How to Spoil Your Intern

I am a very lucky intern.

So lucky, in fact, that I almost feel bad writing this post–I think we’ve all heard of the Internship Coordinator from the Black Lagoon, and unpaid (or grossly underpaid) internships are becoming more and more of a controversy. So writing a post about how spoiled I am seems a little silly, especially since it’s most likely job-seekers who are reading this blog, rather than employers.

But then it occurred to me that those of us who are scrounging for internships now will eventually get to a point where we’re going to have entry-level or interns under our supervision. So if nothing else, maybe these lessons will stick with those of us who have been there. Maybe this will help us to not be the future Internship Coordinators from the Black Lagoon.

“Who can tell me what ‘leverage’ means?”

The most important thing, I think, is to make sure your intern is a necessary part of the team. I’ve said before, I’ve never felt like the smallest or least important voice in the office (even if I am the littlest fish in the pond). My coworkers are sure to include me whenever they can–my manager in particular will stay back at the office so I can go on outreach or to events with the group. My manager has also been careful to ask me what my interests are so that she can include me on projects that are related to my goals. Even if I’m only doing a small part of the project–research, drafting a letter, whatever–I’m still learning more about the process and the topic itself than I would have had I not been involved.

But then there are the little things my coworkers do for me. They make sure I don’t pay for anything. Obviously I pay for my lunch every day and my gas to and from the office, but if we go out for food or drinks as an office or have to travel to an event, they refuse to let me pay for myself and will let me take my car only if it’s by far the most convenient option. When I persisted once about buying my own lunch when we took a coworker out for her birthday, the office director said that when he started his first job with an elected official, his boss’s policy was that interns didn’t pay, and he’s made sure that’s how it’s been in every office he’s been in. This seems a little much, and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to include it in this post, but considering they don’t pay much for the 40 hours a week that I work, this is a really kind gesture.

There are so many more things that my coworkers do for everyone in the office, not just me, that make this such a great place to work. One woman brings fresh roses from her garden for our desks. Everyone brings treats: we’ve had doughnuts, treats made from fresh rhubarb, and ice cream. We celebrate birthdays and holidays–we even had a retirement party for a man from a different office one time.

I’m so spoiled, I won’t even get out of bed for anything less than fresh rhubarb bars. (Click the picture for a recipe! But only if you can say ‘rhubarb bars’ five times fast!)

Do you have any dream-team internship stories? Or horror stories? If the office environment is terrible but the experience might be good, is a job worth it?

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