It’s May. May means college students are returning home at the end of the school year. High school students are growing antsy with the warmer weather approaching. And many companies are planning informal and formal programs for their summer hires. As someone who ran summer programs across firms on Wall Street, this is an extremely busy time for companies with formal summer programs. They are planning orientation and training programs, finalizing placements, training managers, assigning and training mentors and planning a whole host of events throughout the summer for their summer hires.
Whether your company plans a formal or informal program, you should be preparing for your summer help. Defining projects, identifying tasks for them, designing a training or onboarding program and speaking to your team about their arrival. People have different names for their summer help: interns, summer analysts, summer help, summer hires, graduate inductees, fellows, college interns. Call them what you like. . . just don’t call them kids.
During my time preparing for a summer program, nothing made my skin crawl more than when someone called their intern a “kid”.
“When the kids arrive, we’ll make sure they all meet at. . . “
“Where should I meet my kid on his first day?”
“How should we manage these kids when they start to. . .”
“Can I give the kid a project on. . . “
That’s just a few of the phrases and questions I used to hear.
Yes, they look young. Most high school or college students do. Yes, they were born after you graduated from college or after Growing Pains stopped airing on ABC. But they are hungry to impress you, excited to absorb all they can about what “real life” is like as a working professional and eager to know if you anticipated their arrival as much as they anticipated starting.
Can you imagine the disappointment if they found out you referred to them as kids? How will your team members view them if they are referred to as “kids” before they even walk in the door? Treat them as if you would treat a new hire on your team. They may have a steeper learning curve to overcome as far as how to navigate working in the real world, but that’s the whole point of their summer experience. They are working for you to gain as much knowledge and information about what life would be like working as a full-time employee at your company.
So if you have summer help joining you in the next few weeks, here is my advice to you. Anticipate their arrival. Design an onboarding plan or training program for them. Prepare projects and assignments for them to work independently as well as contribute to the team’s responsibilities. Speak about their arrival to your team with information about your intern and their expected projects or deliverables. Introduce them around the first week and take them to lunch or coffee. Lastly, call them whatever you like: summer help, intern, summer analyst. Just remember, don’t call them a kid.