Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Interns: Helpful or Not Worth the Trouble?

Confession: I love to eavesdrop and be nosey.  It started when I was a young girl sitting outside of my parent's bedroom listening to my mom talk on the phone with her friends. The neighborhood gossip, while completely over my head, intrigued my young mind.

Lately, I have been intrigued by our interns. I want to know what is going on in their unexperienced heads. I want to know why they aren't thrilled at the opportunity they have. I want to know why they don't follow instructions. Basically, I want to know why they suck. And they do, with the exception of one, suck. 

The interns have generic e-mails and sit at shared computers in closets, I mean workrooms. While looking for something in one of the said workrooms, I looked at the computer screen and noticed several e-mails from Intern 1 to Intern 3. Yes, I read them. They discussed how bored they were, complained that all they did was make copies and just couldn't wait to go home and sleep. Granted, I hadn't given them much to do that day, but they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. As an intern, there will be times you are bored and when this happens you have to be proactive. Ask if there is anything you can help with, do research on the company or industry, sit down with a coworker to find out more about their job. 

I was fairly pissed after reading the e-mails but I held in my anger. I couldn't go to my coworker who I manage the interns with and just tell her I read their e-mails. The next day, my coworker had a confession: She read the e-mails too! 

We immediately decided that some manual labor was in order. Intern 1 and Intern 3 were asked to clean and organize the promotion closet, which was about a clean as New York City subway station. This, like many of their other projects, was done poorly. Intern 2, our all-star intern, had to come in and redo their project. This, unfortunately, is becoming a trend. Our entire department wants to only give projects to Intern 2 and Interns 1 and 3 are left twiddling their thumbs because no one trusts them to do a good job. I've explained to them how to do certain projects as best I can and given them tips from when I was an intern. Nothing seems to stick with them.

And to top it off, Intern 1 was sick one day last week so she did not come into the office. Do you think she called or e-mailed to let anyone know? Nope. She said she didn't have our contact information. First of all, my coworker had given Intern 1 her business card the day before. Second of all, shouldn't she have this information from an e-mail about interviewing or something. And finally, she's been working for 4 weeks, only three days a week I might add, and she's taking a sick day? I've been working for 1 year and 2 months. I've taken ZERO sick days. She was probably hungover. Even I come in when I'm hungover and let's just say I'm known for my bad hangovers. 

I'm trying my hardest to get through to these interns, teach them the ins and outs of the industry, guide them in the direction of good work etiquette, help them be good interns. But they are just not getting it. 

19 comments:

Andrea said...

I say you make them do ridiculous tasks such as going to your apartment to wait for your cable guy...or going to another office to put together a sink...wait...that sounds awfully familiar...coughWG2cough

As a back in the day, 3-day-a-week intern myself, I suggest following in Intern 2's footsteps. Being proactive is key...afterall..that is why the company I interned for asked me to be a full time employee. WG1, I hope you take out Intern 2 for happy hour at a great bar...I heard Rosie O'Grady's is great for said occasion??

Delightfully Sassy said...

Ugh! That is so annoying! I once had a terrible intern but I can't imagine having two of them!!! Good luck. :-)

I love your blog!

Kim said...

Ah yes, the love of the intern/temp lazy ways. Can't you just get rid of them?

-A said...

And recent college grads wonder why it's so difficult to get a job - must weed out the lazy, incompetent, or just plain terrible workers with an internship.

Really enjoying your blog. Cheers!

moArdy said...

I totally feel your pain! We had an intern last Fall Semester that was horrible! He deleted two huge databases and had to be watched and 'spoon fed' all the time. The kicker is when he contacted us a month later and asked for a job. Ugh!

Dana said...

i feel ya!!! They can be annoying!

KBo said...

OMG. I know EXACTLY what you're talking about! First of all, our interns all whine and bitch about how the need to get paid, one even asked for $14 an hour and she didn't even have any experience! When I was an intern, I worked for free to beef up my resume and learn the industry.

Secondly, once they do get here they show up late, leave whenever they want to, and generally act like they could care less.

Why waste our time and theirs by interning with us, if they don't want to make a good impression?

It's so frustrating!

thatShortChick said...

as someone who has interned and is currently trying to get another internship, i find it unfortunate that interns 1&3 behave the way they do and still have their positions because those kinds of interns make it more difficult for the harder working interns. and in turn, the companies that recruit interns tend to re-think their decisions to continue to bring in interns for the future.

Katelin said...

we've had an interesting stint of interns at my job. one talked to her plant and another was just plain weird. hopefully we'll get a normal one in here soon.

Maxie said...

Don't we all have days that we're bored at work? and don't we all have days where we just want to complain about our jobs?

I'm not saying it's right of them to do a shitty job, but I think everyone should be able to have some privacy and vent to their other co-workers.

If you're going to be mad at them, do it because they're doing a shitty job, not because they were complaining.

As far as the not calling in sick thing... that freakin sucks. But it's not fair to assume they were just hung over.

I'm sorry if this comment comes off as bitchy, but a lot of this stuff has happened to me. I'm the youngest person in my office (22) and if I call in sick one day my co-workers always assume it's because I was out too late the night before or I just don't feel like coming in, which is completely false.

I think your interns just need a harsh wakeup call that they need to shape up or they won't be expecting any good reference letters in the future.

Bayjb said...

Oh interns. They are a frustrating group yet somehow can be helpful if you find the right one. We have the "talk" with ours this week about managing up. She feels she only needs to work 8 hours a day and then can leave. Ah no. And does it without telling us, WTF? Is this what you do for a company you hope to be hired at?

christine said...

I have been trying for ages to get an intern position. Its a shame that they are not grateful for what they have.

Redhead said...

I think you need to scare them a bit. Give them a mid-internship review and tell them how much they suck (in a professional way).

Anonymous said...

it's inexperienced, not unexperienced.

poor interns. you sound like a damn whiner

Johnny Red said...

I'm in college right now, and I will be facing internship pretty soon. I do have management experience and I have to say in all fairness that interns are a blessing in disguise. First, the concept of internship is misused by a lot of employers. If you are of the mindset that internship somehow equates to an indentured servitude, then you are sadly mistaken. Second, As a member of the military I am in a leadership position, and honestly the responsibility falls upon you and your colleague to manage the interns. If they are bored and they complain, this is not a chance for you to get upset and punish them. This lackluster attitude is an example you are setting by not being a strong leader. If you lead, they will follow. I assure you of that. If you don't know how to lead, then #1. Don't complain, and #2. Step up to the challenge and get some remedial management training. This will help them by having better leaders and it will help you by generating more productivity from these individuals. The type of behavior your presenting here is unprofessional and it amplifies an already difficult employee/management relationship.
New soldiers are like interns and I love them! There are a few that are not going to satisfy the demands of the job, but that doesn't they are ever useless. The thing you should consider is that you have reached a position of being complacent and stagnant. You want to blame interns for your lack of leadership and management ability. I'm not trying to insult you, I'm just telling you that I feel sorry for my employer when I become an intern, because My sole propose in life will be to take your job from you.
You started out hungry, got lazy, and now I'm going to move in for the kill to send you packing. Also, If you are a professional, the word hung-over, should never be part of a description of your lifestyle. I have a drink on occasion, but beyond that, never enough to hang me over. I commend you on the success you have had and I think you have potential to be a great supervisor. My thoughts here are just a suggestion. If you can not handle criticism, then your in bad shape. There's also a phrase that I want to suggest to you that has been a huge help to me in my management experience. "Be careful of the toes you step on today, for they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow." I hope this helps.

P.S. Intern 1 and 3, good way to fix them is this try giving them a project, and forcing competition between them with a small reward. Also outline the other daily demands, job responsibilities, and projected future projects and deadlines that will need to be met. This should solve a good portion of your issues. - good luck. J.

MyraMyra said...

Thank you so much for writing this, because until now...I thought that my interns were the only kind of "interns" that did the similar things yours did. What is unfortunate that the (God help me for sounding almost like my mother, or worse her mother) "younger generation" cannot seem to grip how lucky getting an internship is. You're there to learn and kiss ass so that hopefully when you graduate you have a fabulous job waiting for you. I just don't know...

Muse Grl said...

I just noticed your blog today (great job!) and have been reading through some old posts. Not ten minutes later, my intern comes in and say, "i'm going to go home now". It's 4:05 and she is supposed to be in until 5!! So I ask if she's going to be here until five tomorrow and she says "probably sometime between 4 and 5". I don't get these kids. But i try not to get too pissed because they are younger and are spending their summer working but still.....pllllleeeeeeease!

soulchild00 said...

I'm about to start my 4th internship, and at every one i enter, i make it my job to be referred to as "super intern" within 6 weeks of starting. I'm always the one who has to redo what the other interns didn't do right the first time. I've found that when my boss rewarded me for doing well (i.e. taking me on a business trip with her and not the lazier interns) it pushed them to do better because they were jealous. I never did the work for the rewards, but the interns that weren't doing the work before did. Don't hate all interns!! :) I love your blog, btw.

dpm said...

you bring up a good point...passing S&^! down the line. you were treated poorly as a student so when youre in a position of power you do the same to students who will in turn do it to other students, etc etc. try to see the best in these losers and when in doubt just remember they'll only be here for a few more weeks.