Spending the time to develop a thorough onboarding process can help alleviate some of the stress and questions a student may have as they begin a work-term or placement. When done correctly it can also help to quickly integrate the student into your workplace culture, even while working remotely. Essentially, good onboarding can make students productive sooner rather than later.

While the size of the organization will impact the responsibilities of onboarding a student, the manager always has an important role. It is generally their responsibility to provide a series of positive onboarding experiences that welcome the student to their job, and to the people they will be working alongside. In addition to the manager, HR (or whomever is in charge of standard HR responsibilities) will have an important role in onboarding students in terms of setting them up as an employee and any accounts/emails the student will need. 

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.