Monday, June 23, 2008

The Intern Meets the Home Office

Hello All,

My "Most Favorite" intern (now everyone knows the truth LOL!) sent me this article that ran in the NY Times.

Interns, get ready for a different kind of office environment. Working in a home office will afford you a very intimate, personal and vulnerable relatonship with your employer. You really learn what it means to be in the "SERVICE" industry.


June 22, 2008, 10:32 pm

By Marci Alboher

When I read articles about interns, they often focus on how to turn the internship into a job or how to succeed at an internship within a large institution.
But few tackle the issue my intern and are facing this summer — creating a successful internship in a home office.

Before our first day, my intern asked if there was anything she needed to do. I simply told her to catch up on my blog if she hadn’t been reading it. (I was tempted, I must confess, to tell her to go see the film, “Sex in the City” and pay particular attention to the scene where Jennifer Hudson arrives in Carrie’s apartment and makes order out of chaos.)
Her question made me realize that I was the one who needed to prepare. Because I work at home, I wanted to think about what was a proper work atmosphere for an intern, especially one who is still in high school.

As some of you know, there has been a lively debate on this blog about how we dress for work. On days when I don’t have to leave my home office, it is entirely possible that I may spend my day working in the same clothes I wore to take my morning walk. Still, I dressed professionally for my intern (khakis and a sleeveless sweater), and when she arrived I was pleased that I did. She was a little dressier than I was (a skirt and a tank top with nice sandals), which made a good impression. She also knew — because she had been reading my blog — that forgoing stockings was just fine with me.

Good internships should have a combination of benefit to the employer and education for the intern. So I thought about how to stack each day with a fair mix of the two, anticipating a day of filing and making labels followed by an excursion to the Times building or a tag along on an interview. And that’s pretty much how it has been going. On the first day, the block of time I thought I’d have to dedicate to organizing my office with her disappeared. Instead, she sat across from me at my desk while we handled a series of phone calls on speakerphone. I asked her to preread my post before we reviewed it with my editor. She listened as I did a few interviews. And before you know it, it was time to go out for afternoon coffee and walk the dog, both of which we did together.

I wondered if I was crossing a line by asking her to walk the dog with me, but given the option of leaving her alone in my apartment, it seemed like an acceptable work/life blur. Asking her to walk the dog by herself, on the other hand, isn’t something I think I’d do. I also drew the line at throwing in a load of laundry while we were working together, even though my washer-drier is in my office and often running while I work.

When my intern left for the day, she told me that she was going to meet her mother who had traveled into the city to meet her for dinner and was waiting for her at the park on my corner. I offered to come out and introduce myself since I thought the mother might like to know the person in whose home her daughter was working, and she readily agreed. Her mother didn’t ask to meet me and she didn’t seem anything like a helicopter parent. It just felt like the right thing to do. We are talking about a high school, not a college student, here.

Stay tuned for the view from my intern’s side. She’ll be working on that post as the culmination of the internship.

Anyone else grappling with this issue?

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