into the company instead of feeling the lack of resources throughout their internship.
  • Set expectations. Setting expectations from the beginning allows interns to know what’s expected of them. This can include day-to-day, professionalism, short and long term goals, etc. Clarity leads to more solid results. 
  • Give periodic feedback. This may be the first time the intern is working a formal internship. Provide them feedback - as often as daily or weekly so they can make sure they’re on the right track. Share what they did well and what they could improve on along with guidance for future work. 
  • Invite to department and company events. Make the intern feel like a part of the team/company by inviting them to socials, meetings, group lunches both in and out of the office. Encouraging their involvement helps empower them to become proactive. 
  • Give meaningful work. Interns don’t learn if they only make copies and run coffee all day! Give the intern some tangible work so they have something to take away. Have a conversation with the intern to see what type of work they may be ready for. A reminder to be patient since they won’t know much. 
  • Train the intern! Don’t expect the intern to know anything and make sure to have staff available to train them. It’s a huge part of the internship experience and investing in your people.

While employers prepare for an intern’s arrival, career services professionals can help prepare their students entering into internships as well. 


Career Services Staff:

  • Encourage students to be open minded. Students may come into an internship with expectations of doing a specific task but remind them that they are there to learn everything from the technical aspects to the admin duties. No task is too small because it all contributes to the overall work. 
  • Help develop goals and steps to accomplish them. On the other hand, some students may not know what to expect. It would be helpful for Career Services staff to help develop goals and give suggestions on how to accomplish them throughout the internship. This could be for both hard and soft skills. Have the students reflect on their internship at the end so see what they accomplished and how they grew from the experience.
  • Teach students professionalism. No, crop tops are not acceptable. Many students tend to go to work thinking it’s like going to school. Career staff can help educate students on the proper etiquette to entering a workforce including dress, communication (email, verbal, etc), demeanor and ethics. 
  • Help assess strengths. Help students identify strengths as it relates to their career goals. They can recognize what they’re good at and accomplish new or difficult goals. This can also help them see if the internship and career path is right for their skills set. 
  • Assist in identifying key skills in the industry. Most of the time, students come into an internship blind so it’s helpful if Career Services staff can help identify key skills needed in the industry such as communication, technology, soft and hard skills. This allows the students to draw from what they’ve already learned in class and apply the concepts to their internship. 
  • Teach the value of building relationships. We all know how important networking is! Relationships at work are extremely valuable and Career Services staff should hone in on the value of it during and after the internship. Building advocates could potentially lead to a full time offer afterwards. Encourage the student to have lunches with employees, attend events, and create their own opportunities to engage. 


Imagine the impact we can make in a student’s life where both Career Services staff and Employers support students in the internship process. Educating and assisting helps empower the students to do their best and create future leaders. 


About the Author 


Stella Yuen is an experienced recruiter and career coach for volunteers, interns, and entry level hires. She is currently a Campus Recruiting Program Manager at Armanino LLP and has previous experience as a career counselor. As a member of the MPACE Pac South committee for over 1.5 years, Stella has attended & presented at MPACE conferences, and will be hosting an office visit at Armanino this summer. She was also the 2018 MPACE University Relations Recruiter Member Scholarship recipient for the NACE Recruiter Leadership Institute (RLI). 


On the side, she writes for her blog www.findyourpeanutbutter.com which compare the similarities between finding a soulmate and finding a career.  Stella also published a book walking through the job search process which can be found here: http://amzn.to/2kNmKEY



Want to get involved with MPACE? Write a Trends article for the MPACE blog! 


Please reach out to Heather Starr at hstarr@csusm.edu if you are interested in sharing your knowledge with the MPACE audience through a guest writing opportunity. The Trends Sub-committee has a list of topics that you can write about or consider suggesting one to us.

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