Working With Your Intern


It is essential that new interns receive a thorough orientation to the organization. An orientation should include the following:

  • Tour of the facility including introductions to key staff or administrative personnel
  • Review of security, safety, and evacuation procedures
  • Assignment of name tag and keys if appropriate
  • Completion of emergency contact form
  • Review of personnel and organizational policies: reporting absences, schedule changes, dress code, breaks, policy regarding food in the work area, etc.
  • Review of customer service policies
  • Review of organizational website
  • Explanation and training of phone system.
  • A review of the institutional mission and services
  • Overview of collections
  • Training for online catalog, databases, or other resources
  • A review of the organizational collections management or development policy, if available
  • Review of policies for using and handling sensitive and/or fragile materials.

It is advisable to provide copies of the following to an intern …

  • Institutional mission statement
  • Copy of strategic plan, if available
  • Collection development policy
  • Employee handbook
  • Procedures manual
  • Suggested readings for intern, e.g. SAA handbooks, other professional literature

When possible, host sites may also wish to provide optional experiences:

  • Time spent observing other members of your organization’s staff
  • Attendance at staff meetings
  • Attendance at board meetings
  • Participation in organizational event
  • Participation in professional workshop
  • Opportunities to visit other facilities or departments associated with the organization

Training and Supervision 

Adequate and detailed training is an essential component of hosting an intern. Proper training and supervision will minimize mistakes and problems and serve as a learning opportunity. In addition to hands-on training, detailed written instructions for projects should be made available to the intern. If a processing manual is available, the intern should have access to it. Review their progress on a regular basis to provide feedback and guidance. Remember that your intern will be influenced by what they experience and observe while working at your institution. Take this opportunity to model your professionalism and to share your insights and knowledge.

Working with Academic Advisors

Students and host sites are required by the student’s academic institution to adhere to certain requirements. As host site supervisor, it is essential that you be aware of these requirements. Be sure to complete forms in timely manner, sign contracts, agree on goals and projects, and arrange for site visits, if required. Do not hesitate to contact the intern’s academic advisor if you have any concerns regarding requirements, projects, or performance issues that may arise during the internship.