Supervision & Mentorship
Communication is critical when it comes to supervising. This helps to ensure expectations are clearly defined and both the student and supervisor are on the same page. It is recommended that weekly meetings are established where the intern and supervisor can touch base. While the projects and work provided through an internship experience may inherently be experiential in nature, it is also helpful to check in with your intern and help them draw connections between their work and future career goals. Some sample questions to ask include:
- How is this internship fitting in with your academics?
- What are you learning here that is helping you in school?
- What are you learning in class that you can apply here at work?
- What skills would you like to develop?
In addition, it can be helpful for the intern and supervisor to discuss the intern's learning objectives at the halfway point of the experience to make sure the intern is on track and meeting the supervisor’s expectations. Conducting an evaluation at the conclusion of the experience is a great way to end and it also helps the student identify both their strengths and areas for improvement, which might also be required if the intern is receiving academic credit.
Providing a solid supervisor is important, but providing a mentor can take the internship experience from good to great! A mentoring relationship is similar to that of a supervisor’s relationship, however the mentor helps the student draw the connection between what they are doing in the workplace to what they have learned in the classroom through reflection. Having the intern complete a self evaluation halfway through the internship, and again at the conclusion of the internship is a great way to do this. In addition, a mentor may help the student with additional professional development opportunities, as well as encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone.
Internship Learning Objectives
One of the distinguishing factors of an internship is the connection between academics and hands-on experience. This is often accomplished through learning objectives.
What are they?
Internship learning objectives help the student identify what they are learning throughout the internship by connecting competencies to specific projects or tasks. Learning objectives also provide supervisors concrete examples for evaluation purposes, both midway through the internships as well as at the conclusion of the experience. Please note that many internships completed for academic credit require the student to identify key skills they will gain throughout the internship.
How do you write them?
Learning objectives should be written by the intern in conjunction with their supervisor. The student should identify three to five key elements they hope to learn while completing their internships. These skills can be specific to the student’s field, or more general skill-sets they want to enhance. It’s important to make sure the learning objectives are measurable and achievable.
Sample Learning Objectives
Learning Objective #1: Gain an understanding of how to implement new technology within a department
Task/Work Assignment #1: I will be working with my supervisor on a communication tool that helps recruit potential students to GVSU. This new tool will need to be monitored and assessed throughout implementation.
Learning Objective #2: Enhance my written communication- specifically in regards to effective social media posts, public service announcements, and website content
Task/Work Assignment #2: One of my main tasks will be customizing the communication that comes out of the new tool and department. I will need to ensure similar messages are coming through all platforms of communication
Handling Difficult Situations and Students
While most internship experiences go very well for the intern and organization, it is possible that challenges may arise. Like any other employee within the organization, an intern should not be given special treatment when it comes to disciplinary action. It is important to discuss and document the issue(s) with the intern as soon as they arise. It is recommended to address the student directly and clearly define the concerns In addition, be sure to develop a clear recovery plan with required actions along with a detailed timeline for review. In the event that the situation cannot be rectified, please contact the student's faculty advisor (if the student is doing the internship for academic credit) or the Career Center for additional assistance.