Tips for Intern Hosts

“Internships are as rewarding for the host company as they are essential for the students. Offering meaningful internships gives you the opportunity to guide and shape the next generation and build your future workforce.”

Tracy O'Shaughnessy

Program Manager, Master of Writing and Publishing Publisher, Bowen Street Press

Hosting an Intern

What does the supervisor’s role include?

  • Orientation session, advising the student of your organisation’s OH&S requirements and discussing your workplace policies;
  • Informing other employees about the student, and the reason and purpose of the activity;
  • Providing constructive, ongoing performance feedback to the student throughout the activity;
  • Contacting the student’s course co-ordinator if any issues involving the student arise;
  • Participating in ad-hoc student evaluations and feedback, as deemed appropriate by you or as requested by the student. There is typically no formal evaluation required from RMIT.

These sample checklists may provide helpful tips for preparing for a placement and inducting your intern:

Supervisor as ‘Coach’

This online module for WIL supervisors looks at: examples of coaching, and what makes it different to supervising and mentoring; preparing for coaching conversations; and using coaching in WIL. Visit the website here.

Communication Tips

  • Discuss how and when you prefer the student to communicate with you;
  • Talk to the student about their comfort level with different methods of communication;
  • Challenge the student to stretch their capabilities by providing a variety of communication opportunities;
  • Lead by example by communicating with the student in the manner that you would expect them to communicate;
  • Explain the culture in your workplace, e.g. typically contact is via email, telephone or in person;
  • Help the student understand the tone of communication required by different stakeholders;
  • Highlight to the student which styles of communication are effective in different situations;
  • Review important documents so that the student knows where improvement is required;
  • Demand high standards from the student, particularly around external communication to customers;
  • Provide feedback to the student on their development of communication skills.

Having a Good Experience

The placement could be your student’s first experience of the professional workplace, so there may be a brief period of adjustment while they become accustomed to your expectations. While your student will make every effort to behave as an employee, it is important to remember that they are still a student, and may need a little more supervision than a new staff member. ​


  • Be a role model by presenting yourself as you would expect the student to;
  • Ensure goals and expectations are understood correctly from the start;
  • Empower the student to add value by assigning them a worthwhile project;
  • Try to set tasks that are both challenging and achievable within the given timeframe;
  • Explain how the student’s project or task fits into your organisation’s goals or strategy so they understand the ‘bigger picture’;
  • Help the student think through the smaller components of big tasks;
  • Build small milestones into the student’s plan which will help you both monitor progress;
  • Ask the student to demonstrate a task to ensure it has been adequately explained and that they fully understand what is required;
  • Brief your team to encourage the student to share thoughts and ideas at every opportunity;
  • Encourage the student to ask questions and approach you with any problems they are experiencing within the workplace. Challenge the student to think about how they could go one step further;
  • Expose the student to decision making processes and formal and informal meetings and conversations in your organisation;
  • Clarify when you want the student to review things with you and when to seek your approval;
  • Encourage the student to look for answers before relying on you;
  • Allow the student, where appropriate, to have some leeway to learn from their mistakes;
  • Set up a regular time to provide feedback to the student and discuss the progress of the project. The student will appreciate having a designated time in which they can ask questions and review their work;
  • Be generous with your praise. Like all of us, students will appreciate being told when they are doing a job well.

Ready to Host?

Our Work Integrated Learning team are here to assist.

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