She exits the airport. It’s February and yet her hair frizzes instantly. Welcome to Texas is the message.
“Don’t you get lonely?”
“No, Mom. Not at all,” I paused.
I quickly regretted telling the truth. My mother–who I adore–would surely remember the vulnerability I just exposed every time I boarded a plane in the future, peppering me with questions about loneliness.
Sigh. Mom was still the master. Would I ever learn?
* * *
The trip had been a long one. Two days started when the alarm sounded at 5:30 am. I am not a morning person.
On this trip, I spent one day in particular feeling out of sorts. I didn’t know what constituted appropriate attire for this work event and ultimately, I chose wrong. Worse, my clothes seemed too tight. I didn’t like what I saw each time I caught sight of my reflection.
I felt old. And I was in fact older than some of the colleagues in attendance. Some of them were of the smug married variety in spite of being younger than me.
Self doubt had me squirming for a good five hours straight. I couldn’t wait to be alone with no one looking at my dumb outfit or my bad hair day.
When the event ended, I was free to head back to my hotel. But soon after I got in my rental car, I took a detour.
I drove due west until I arrived at cliffs overlooking the Pacific coast.
This week, office buildings throughout the U.S.* will be flooded with summer interns. In some offices, the interns may already have shown up.
Part blessing, part curse, their supervisors are charged with teaching them about a possible career path while simultaneously keeping them busy enough to avoid having to hear them suck up.
Maybe that is just me.
In case my interns ever find this blog, I have a few things I’d like them to know and do. If they don’t read this, maybe they can just read my mind instead.
- Be prompt, but not early, on your first day. Your boss might be scrambling to set up your workstation and/or drink her coffee.
- Listen more than you talk. If I ask you about your weekend, I am not looking for a lengthy discourse on what club you hit. I’m being polite.
- Don’t call me Dude, Bro or Girl. Not ever.
- Make statements sound like statements, not questions.
- Don’t ask when you’re going to get to do “more interesting work.” That actually happened to me and during week 2 of an intern’s tenure.
- Before asking me something really basic, consider “can I Google this?” The answer is probably yes.
- If you email me your work and it should print on one page, but doesn’t, I reserve the right to fire you. At a minimum I will treat you with scorn for the next two weeks.
- Spellcheck everything. Every email, each document (yes, even Excel spreadsheets), all of it.
- Most assignments will have a due date, but don’t think of them as a race. I’d rather the work be done right than fast. Plus keeping you interns busy is HARD.
- Before you send your work to me, ask yourself “is this what she asked for?” The answer is probably no so cut out a step and try to fix it before I ask you to.
- Be eager to work and excited about the opportunity. But if you ever think “do I resemble a panting puppy?” you probably do and nobody needs that.
- Link to your boss and colleagues on LinkedIn if it’s used in your industry. But not the first day. Or the second. You should be busy learning the lay of the land – or at least how to log into your computer and voice mail – until week two.
- Never add your boss or senior colleagues on Facebook. If they friend you, accepting them or not is your call (usually).
- Follow your boss and new colleagues on Twitter.
- Don’t talk about your internship’s details using social media (or at all) unless explicitly directed to.
- Dress a smidge more professionally than you think is needed. Not a suit, per se, but if you show up in my office in a halter top (women), shorts, baseball cap or flip-flops (either), I may not fire you on the spot, but know that I will really, really want to.
- Don’t hook up with your boss.
- Don’t hook up with your boss’ boss.
- If you’re thinking of hooking up with a fellow intern, wait at least two weeks to do so. The feeling may pass and/or you might realize that fellow intern is a jackass who could in some way or another make it impossible for you to get a permanent job at the company.
- If you have the opportunity to date your boss’ boss’ boss and s/he is actually single, doing so and quitting the damn unpaid internship might be better than having a career anyway. Yes, I’ll go hand in my Feminist Club membership card immediately.
- Remember that internships can give you a big advantage in finding a full-time job, but also that if things go wrong, it’s [generally] not the end of the world. Keep in mind that I never did a single internship during college and instead saved my mistake-making for my first ‘real’ job post-college and I turned out fine. More or less.
What advice would you give interns?
*Do Canadian companies rely on interns the way U.S. companies do? If so, do Canadian companies pay? If yes, please don’t tell U.S. interns about this. I’m serious.
Here are five things I’d implement immediately if I ran a hotel.
1. Provide high quality hair dryers.
If you care about female business travelers, this is a must. I want to look good, but I don’t want to lug my Rusk Speed Freak in my suitcase, OK?
This evil little hair dryer pictured below is the worst-of-the-worst, but a Conair without heat control and a worn out motor doesn’t win a prize either.
Hotels should treat quality hair dryers as an upsell opportunity like they do robes. If someone steals the hair dryer, add $250 to the bill. Easy.
2. Offer breakfast for room service 24/7.
It was a quickie – just two nights!
I arrived by cab in the midst of a conference call. The valet whisked my bag inside and pointed me toward an open couch. When it was clear that my call wasn’t ending, the Concierge motioned to my purse. I gave him my license and corporate card. He checked me in and delivered my bag to my room.
My room decor, including this tarot card-inspired mural looming over my bed, was typical W. Which is to say atypical. It worked for me–although the mural may have given me some weird dreams. Who knows!
A business partner sent me sparkling wine. Next time I complain about biz travel, please smack me.
I went to California again. For work (again). First I caught Linsanity in Sacramento.
My luggage avoided joining this art installation by baggage claim. That’s a relief!
The hills freak me out to some extent. This one is steeper than the picture indicates. Trust me, ok?