The interns are coming, the interns are coming!

Summer Interns Main

Summer Interns

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Lock up your office doors and prepare your LinkedIn profile views to spike. It’s summer internship season and that can only mean one thing: Groups of highly caffeinated, Tory Burch flat wearing, eager young minds flooding corporate America for six to ten weeks of life changing “real world” work experience.

Let me paint the picture for you: During the day, they’ll show up to the office 15 minutes before the rest of their department with Starbucks in hand. They’ll bring a shiny new Target notebook to every meeting, ask a lot of questions, and try really hard to not talk about their college parties when everyone else is sharing weekend plans.  After work they’ll get drunk on happy hour martinis  with all their friends who also nailed a coveted summer internship and talk about how lucky they are. They’ll compare name badge pictures, debate over who has the chicest boss, and then go home an hour earlier than normal because they’re “being pulled into a big project tomorrow and can’t be hungover.”

Ah, those were the days weren’t they?  I make fun now, but that’s only because I spent years being a summer intern and I can only imagine how cliche and eager I appeared to my supervisors. But that’s how interns are supposed to be. They provide a fresh nervous energy to offices now vacated by the C-suite executives spending long weekends at their million dollar lake houses.

I was reminded of all this while visiting my consulting gig’s office this week. I only go into the office a few times a month, so I was surprised, and frankly unprepared, to find myself suddenly surrounded by LOFT models in a painfully long line at Protein Bar. Which – side note – what companies are paying their interns enough for $11 salads? And can someone hook a girl up?

Anyway, the point is, I was overcome with a burst of nostalgia and felt compelled to write to my fellow YoPo’s and warn you…your mini-me’s are coming. They’re invading your offices with unstoppable force. The good news is they will probably worship you and hang on to your every word, unless you get the intern who’s already cast herself as Emily Blunt’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, in which case I’ll say a prayer for you now.

So for those of you with summer interns on your team this year, I thought I’d share a few pointers. Here’s how to survive intern season, and perhaps (gasp!) even benefit from it:

1. Don’t constantly refer to them as “the intern”. They get it, they’re at the bottom of the food chain. They don’t need the reminder. First names will do just fine.

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2. Use this opportunity to work those rusty mentoring skills. Take an intern under your wing and offer to talk about their career path one-on-one.  You were in their shoes not too long ago and think about how much you would have appreciated someone to talk to.  Just remember…

3. Don’t be their friend. You may be close in age, but unlike them, you’re not returning to school when summer is over. Don’t give upper-management any reason to lump you and your intern in the same category. 

4. Be wary of the over-eager interns. You know, the ones who will volunteer for everything?

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and you’re all like…

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Don’t fall for their tricks just because you’re looking to take work off your plate. If you have a great work assignment and multiple interns to choose from, don’t settle for the loudest because it’s easy. Consider who will actually benefit from the assignment the most.

5. Check in. To most interns, their first days at a company can feel like stepping into foreign country. Despite what I tell them to do, they may not take initiative and approach you or your manager right away. Understand that this environment is new for them, and check-in with them every once and a while. Remember, this is a learning experience. 

6. Challenge them. Typical intern tasks can sometimes get repetitive and mundane. If your intern clearly has their workload under control, don’t be afraid to push the envelope and include them on something a little more interesting. Don’t worry, the copy machine will still be there when they’re done.

7. Don’t be a bitch. Just don’t. I get it,  you have a great job at a cool company. You’re hot shit. And while there may be moments it would be easier to just do the work yourself, resist the urge to be a diva. Be patient with those learning under you and opt for sharing your expertise rather than showing it off. Unless of course your intern’s a little bitch herself, then by all means…

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8. Write a LinkedIn recommendation for them at the end of the summer (of course, under the stipulation that they did a good job). It will mean so much to them, and will give you all the warm and fuzzies of a budding young manager.


So, the interns are coming…are you ready?