Welcome to the new interns

0008016827N-1920x1280 (Medium)Every year around this time, I get a new crop of interns.  Fresh faced, motivated and eager to learn, they are in turn an inspiration and a challenge.  Their first week comprises of a training week, introducing our software, our systems etc.  The training produces questions, a little controversy and of course new ideas.  Often they ask the questions we would not dare to ask, or the ones that are right before our eyes but we do not even see.  As a result, procedures are updated and improvements made.  Some ideas seem crazy or too expensive, others we incorporate but either way the interns bring a new perspective and add value to the team.  The training week is expensive and the time taken and energy involved is extensive, but it is worth it.

Every single one of those interns sees the world in a completely different way to most existing members of staff.  They are all expecting a bright future, they embrace new things, they are inventive and innovative, they challenge the status quo and they aren’t afraid to ask why.  It’s challenging and yet inspiring.  The challenge of course is to see the workplace the way the interns do, with fresh eyes and boundless curiosity.  I’m reminded of a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:future

When someone new joins a company it’s because they believe it’s a good place to work, they believe that they will be successful with that company and they want to get on board.  At what point does this belief disappear?  When does a worker change from being innovative and eager into cynical and afraid of change?  Even more importantly, how can we as leaders help prevent that change?  How can we turn back time and get people back involved, back invested?

I read an interesting blog earlier The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, a Leadership Perspective 6 of 15.  I particularly liked this part:

0002047843SS-849x565While leaders can’t force the individuals of a team to change their ways, they can encourage personal development and performance improvement by finding ways to connect and explaining the benefits of continuing to improve.

and also:

There’s no growth without a proper challenge.  As leaders we must look for opportunities to push our staff out of their comfort zone and try new things.
That said, we have to remember “outside of the comfort zone” does not mean out of the strengths zone.  For example, if someone is great at technical projects and programming but not good in public speaking, sending this person to give a presentation to Sr. management is not a good way to stretch him/her.

When interns / new workers arrive, they expect to be out of their comfort zone, they expect to have to change and adapt. They expect training and development.

Another post I read: Developing talent in 2013

0010062037R-1920x1280 (Medium)We think of leadership too narrowly – the captain of the ship, the lead quarterback, the head master, the president! True leaders develop leadership in others.  Each person has something unique to offer.  Leaders draw out these strengths, help polish their presentation and build up their self confidence.  Leaders encourage Initiative – whereby others lead in helping others, solving problems, and teaching others.

Perhaps instead of developing workers, we should instead believe that we are developing leaders!  Can you imagine that? A workplace full of leaders who are all as eager and motivated as new interns, with the knowledge, confidence and experience to bring the team to even greater heights.  All I can say is wow.  I already have my plan in place for this year’s interns and for my existing team, however, having been bombarded with strange questions, having seen my workplace through their eyes, I feel inspired once again to challenge my preconceptions, to challenge both myself, the new interns and the rest of the team.  I’m dreaming of a team full of new leaders.  What about you?


11 thoughts on “Welcome to the new interns

  1. Glad some of my thoughts are passed around.

    Interns and new hires will always be out of the comfort zone and possibly out of their strength zone. Heck, many of them don’t even know what they like/dislike and what they are good at. This is one of the challenges leaders face regularly. We all want people to start producing right away, as such, we must take time to quickly figure out strengths in order to delegate and train for tasks accordingly.

  2. I’ve been working at Saint-Gobain for two years and I still have that new employee honeymoom attitude. I hope I don’t ever lose it. I am still ambitious and want to excel at my job. I like where I work and think it holds great possibilities for growth and advancement.

    1. That’s great. I been working for Saint-Gobain for 14 years now, and I love my job and the company I work for. My plan for 2013 is to inspire everyone around me to feel the same. What about you?

  3. Alesandra
    Your comments show a great empathy for your interns. And, this is so important for them – their first taste of the professional world. Working with others – ages ideas likes et al – is always a surprise for them – no schooling prepares them for people at work. From students with intern experience in my classes, I always note that the ones who develop passion for their futures have been nourished and encouraged by their most immediate supervisor or manager. Whether students intern for 3 months or one year – how their leader treats them matters — a blessing or a scar!

  4. Great comments Ann. Appreciate you stopping by. I do care about my interns and my team. I think it’s vital that interns are treated as people with potential instead of just an unpaid worker or someone who will do the tasks no-one else will do! Interns and new workers are the future of the company and should be treated accordingly.

  5. Hey Alesandra,

    I am having much fun reading your posts, even if they are old, but of course, some will never expire. I am a new member myself at the organization, I think that it is important to prepare people for the arrivals (not the newcomer but the current employees). Training on these initial weeks is important, adpating and so on, and some times it is the people who already is in the office, the one who try to lower the expectations and excitememt of the newcomer, the typical, “this should be better but it is now like that, and you will understand why with the time”, “This is suposed to be done in a way, but it is too much work so we just dont do it, but copy it from the last project” and so on.
    We are as you say eager of new challeneges, we were selected because of some reasons and now sometimes you see that there is not much that you can do if the firts challenge is to motivate those who receive you…

    Great job! keep going!

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