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The Aspire Internship Program is designed to help adults with high cognitive autism spectrum disorder or a related profile navigate the various aspects of the work environment while gaining important on-the-job skills.
By Lesley Flaherty, MSW, LCSW, Career Counselor
At the beginning of each internship cycle it is important for companies to think about how to support their intern as they come aboard. Whether you are a new or seasoned partner, it is not uncommon to feel a little nervous prior to working with an intern. The first day can be especially overwhelming to our interns and preparing for it can be a helpful exercise in reducing their anxiety and as well as your own.
Below are five tips to help welcome your intern to your team:
Prior to their start date it is important to identify who the primary supervisor will be for your intern. The supervisor is someone who will be primarily involved in your Intern's training and is the point person in answering all questions. In addition, the supervisor should be the one to provide direct feedback to the intern and participate in weekly communication with the career counselor to discuss progress made and areas of improvement throughout the internship cycle. It is equally important to let the intern know where to check in and to report to the indentified supervisor when they arrive on their first day.
Identifying a workspace an intern can call their own prior to the start of the internship cycle provides routine and structure to an intern’s day. How this space looks may differ depending on where an intern is placed but may look like a desk or cubicle, a communal meeting space, or a break room. Identifying a workspace encourages a sense of autonomy within the intern and a sense of purpose within their role on the team.
Creating a schedule for the intern’s first day is helpful as it prepares the intern around what is expected of them and reduces anxiety. Identifying a schedule for the first week adds an additional level of support that is beneficial to our interns. Similarly, recognizing lunch options such as where to eat, local restaurants, when to take lunch and for how long provides a greater understanding of the office culture and adds to a smooth transition.
Written instructions are always helpful especially if a task has multiple steps. Many of our interns can find it challenging to process large amounts of information at once or may struggle to listen and write notes simultaneously when learning a new task. Written instructions provide a level of support that our many of our interns find beneficial to successfully learn new tasks in a new work environment. This strategy can also be used as a reference for the intern to learn future tasks in a work setting and avoid repetitive questions.
Always reach out to a career counselor if you are ever unsure or need additional support in thinking of ways to welcome your specific intern. Career counselors are here to support you throughout the internship cycle and are available to you when needed.
Welcoming a new member to your team is important in any context. For our interns it is especially helpful as it alleviates any uncertainties and helps to set a positive outlook for the internship. It is our hope that following these steps will help you feel prepared as you enter into a new cycle with Aspire.
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