It’s summertime and the living is easy … unless you’re an intern. Acknowledging that the setting, style and even definition of an “internship” vary across the board, these are some of the unspoken thoughts that could apply to some, all or none of the interns charging forth as movers and shakers this summer.
1. I feel like the DJ Khaled of question-asking right now. ANOTHER ONE. Is that annoying?
Although many workplace settings encourage curiosity paired with open-minded question-asking, it can be intimidating to determine which questions are cumbersome to employees’ time and which questions are welcomed. Guidance is appreciated by breaking down some of those unspoken rules in regard to people’s time.
2. How do I take initiative without getting up in people’s business?
Summer interns don’t mean to be overachievers or brown-nosers, but they want work to do. You’re talking about millennials and generation Z here, the champs of multitasking and purpose-driven work. If you see one of us looking bored … we probably are.
3. Don’t sugarcoat this feedback. You can say it like it is.
Flattery is nice, but summer interns are here to learn, grow and improve. Trust us; we know we’re going to make mistakes. If something doesn’t feel authentic, it probably isn’t. Be honest with your summer intern, build that authentic trust through life conversations, and they will most likely be honest with you.
4. Wait, can I bring my dog to work too?
It can be hard to determine which unspoken rules apply to seasoned employees and which guidelines are adaptable for the youths. You can see how it would be intimidating to ask my supervisor if I can bring little Curly to the office. Don’t be surprised if summer interns are wondering about some of those seasoned perks.
5. Do you need a VP of Fun? Pick me!
Have you smiled today? I bet your summer intern wants you and the office to remember how to smile. Work is work. Life can be exceedingly challenging at times. There’s no doubt about that. Let your team pick you up every once in a while, even with the new interns. Maybe it’s 10 spontaneous minutes of fun, maybe it’s a walk outside, both have the power to change the mood of the office.
6. I don’t want to get your coffee for you. I want to get coffee with you.
Many office spaces are getting better and better at giving summer interns meaningful work and hands-on experiences. If you are one of those interns stuck getting coffee, I’m so sorry and may the odds be ever in your favor. Whether or not they express this, odds are that your intern wants to learn from your work experiences and maybe even your life experiences. If you asked your intern to coffee right now, would they be happily surprised? I bet they wouldn’t say no.
7. (*Setting the scene at the water cooler) “Hey … you …” *walks away and thinks, ‘Yeah, we definitely don’t know each other but neither of us did anything to change that.’
Encourage employees who don’t work directly with the summer interns to introduce themselves. Sure, they’re only here for a couple of months, but nonetheless, they’re still a member of the team. Maybe offer to have them shadow what you do or ask you questions about your education/career path. You never know when a real, organic mentorship connection could happen.
8. So, time off. If I take it, will that look bad? Asking for a friend …
Established co-workers know the ropes. Taking time off is a routine component of work. However, for many summer interns who only have two to three months to dive into their opportunity, asking for time off can be intimidating and come across falsely as “not caring.” If you provide interns with time off, know that they are probably grateful and relieved.
9. You don’t have to hold my hand, but you can hold me accountable all day, every day.
You get a mentor, and YOU get a mentor, and YOU GET A MENTOR! Autonomy is a beautiful thing, but too much and interns can feel like lost puppies. Hold us accountable and we’ll do the same for you.
10. This looks different for every intern, especially summer interns. If you see strengths in your intern that they don’t see in themselves, tell them.
If they aren’t meeting your expectations, tell them. If they are trying to do too much, tell them. Open communication will help them help you.
To keep the conversation going, contact us!