As a host organization and creator of your internship program, you will need to provide your interns with periodic performance evaluations. Since a defining characteristic of internships is a focus on learning and developing experiences in their desired field, providing feedback is even more important for interns than for full-time staff members. It’s crucial to the learning process that interns know in which areas their performance is meeting or exceeding employer standards, and in which areas they need to work harder or make adjustments. And how will your interns grow and flourish after their experience in your program? By your thoughtful, thorough and constructive feedback.
Intern evaluations will, of course, differ by company. In some organizations, an intern evaluation might consist solely of an informal lunch spent discussing strengths and weaknesses with a supervisor. In other organizations, intern evaluations are formal, written, and regularly scheduled. It’s up to you to decide what works for you and the nature of your internship program.
Chegg Internships recommends written intern evaluations be a part of your feedback process. “In the ideal situation, an intern’s supervisor would fill out an evaluation sheet ahead of time and then go over the report with the intern present. This way, the student and supervisor can discuss the assessment: The intern can ask questions, and the supervisor can elaborate on comments and scoring.” They believe that written intern evaluations are beneficial for a number of reasons.
For starters, written evaluations most clearly communicate which areas of intern performance need adjustment. In contrast, with informal, oral evaluations, interns may not remember everything the supervisor says, therefore it’s less likely interns will make the proper improvements if they can’t recall all the issues they are supposed to correct.
Written evaluations can also be kept as a type of progress report that the intern can refer back to periodically to make sure they’re working toward peak performance when they are employed as a full-time staff member.
Written intern evaluations can also provide proof of the supervisors’ performance reviews. There are many laws and regulations surrounding internship so you will want to keep all your documentation throughout the entire program. Especially these reviews. In the case of future disciplinary action—or if an intern is wondering why they were not invited back or offered full-time employment—a written evaluation eliminates the intern’s ability to contend, “I was never told I needed to improve in that area.” As with all areas of business, it’s important to cover all your bases and have the proper documentation to prove it.
Finally, written intern evaluations are beneficial because if the intern is receiving school credit for participation in the internship program, written evaluations are most often mandatory. Getting into the habit of providing written performance evaluations for all interns simply makes your program run smoother and ensures all interns are evaluated equally.
Now you might be thinking, what types of questions should I ask within the evaluation? Here are a few questions to choose from that will allow for self reflection on the intern’s part, along with performance feedback as well as provide you with the information you need to improve your intern program and understand what is working, or what is not.
Questions to Include on your Written Intern Evaluations
Was the internship what you expected? If it wasn’t, why not? — This will give you a chance to really understand what your intern thought of your program and if the expectations you provided within the intern application/job description lined up to the actual experience of the student.
What was the best part of your internship (and why)? — This is the good part. We all like to know what is working and if the tasks we provided for the intern were well received. Encourage them to speak honestly and with detail.
What was the worst part of your internship (and why)? — Just like the intern needs constructive criticism, so do you. While the intern might be uncomfortable answering this question, it’s beneficial for both of you.
Did the internship provide you with any insights that you hadn’t anticipated?
How would you rate your internship on a scale from 1 to 10?
Would you recommend your internship to a friend (why or why not)?.
What knowledge and skills did you gain and how do you plan on applying them in the future? — Ask them to identify the knowledge and skills they now possess that can be applied to future positions. Now that they know what kind of work environment they like best, as well as what kind of boss, it’s easier to access this.
Still don’t know where to start? Below is a sample evaluation form that you can tailor to your individual organization or company, provided by UC Denver. Click here to view.