Onboarding is a crucial step in integrating a student within the organization structure and culture. A strong onboarding process can relieve a lot of the stress and waiting around that a student might experience in their first couple of weeks on the job. Through effective onboarding, students will be able to meet their new team, understand the structure of the organization, and become productive quicker as they gain confidence and understanding of the team’s internal processes. 

Depending on the size of your organization, different people might be in charge of the onboarding process for a new student. An HR personnel may help with the logistics of setting up the students’ email, IT equipment, welcome package and so on. In smaller organizations, this may be done by a committee or by the supervisor themselves. In either case, the supervisor is a strong point of contact to welcome the student to their job and introduce them to the rest of the team. 

It’s important to spend some time thinking about how you can prepare for your student’s arrival into your workplace and figuring out what they will need to know to be successful. Below are some key points during the onboarding process. 

  • Before the first day
    • Set up a designated work space, email and organization accounts
    • Develop a training plan for their first few weeks
  • During the first day
    • Tour the office
    • Provide general organization/industry orientation materials to be reviewed
    • Have a team member take them to lunch; ensure student is now included (as appropriate) in team activities 
  • During the first two weeks
    • Schedule meeting between students and their supervisor
    • Provide a training plan and schedule 
    • Introduce to entirety of team or as necessary.

Here are three processes you can incorporate into onboarding. 

  • Assign a buddy or mentor who is not the student’s direct supervisor. This sets them up with a go-to person for questions beyond their usual job duties 
  • Arrange a ‘welcome orientation’. This can include:
    • 1-on-1 meetings between the student and their co-workers 
    • Overview of your organizational chart 
    • Staff wide introductory email 
  • Include students in extracurricular and social activities. This will help increase co-op students’ familiarity, comfort and sense of commitment to coworkers and to your organization.