How to Train the Next Intern

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We all remember what it was like on our first day of a new internship. You were filled with excitement and nerves as you wanted to learn everything that you could and as quickly as possible to impress your new supervisors.

In the New Year, many companies will be getting ready to welcome their next batch of seasonal interns for the spring semester, and occasionally, supervisors will ask current interns to train the newbies. If you find yourself in this position, here are my personal tips from my own training experiences on the most effective ways to prepare the next intern who will be taking over your position.

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Photo courtesy of Stephanie Banares

Create an Intern Manual

If your company has not already created an intern manual, take the initiative to start a Word document with an outline of common intern procedures, important passwords and log-in information, and general notes which can be added to and updated through out each intern’s experience with the company.

This intern manual will get you thinking about what you typically do in a day at your internship to prepare you for training the next intern. It will be a great resource for your trainee to use after they have started working at the company.

Make a Check-List of Your Daily Procedures

Often when we are going through the motion of our day-to-day tasks at a job, we are not conscious of the many steps that go into our daily procedures. These details become second nature to us, but for the new intern who will be taking your role, these steps will be foreign.

In order to make sure that you cover all of these steps, make a check list through out one of your days at work of all the tasks and processes you cover, whether they be something as a small as remembering to always put that one form in the green folder, to larger tasks such as filling out your time sheet every Friday. Make this list before meeting with your trainee so that you can reference it as you walk them through the procedures they will be taking over.

Ask Yourself What You Would Have Wanted to Know

One of the best ways to determine what to go over with your trainee is to remember how you were feeling during your first week at work with the company.

What tasks did you find the most confusing and difficult to adjust to at first? What were the mistakes that you initially made? What questions do you wish you would have asked earlier?

While each intern will have their own unique perspective and learning style, try to imagine that you are training your former self when you were starting. This approach will give you a good beginning point of areas to cover with your trainee that will probably be most helpful to them.

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Teach for Different Types of Learners

People usually fall within a few types of learning categories: visual, auditory, kinetic, or a combination of these styles. It may not be apparent to you what learning style your trainee possesses, so catering to all of these learning styles in training may be a good place to start when giving instructions.

Visual learners respond well to seeing a task laid out in front of them, whether this is by watching you perform the task or having some sort of visual aid like a diagram or computer snapshots to follow.

Auditory learners need to hear the instructions of the assignment to process each step, so as you are showing your trainee each step in a process make sure you say out loud what you are doing and why. Explaining to your trainee why you perform a certain function will also help them remember it for the future.

Let the Trainee Take Over

There is only so much that you can show and tell a trainee to teach them a task or procedure. Eventually, they will need to try taking on assignments on their own in order to solidify what they have learned and be able to complete these tasks without you.

Make sure that you allot time in your training session for you and the trainee to switch roles. Intervene only if they have a question or if they make an error. While some people learn best from listening or seeing instructions, others need to physically try new things for themselves to complete the learning process.

Giving your trainee this time with you will help make them feel more confident about doing tasks on their own when you are no longer there to help them.

Leave a Good Amount of Time for Questions

Often intern trainee’s are bombarded with lots of information in the first couples days of their new position. While they of course will not be expected to perfect all of these responsibilities right away, it can surely feel overwhelming at times to digest everything.

If possible, in your training session, make sure to leave a good thirty minutes to check in with the trainee about how they are understanding everything that you have covered together. Ask them what areas are still confusing for them or if they would like to revisit anything that you have covered and take the extra time to go over specific tasks and procedures that are of unique interest to them.

What do you wish someone would have taught you on your first day at your internship? Share with us in the comments!

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