30 National Intern Day Ideas & Gifts for 2023

30 National Intern Day Ideas & Gifts for 2023

Looking for ways to reward your interns for their hard work? Show your gratitude and boost company morale with 30+ creative ideas for National Intern Day.

30 National Intern Day Ideas & Gifts for 2023

National Intern Day is a great way to celebrate your interns and bring your team together. While a simple thank-you is always appreciated, putting in a little extra effort can go a long way towards improving your company culture and making employees feel valued.

So how can your company recognize its interns in a fun and creative way? We’ve got a few ideas to celebrate this year!

When is National Intern Day?

National Intern Day was first established by WayUp in 2017 as a way to celebrate interns and entry-level employees and honor their hard work. National Intern Day takes place on the last Thursday in July. This year, it falls on July 27, 2023.

Why is it important to celebrate interns?

There are many benefits of implementing an internship program, including bringing in new perspectives and giving current employees opportunities for leadership experience. It can also help generate a strong recruitment pipeline, since interns who transition into full-time employees are far more likely to stick with a company than those hired traditionally.

But there‘s a big difference between having an effective internship program and simply having interns.

After the pandemic the number of internships decreased as many companies canceled their internship programs or shifted them to online-only programs. As a result, many interns missed out on key work experiences and networking opportunities.

Now, with remote and hybrid work environments well-established and some companies fully reintegrating back into the office, it’s important to establish a positive internship program.

If you want your interns to feel connected to your company culture, it’s critical to develop a strategy to engage and recognize them for the hard work they do. Even a small amount of recognition can make a huge impact on employee engagement and motivation – and that applies to interns as well as full-time employees.

See how Cooleaf can help you show appreciation for your incredible team members

See Cooleaf in action

10 Ideas to Celebrate National Intern Day

If you’re looking for ideas to celebrate National Intern Day, you’ve come to the right place! These ideas are easy to plan and execute, but they make a big difference in helping your interns feel valued, appreciated, and included in your company culture.

1. Create a personalized thank-you video

Gather your team to create a special personalized video for your interns thanking them for everything they do. If your team is remote, you can use a tool like Memento or VidDay to collect the videos and combine them into a meaningful video montage. Try to get as many full-time employees and organizational leaders as possible to record a video message.

2. Get lunch delivered

Who doesn‘t like free food? To express your thanks to your interns, give them a stipend to get their favorite lunch food delivered, or give them a gift card for UberEats or DoorDash. To make the experience even more exciting, pair the lunch with a fun virtual team-building experience, like a virtual escape room or even a cooking class.

Thank your interns with free lunch delivery

3. Spotlight your interns on your social media channels

Collect favorite internship experiences, quotes, or even hobbies from your interns and share them on your blog or social media channels. Not only is this a fun way to honor your team, but featuring your interns on LinkedIn can also help boost social media engagement by making your brand feel more human. You can even create a special social media hashtag and encourage employees to use it to spotlight interns, too!

4. Create a thank-you wall for your interns

Seeing positive comments, thank-you notes, and shoutouts all in one place can be a powerful way to inspire your interns. Create a virtual or in-person thank-you wall of peer recognition to show your interns how much you value their hard work.

With Cooleaf, you can create a Recognition Challenge to empower your team to celebrate your interns’ achievements in a fun and memorable way, with GIFs, images, and comments. Team members can also give “reward points” to interns that they can spend on gift cards, company swag, and more.

Recognize interns for living core values

5. Play "Guess the Intern"

Break down barriers with this fun game to help your team get to know your interns. First, collect three random facts from each intern on your team. Then, send the list out and ask everyone to match the fact with the intern. Whoever guesses the most correct answers wins!

6. Future Leader Superlatives

Collect nominations from current employees to honor your interns’ abilities, like ”Most Organized Trello Board” or ”Best Canva Skills.” You can even include a few silly nominations, like “Best Zoom Background,” or even “GIF Master,” for the person who posts the funniest GIFs. Present them to your interns in the form of an award certificate or even a T-shirt or mug they can keep.

7. Talent Showcase

Invite your interns to share something they’re passionate about outside of work, whether that be breakdancing or baking cupcakes. While you could host a talent show live, less extraverted interns might prefer a more asynchronous way of sharing their skills. Collect photos or videos from all of your interns, then post them on your intranet, Slack group, or Cooleaf channel, and vote on the “most talented” intern.

8. Host a lunch and learn

The best internships offer opportunities for learning and professional development as well as daily work experience. A lunch and learn can be a great way to provide additional training and mentorship opportunities to your interns. Poll your interns to see what topics they would be interested in learning, such as career development skills or more specific industry knowledge. Then, invite a company expert or guest lecturer to host a one-hour workshop on National Intern Day.

9. Create a slide presentation

Collect your best photos, along with warm wishes and kind words from coworkers, and create a powerpoint presentation honoring each of your interns. Show your presentation live on Zoom or in-person, then share the slides with the interns afterward so they can look back on them in the future.

10. Plan a virtual office party

For a simple yet impactful way to say thanks to your interns, host a virtual office party. Invite everyone to join you for an hour or two to congratulate your interns, play games, and celebrate their accomplishments. Add an additional layer of thanks by sending them Cooleaf reward points they can redeem for a gift of their choice.

Managing a team of interns this summer? Get best practices from our free guide!

New call-to-action

Gift Ideas for National Intern Day

Employees should feel appreciated every day, but sometimes, you want to truly make an impact with a special gift. Employee rewards should be specific, memorable, and high-quality, so former interns will look back on their internship experience fondly.

Here are 10 ideas for meaningful gifts for National Intern Day:

  • Gift cards to a spa day or wellness experience
  • Personalized drinkware, such as a ceramic mug or portable coffee cup
  • Cozy T-shirts or hoodies with your company logo
  • Hats (like a beanie or baseball hats)
  • Desk plants to brighten their office spaces
  • Gift cards to local restaurants or coffee shops
  • Gift cards for a live concert or sports events
  • Branded pet gear, for their furry co-workers
  • A custom puzzle with a photo of your team
  • A branded company backpack or tote bag

If you'd like to build a pack of memorable gifts to send to your interns, SwagUp can help you build and distribute a swag pick specially designed for your interns. From water bottles to bucket hats, you'll find unique items your interns will love.

Cooleaf Partners with SwagUp for Meaningful Employee Gifts
Cooleaf partners with SwagUp to provide unique swag box bundles that reinforce your company culture.

Ideas for a Strong Internship Program Year-Round

Even when it’s not National Intern Day, your interns deserve to feel valued and appreciated all the time – whether they‘re summer interns or year-round employees. Here are 10 tips to help you establish an incredible internship program that your interns will remember:

  • Create mentorship programs, pairing interns with full-time employees who can mentor them and support their ongoing development.
  • Organize regular lunch and learns with subject matter experts and industry leaders that your interns can learn from.
  • Send engagement surveys to your interns, ideally at the beginning, end, and middle of your internship program, to collect employee feedback on the program and take action to improve.
  • Create intern meet-up groups to help your interns network and learn from past, current, and future interns at your company.
  • Establish an intern resource group, where interns can share links to guides, podcasts, webinars, or other resources that helped them throughout their internship.
  • Offer career development opportunities in the form of networking events and mixers.
  • Offer an internship welcome kit with company swag to get your new interns join your company.
  • Give your interns the opportunity to present their work in a showcase presentation to all employees.
  • Conduct exit interviews at the end of the internship to get more insights into the internship experience and how it can be improved.
  • Host ongoing virtual challenges like learning & development challenges, core values challenges, and scavenger hunts to build intern engagement and help them feel connected to your company culture.

The Take Away

In today’s competitive market, attracting and retaining great talent is more important than ever. Creating a positive employee experience for your interns and entry-level employees will create a ripple effect across your company culture and brand experience, impacting your team, prospects, and the entire community. If you want to increase employee retention, engagement, and productivity, expressing gratitude towards employees is truly the best way to benefit your business.

How Cooleaf can help you honor your interns on National Intern Day

With Cooleaf’s platform, you can celebrate your interns’ achievements with a public thank-you message from leadership, team recognition, and fun team-building challenges. Whether you’re in person or virtual, we can help you create a memorable experience for your team. Learn how.

Try Cooleaf's engagement platform


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee experiences with our industry newsletter. You'll receive our weekly newsletter, along with occasional event invites for upcoming webinars.

We will never share your email address with third parties.