Top 4 things not to use your interns for

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At UniversalGiving we love our interns and recognize the tremendous amount of value they bring to us. We want all of our interns to experience growth not only as employees but also as human beings during their time with us.

Some of us have been working in the workforce for 20, 30, 40 years plus.  We’ve done a lot of things over our career, step by step, building ourselves and organizations to new levels.  

In your mind, you’ve  worked very hard to advance yourself and your company.  You’ve also rolled up your sleeves thousands of times to help make sure the team can succeed, whether that’s raising a new round of funds, or xeroxing.   Meeting with a millionaire investor, or cleaning the dishes after a team event.   You feel you have paid your dues.

Yet being a part of a company and culture isn’t genuinely driven by that mindset.  Your devotion to work should be because you want to, and would like to help. That sincerity will advance you light years.   Not only will your managers recognize your genuine attitude, but you will feel a sense of integrity within, which is driving you for the right reasons to serve.  

But you might be tempted.  

“I worked so hard!  I need help.  It’s time for the young 18 year old to roll up their sleeves so I can do the important work.”

Part of that is true.  Your interns should want to serve and help in any way they can.   But it can never be your attitude in full.  People of any age deserve to have meaningful opportunities to grow. Provide them an enriching experience that will help them grow as individuals and professionals.

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So here are the top 4 things you shouldn’t ask your intern for:

  1. Go get coffee.  Everyone does this! There is no reason why you can’t get up from your office to go get your coffee and show the team that you are working to provide for yourself—your own caffeine fix!  Please keep in mind as well that as the newer generation is more socially conscious, they may not agree with caffeine or even the type of drink you are having, or even feel it is holistic or organic.  So, where you can you want to avoid any sense of conflict of values.
  2. Xerox.  We all need help with copying, faxing, and it’s okay to ask them to do it.  However, please be mindful that this should be no more than 5-10% of their job.  They are coming there to gain experience, not to press buttons.
  3. Personal errands.  Unless you have an agreement—which usually isn’t the case for college interns that they are doing personal errands for you—that should never be the case.  They are coming there to get work experience, not to pick up your dry cleaning.  Remember, they are an important part of the brand that you are building.  They can post online about anything that concerns them, but more important is that you want to make sure you’ve got a great relationship with them.
  4. Leave them manager-less.  If you are not present, make sure someone is.  They are looking for guidance, they want to grow, and they want to learn.  They don’t have anyone to go-to to ask normal questions about business.  They are going to feel stranded, and their work product will suffer, their experience will suffer, and your relationship with them will be not so strong.

We all need help and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Make sure that you give your interns positive ways to succeed in the workplace and build their resume.

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