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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is: Writer's choice - I choose interns

Interns can be both a blessing and a hassle. A good intern will bring fresh ideas and work independently, a bad intern will just sit around and look for excuses to leave early.

I've been working with interns for 10 years and they all come from the school I graduated from so I can quickly spot their strengths and weaknesses. Students must take an internship as a class, it's a requirement for graduation. I fill out paperwork every week on their performance and they are graded based on my comments.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing a GREAT intern and I can't wait for this person to come on board in January. Here are the qualities that make this person GREAT:
  • Persistence in calling - she left two messages before I managed to get back to her. I will return an email faster than a phone call but the latter is more warm and friendly.
  • Genuine excitement for the toy industry and not just babbling about how much fun it is to work with toys, serious focused excitement. She talked about her upcoming trip to New York and her intention to go trend shopping so we gave her several toy locations to scout out and asked her to take photos of any cool toys she might find. I'll be really impressed if she comes back with lots of photos.
  • She talked highly about her teachers which is a sign of respect.
  • A well crafted follow up email thanking me for the interview, conveying her excitement and even saying she had looked forward to our interview for some time. Very serious girl.
My worst intern was apparently bored out of her mind. Every week she would make up excuses to not come in; I think she made the doctor excuse 5 times in an 11 week internship (inititally I thought she might be deathly ill)! After this repeated delinquancy she didn't even show up - no call, no email. I sent an email asking what happened. She said her grandfather had died and she was out of the state for the entire week. Unfortunately for her I had another intern that I trusted very much who was in class WITH her several times that week - total lie. So I fired her. The only time I've fired an unpaid intern.

Two weeks later she left a tea and cookie basket with her internship paperwork inside. A bribe? She wanted me to still fill out her paperwork so she could pass the class! Of course I didn't fill it out.

I've become very selective with internships; it's as serious as applying for a full time job. If the internship goes well, it can lead to part time work for the student while they are in school. If that goes well it leads to a full time job after graduation which works out brilliantly for me because I've had a full year to train them and they come on board well past the learning curve of a new hire.


Unpolished Parenting said...

It is mind blowing how people can blow off work like that bad intern and think they can get away with it! But it sounds like those intenrships are a good way to find out how people really are in a work environment!

Jennifer said...

I work with student teachers frequently and the behavior often amazes me. I have only been in the position to tell one person that they didn't have what it takes to be a teacher and that was such a hard conversation! On the other hand, the student teacher we have right now is tremendous and I hope she gets a full time job!

Julia Ladewski said...

interns, good interns are so hard to find. and when you find them, you just know!!! great points, great tips!!!

Anonymous said...

Some people just take interships for granted.

crazywildberry said...

Very interesting post. Love reading your work stories! Love you!

kt moxie said...

I find that some students have just not grown up yet. And maybe they never will...

Caterina said...

Hmmm, would it be out of place for me to say that you are one tough cookie? Sorry.

Yes, that intern was out of place (unacceptable lies) and yes, you did the right thing, no other option. But at the same time, maybe she/he needs guidance. I work with students (who aren't even close to intern level yet) and see how much work needs to be done. Maybe I'm just a softie?

Again sorry, don't mean to offend.

R. Molder said...

Hi SoFla - you are so sweet and no offense taken. Yes I definitely could have invested more time in that intern. It's hard to balance what needs to be done with extra time spent coaching which is exactly why I've narrowed down interns to one or two per year. No need to apologize, I welcome criticism!

crazywildberry said...

A thought that came to mind today about that intern. If you would have bent over backwards to help that intern out, she would have probably told a slacker friend or two about your company and before you knew it, you would have been drowning in slackers interested in being given the extra attention and the easy grade/ papers filled out. So, I would keep making it harder for them to get into your company. The real world doesn't give extra chances. The real world would have slammed the door in her face. The fact that you let her make her excuses for a while shows that you were giving her chances.
Ok... enough of my thought for one day... my head hurts! LOL!