Charting the Course to Onboarding Your Summer Interns: 3 Ways to Help Them Navigate the Waters

Summer interns are like a fresh breeze. They add a gust of wind to your sails brining new energy and perspective to your team.

And while interns are almost always eager to learn and help, starting a new job can be like jumping into dark waters without a life jacket: exhilarating and intimidating!

They want to impress their bosses and not flop like a fish out of water. It’s our job as veterans, to help them navigate these uncharted waters.

Most organizations are great at teaching interns the basics: articulating instructions, demonstrating processes, and showing them where to find good snacks in the break room.

Emotional and mental support, however, are too often forgotten about, and let’s be real, it takes more than a taco welcome lunch to have your interns truly feeling afloat. 

Want to set your summer interns up for smooth sailing this summer?  Time to integrate a little FUN and PLAY into the workplace!

  • Playfulness at work helps foster friendships, leading to stronger teamwork.  
  • Laughter is a great stress reliever that will help provide a sense of belonging.
  • Team leaders who take their work seriously but not themselves, are far more approachable.   

Enjoy 3 easy ways to playfully improve your intern onboarding experience this summer:

1. First-day FUN. Make your interns’ first day one to remember. At JAM, we welcome new teammates with their walk-up song blaring, a high-five tunnel, and 3 goofy questions. It helps our new teammates feel at ease and connected right away. It brings a smile to everyone’s face! Curious to see it in action? Here’s our summer intern, Natalie on her first day.

2. Provide options for PLAY. Sign up a company sports team this summer (think beach volleyball, kickball, or softball) in an adult rec sports league. Have bi-weekly music rehearsals or a monthly book club, so interns have the option to connect with their work colleagues outside of the office.

3. Shoutouts on MS Teams or Slack. Recognition can have maximum impact without being costly or time-consuming. Make your interns feel seen, heard, and appreciated by celebrating the wins – big and small. Set up a simple “Shoutout channel” on your MS Teams or Slack platform and encourage everyone to regularly shout out their teammates celebrating great work being done.

BONUS – Go PLAY day.  Consider shutting down the office and heading outside for an afternoon Field Day or Office Olympics. Taking a rejuvenating mid-week break to have some laughs and fun with your team will provide a massive energy boost immediately that will benefit your interns and full-time team!

As our interns set sail, we should strive to ensure they have the tools they need to weather any storm.

Playfully bringing out the floaties and pool toys will create a workplace culture that feels like a safe space to make mistakes, learn and grow as confident future leaders.

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