Career Planning

Preparing Your Student for an Internship

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By: Madison White, Uloop

A new internship can come with a whole host of emotions: excitement, anxiety, and even fear. You know that, as a parent, you can’t erase any of these emotions, but how can you help your student prepare for their upcoming internship?

Navigating the line between helping your student and annoying them can be a tricky one, especially if they’re already in college, but there are a few things that might be worth mentioning. In the beginning, your student may try and resist your help, insisting that they’re totally capable of doing this on their own. While this may be true, there are a few things that you already know about that are going to be invaluable in the end.

1. Help with their wardrobe

Your student may not like you trying to give them fashion advice at first, but once they realize you have years of experience in the workforce, they may find you a valuable source. Young adults usually have a great and keen sense of style when it comes to day-to-day wear, and while their wardrobe may be great for going to class and being with friends, it may not be completely appropriate for the workforce.

Of course, every workplace is different, but it is a good idea to talk about what is going to be required at the workplace, what they already own, and what they will need for the future. Firstly, get creative! Many of their favorite items can already be dressed in a certain professional way. If it looks like you’ll need to go shopping for some new clothes, encourage them to choose classic styles over things that are trendier. A simple white button-down shirt might go a lot further than they think.

2. Prepare (for everything)

Preparation is key when it comes to making a good first impression, especially at new internships! Your student may already feel prepared, and they might be, but it’s a good idea to check in with them on some key details. Firstly, find out the commute time. They might have an idea of how long it will be to drive there every morning, but remind them that they could be driving in rush hour traffic which can take significantly longer.

Prepare for delays ahead of time so they aren’t arriving late. It is to be assumed that the workplace will have the items they’ll need to do their job, but it might be advisable that they bring a few of their own, essential items. Some of these may include pens, pencils, notebooks, paper clips, a stapler, and more. Also, they might want to prepare with some other non-essential items like band-aids, tissues, and chargers.

3. Talk about current events

Social currency may be different when it comes to different environments. It may be assumed that your student will be working with people outside of their age range for the first time. This isn’t to say that your student is sheltered from the world, or ignorant at all, but it is to be noted that people of different generations will be interested in different things.

It may be worth discussing some recent national events with them or suggesting they subscribe to a news website to try and keep up with what their coworkers may be talking about. This makes it much easier for them to connect.

4. Get ready for the paperwork

The start of a new job or internship also usually comes with a lot of paperwork. They will have to fill out forms, sign them, and then fill out even more. They will likely be asked lots of personal information when it comes to these forms, so make sure they have with them information about their social security number, banking accounts and statements, addresses, phone numbers, previous jobs, and even tax information. They should probably take along some form of identification like a driver’s license if applicable.

5. Be supportive

The last, but arguably most important thing to do for your student when preparing for an internship is to be supportive. It’s likely that they’re already nervous about the demands of an internship and their future coworkers and bosses. They may be stepping into an area they haven’t really explored yet which can be even more frightening.

Be prepared to deal with tiredness, complaints, and frustrations when they arise (which could be often). Remind them that everybody makes mistakes and goes through growing periods when starting something new. They will probably look to you for advice and encouragement, so be ready to be there for them throughout the whole thing!

Of course, in the end, this is their internship and not yours. Whatever you do, try your best to keep a positive attitude at whatever stage of the process your student is going through. Your attitude may just rub off on them.

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