For college students on the job search in a tough economy, internships are often the best way to work toward landing a full-time position. According to Forbes, 69 percent of companies that have more than 100 employees offered full-time positions to their interns during the 2011-2012 school year. Nearly every college student understands that internships are essentially just a long interview, after which they hope to receive a job offer.
For international students studying in the U.S. under an F1 visa, landing a full-time position is crucial, as the visa only allows unemployed graduates to stay in the country for 12 months post-graduation. Here are five ways to make your international student interns feel welcome, at home and comfortable in your office.
1. Offer a warm welcome. Extend a warm greeting to all of your interns on the first day of their internship. While you don’t need to do anything too elaborate or large-scale, offering a healthy breakfast with coffee and a variety of foods to suit any dietary restriction is a nice gesture. Try to set aside the first morning as a time for interns to enjoy breakfast together, chat and get to know each other. Show your interns around the office, give them time to settle into their space and encourage them to make their space their own. It also doesn’t hurt to put together a small care package that includes suggestions of things to do around the city, snacks and a card signed by everyone in the office. Also include practical information for where they can find necessities like a grocery store, dry cleaner, pharmacy as well as access to a doctor, dentist, travel insurance coverage or other necessary insurance.
2. Set up a get-to-know-the-interns party. At some point during the first week your new interns are in the office, have everyone in the department get together to meet and greet the interns. The interns should prepare a 1-2 minute introduction to talk about where they’re from, what university they attend, what they study and personal information like their hobbies and interests.
3. Talk about your office culture. Every office has its own culture. Learning office culture is an important part of every internship. Talk to your interns about what your office culture is like and what they can expect. Is it laid-back and fun-loving? Is it more professional and formal? A mixture of both? Explain what the average day is like, how employees typically dress, preferred means of inter-office communication and any other quirks that are specific to your office.
4. Invite interns to join office teams or committees. One of the best ways to make interns feel welcome is to include them in the clubs, committees and teams that keep your office functioning. Invite interns to join committees and be involved during their time with your company.
5. Invite interns to sit in on meetings, lunches and client visits. One of the biggest parts of an internship is absorbing as much information as possible. Even though interns may not be immediately qualified to speak up during meetings and client visits, they can learn a lot just by watching. Make your interns feel included by inviting them to join important meetings and client visits. Carve out time to take interns to lunch once or twice a month so you can talk to them one-on-one about their experience in the office.
Making your interns feel welcome in the office will help them feel more comfortable, so they can focus on settling in, working hard and adding value to the company. Interns, both domestic and international, bring young talent, fresh perspectives and new life to your company. Making them feel welcome will help both you and the interns get the best possible result from their time spent with your company.
Felicia Baratz is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media addict living in Indianapolis, IN. As a contributor to ProfessionalIntern.com, Felicia discusses new, innovative technology and it’s relation to the business world and social media marketing.