Posted on | July 7, 2011 | Comments Off on Interns

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It is  no secret that I’m not a fan of interns on the Death Star. By no means is it the concept of an internship, at all.  An intern is brought into a company to learn about the business, gain hands-on experience and observe the inner-workings of a company in the industry they aspire to enter upon graduation. If effective in their role, interns can be invaluable to an organization and the staff which they support. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Even worse, my recent experiences lead me to believe they are the exception. . .NOT the rule.

Was I hallucinating, or did you really say that?

If nothing else, I can say I have heard some great statements while observing and working with interns. Here are a few of my faves:

“I’ll pass” : I’m fairly certain I said, “Please do this.” The response of, “I’ll pass,” indicates not only a lack of understanding for what was asked of you but also a lack of respect for the company’s employees and a blatant disregard for the intent of your internship. I’ll pass on having you come back.

“I’m done” :This may be my favorite, if for no reason other than the context in which it fell. I asked an intern how they were coming with a list of seven tasks given to them the day prior. The response I received was, “I’m done.” While pleased with the answer, I was dumb enough to ask for the end product of tasks five through seven. Much to my chagrin, I was told they had yet to be completed. Guess what? you aren’t done, but I’m done with your lies.

“Where is this?” : While I encourage interns to ask questions, as it is the best way to learn, asking me where something is located when you were given the information in both an email and Word doc from which it can be cut and pasted, and you are on your third iteration of the task, I would suggest keeping this question to your self. You want to know where it is? Read. What. I. Sent. You.

“I couldn’t find anything” : The internet is a vast resource. When asked to research something, do not even think of uttering, “I couldn’t find anything.” Particularly if you completed the task in under an hour. Last I checked research wasn’t a quick task. Research is an opportunity to display initiative. Look for what was asked of you and by all means look-up some related information and show some initiative. As for what I couldn’t find? Nice things to say about you or your work ethic

Internships are what you make of them. . .don’t make them my worst nightmare

I am by no means trying to discourage students from interning. I am simply trying to manage their expectations for what lies ahead, and more importantly, make clear what they should not attempt to get away with. Perhaps these tips say it best:

  1. View your internship as an opportunity, not an obligation.
  2. Take initiative, not a mini-vacation.
  3. Build your portfolio (with permission), not a band of haters.
  4. Do what is asked of you, not your schoolwork on company on time.
  5. Set the bar high, don’t sit at it during work.


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