Internship checklist: How to plan the best intern experience

While interns are meant to be a benefit to your team and provide a helping hand, preparing for an intern can feel like a daunting task. But, with the right preparation, it should be a rewarding experience for both your intern and team. Various situations can call for the need of an internship, but the planning you put in can make or break the experience. Here at HTI, we’ve curated a checklist for managers who don’t know where to start, are worried they’ve missed something, or want to ensure they’re on the right track. Divided into the before, during, and after stages, this list will get you on the right track for intern success. 

Prepping prior to start date

The internship starts long before your new hire arrives. Ensuring the details are wrapped up will lead to a successful start with minimal stress and no loose ends. To set the tone for an effective experience, here is everything you need to complete before your intern steps foot into the door. 

  • Determine your needs 
    • Talk to your team; how can the intern lighten their loads? Outline the additional support your intern can offer for the focused projects that your team doesn’t have time for. 
  • Write job description 
    • Be specific in how you communicate the needs you’ve determined with your team. This will help you attract the right person for your internship. 
    • Remember this is an entry-level position; look for the soft skills and attitudes that translate to a motivated addition to your team.
  • Approve with your HR department 
  • Work with your talent acquisition team to hone in on the personality and skillset your preferred candidate needs
  • Post the job and remember to share it within your network 
  • Review the pre-screened resumes 
  • Select top candidates
  • Have your talent acquisition team facilitate behavioral and cognitive screenings: 
  • Conduct initial interviews 
  • Dive deeper with additional/supplemental interviews for candidate finalists 
  • Extend an offer:  
    • Provide expectations of pay, hours, and job duties. 
  • Welcome your intern by having HR & their direct boss reach out
    • This sets the tone for the next several months with a warm welcome and keeps your intern excited about their upcoming experience.
  • Determine start date 
  • Submit IT request for hardware/software: 
    • What logins and technology will your intern need access to? What equipment needs to be at their desk on day one? 
  • Work with HR to schedule their drug test and finalize paperwork 
  • Prepare new hire package: 
    • Create an information packet with details on parking, badging, navigation and more to set your intern at ease for their first day. 
  • Layout the first week schedule and general internship outline: 
    • Provide directions for getting them ramped up and ready to go. Then design a general overview of the internship’s goals and objectives. 


Delivering the best experience

Your intern has finally arrived! Hit the ground running by making sure they have everything they need for success. These checklist items help your hire get associated with their office space, new coworkers, company culture, and your organizational mission. Don't forget – they are going to be around for at least a couple months, so make them comfortable around their new team!

  • Deliver a strong orientation process
    • Go over company objectives, values, missions, and policies.
    • Their friends and family are going to ask about their internship, so make sure they have the tools to easily explain your organization to others.
  • Tour the office
    • Show them the breakrooms, supply rooms, and team member offices! You want them to feel confident navigating their new office space. 
  • Introduce the team 
    • Introduce them to coworkers, managers, and higher-ups to acclimate your intern and grow their network. 
  • Go out for a team lunch 
    • Help your new intern feel welcome and get to know their teammates. 
  • Schedule one on one check-ins 
    • Maintain open communication and monitor progress with regular check-ins. 
    • This gives both parties the opportunity to provide feedback and explore opportunities for growth.
  • Have the intern keep a task log 
    • Encourage your intern to keep a task log to track their work and measure their accomplishments at the end of the internship. 
  • Provide feedback on projects and assignments
    • Be honest and help them grow. Encouragement also goes a long way! 
  • Include them in meetings and on emails 
    • Involve your intern in communications to give them a broader understanding of your organization and team functions.
    • Remember this is a learning experience for them! So, the more information you can provide and the more projects you include them in, the more they're able to develop in their time with you.


Wrapping up your internship program

The internship may be ending, but the relationship shouldn’t. Stay in contact with your latest investment and keep up with their progress. They could be working with you again in the future or even be a key connection needed down the line. 

  • Stay connected on LinkedIn 
    • Keep in touch with their career development and success. 
  • Conduct a performance review with them 
    • Highlight their achievements and give guidance for future growth. 
  • Share constructive feedback 
    • Give specific feedback on areas of improvement so they can adjust for success in future endeavors. 
  • Provide recommendations 
    • Offer to be a reference for the intern and let them know how to contact you for future employment opportunities. 

Internships are purposed to provide the next generation with hands-on knowledge and skills to join the workforce alongside you. Be intentional with your future intern(s) and prepare them well. This checklist will remind you of the technical to-do’s, but remember – you are both still human and this is an opportunity for connection and growth. Remember that by investing in an internship, your business can build a pipeline of skilled individuals who may eventually become valuable full-time employees or contribute to the growth and success of the company in the long run. 

Want to develop your pipeline for strong entry-level candidates?


Sydney Cansler

Sydney is a Sales Marketing Intern and student at Anderson University. From business development to branding content and everything in between, she provides support to our Marketing department.


Related posts

Search Warning: Talent supply running low? It may be too late
How to stand out at a career fair as an employer Search