When developing an internship program at your organization, the focus is often centered around the programmatic aspect: developing content, identifying supervisors, and hiring the interns; however, once all of that is complete, celebrating and recognizing the achievements of your cohort of interns is also an essential part of the program.
Not only does celebrating your interns congratulate them on successful completion of the program and all they’ve contributed, but it also drives inclusion, fosters a sense of belonging, and creates an engaging community.
Here are ten great ways to celebrate your interns this summer, and throughout the year:
1. Kick off your internship program by sharing a “new hire” swag kit with each intern
Welcoming your new class of interns with branded gifts featuring your company logo will instantly make them feel like a part of the team, which in turn, will help to boost morale and productivity. A new hire swag kit is the perfect way to welcome interns (and new hires). With a new hire swag kit, you can customize gifts from t-shirts and sweaters, to earbuds, notebooks, and more! In addition, equipping your interns with useful items (i.e. notebooks, water bottles, and pens) will ensure that they have essentials they need to get started in their new role!
2. Welcome your interns via the internal communication platform(s) that your company regularly uses (e.g. Slack, email, an intranet, etc.)
Shouting out your new internship cohort will primarily help your interns to feel recognized and welcomed, but will also ensure that current employees know who the interns are and what teams they’ll be working with during their program.
Welcoming interns on internal communication platforms also immediately ensures they are set up with access to send and receive messages on these platforms from day one.
3. Provide your interns with lunch on the first day of their internship, and most importantly, have lunch with them!
Providing your intern with lunch (for example: having a catered lunch in a conference room if you’re in person or sending them virtual lunch credit for remote workers) is a relatively inexpensive gesture that will make your intern feel welcome and instantly appreciative of their experience with your company.
Beyond providing lunch for your intern, it’s important for internship supervisors, and teams, to make time for lunch with new interns (either in person or via a video call). This interpersonal time will create a sense of community and a casual atmosphere for you and your interns to chat and learn more about each other, which will ultimately build an important foundation for your intern's professional and personal development.
4. Regularly provide your interns with kudos and recognition when they’re doing a great job!
Giving interns kudos and recognition will encourage great performance and instill a sense of pride in the things that they have accomplished.
Depending on how your intern prefers to receive kudos, you can recognize them in a private one-on-one setting or can celebrate them in a public setting (i.e. the company’s group chat or email), if they’re comfortable.
5. Offer your interns a congratulatory Snappy gift after completing a large project or presentation.
Completion of a large project or presentation can be daunting, especially when your intern has never worked on a major project with business impact before - reward them with a Snappy gift to thank them for their hard work and celebrate them!
Gifting is a great way to recognize, celebrate, and show gratitude for a job well done. In a recent study, Gen Z reported that gifting in the workplace makes a difference in their morale, engagement, and loyalty, with nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (85%) reporting “I feel like my contributions at work are recognized when I receive a gift” and 7 out of 10 respondents (69%) reporting “I feel like my opinion and point of view are valued when I receive a gift”.
6. Care about your interns - personally and professionally
Gen Z values a culture of people-first. Take time to understand what motivates your intern, what their goals are, and how they work best. Simply understanding more about your intern will make them feel seen and valued, and will create opportunities for them to be more engaged in their work.
7. Send your interns a “Thank You” gift after successfully completing their internship program.
When your internship cohort completes their program, don’t miss out on acknowledging this exciting accomplishment! Congratulate them on their successful completion of the program with a gift that showcases your gratitude and leaves them feeling recognized and valued.
8. Host a gathering where everyone can get together and celebrate!
Whether in person or virtual, find time to celebrate the completion of an internship program by coordinating dedicated time for the company to applaud and celebrate your interns in a casual setting. Find an activity for the cohort to participate in to simply have fun as a group. This type of event is beneficial for interns, as well as employees, in boosting morale, engagement, and company culture.
9. Invite your intern to come back for another program term, or hire eligible interns as full-time employees!
Retention of valuable interns helps to minimize your recruiting efforts for subsequent internship cohorts, and reduces the amount of time that you need to spend training new interns. Similarly, hiring past interns as full-time employees is just as beneficial as having current employees with legacy knowledge - they will be well informed about the company and their role.
10. Write glowing recommendation letters for your former interns, as requested!
When you have valued interns, celebrate them and help them advance in their careers by supporting them in their future endeavors. It is likely that interns will ask their supervisors for a reference when they apply for a job, graduate school, or their next internship. If your intern did a great job and successfully completed their program, be prepared to provide a glowing and thoughtful recommendation!
This is not a comprehensive list of all of the ways to celebrate your interns, but if you at least prioritize these ten things, you will definitely cultivate a vibrant culture where your interns feel celebrated, appreciated, and excited to return for future programs and/or employment!