Daniel Ho

A Toronto-based management consultant who spends too much time thinking about coffee, riding around on two wheels, photography, books, and fried chicken!

Inert Interns Need Not Apply

Skydiving Interns
Image by Yodel Anecdotal via Flickr

Over at FT, Tyler Brule pretty much ranted about what I've been thinking. What is it with this "new generation of attention-seeking, needy, overconfident, comfortable" graduates looking for jobs?

We have a pretty simple rule at our HQ concerning entry-level posts. Unless you have special qualifications or are coming into the business at a senior level, you start on reception.

If you can juggle multiple phone lines, organise bicycles to be sent to photo shoots in Spain, get journalists rebooked on oversold flights out of Nairobi, charm visitors, keep the front of house looking spotless, help the accounts department track receipts from hotels in Seoul, write firm but diplomatic e-mails to employees enforcing house rules and also wield trays of beverages hot and cold and remember who ordered what in a packed conference room then there?s a very good chance you?ll graduate from our finishing school and take up a post elsewhere in the company. Those who think such tasks are beneath them tend not to last too long.

So when intern season officially kicks off it?s always intriguing to hear how potential candidates view their assignments and life in the world of the working. Some recent gems from a round of interviews included: ?I did an internship earlier and I was quite surprised that I was asked to help organise the library and file things?; ?when I was at a creative agency earlier in the year I thought ?let me have more input with the clients and do some writing? but that didn?t happen, so that?s why I?m here?; ?I don?t really want to help sort out other people?s stuff as I?d like to come here to work on my projects?; ?before I start I just need to tell you about my summer travel plans and when I?ll need to take time off?.

I try to offer these interviewees a sympathetic and understanding smile and not write them off as a bunch of layabouts. I even resist the temptation to track down the article from the Christmas issue of The Economist that dissected the problems with this new generation of graduates (attention-seeking, needy, over-confident, comfortable). While there are always one or two that slip through the net and end up being something of a liability, we?ve also managed to find a couple of keepers who?ll stay on and rise through the ranks. People who don?t want to pitch in with a bit of heavy lifting, don?t know that Milan is a city in Italy and not Germany and are above offering decent service to clients, guests and colleagues need not apply.

Read the entire article here.

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