Sunday, September 27, 2009
Last week I spoke to a large group of interns we brought into our organization this year. We made a conscious effort to deepen our bench and build from the bottom with some quality people. I view them as the future of our organization. I have put a little microchip on each of them and plan on coming back in about 20 years and see them all running the place!
And what a great group they are -- positive (OK...maybe a little naive but let's not spoil it!), ambitious, and ready to learn. I feel like a college coach looking at this year's group of recruits. They are so talented, eager to make a difference, and ready to "take the hill!"
In any case, I wanted to lay out my expectations for this group. I used the acronym -- I.N.T.E.R.N. I know, I know...but it was all I could come up with on my way into work. Here was my charge to this great group:
I -- Innovate. Our organization is counting on the new ideas that they will undoubtedly inject. I want them to take risks, to be bold, to push us, to challenge the status quo. I want this group of interns to be creative, to find new solutions to old problems. We need more innovators.
N -- Never quit. Interns need to not let their lack of understanding be an excuse for not accomplishing the mission. We cannot accept failure. I want them to ask questions, to learn, to find a way. Too many employees let the clock determine their output. I want interns to find a way to make the output meet the mission. No matter what. Whatever it takes. They are young and hungry. I want to see them put that into action where it counts. Accomplish the mission young troopers!
T -- Talk among yourselves. We brought in a large group this year. I want them to share lessons learned, to bond early, and to build relationships for a lifetime. One of the group has already responded to my challenge and is setting up a network to connect both inside the office and while off-duty. I love it. The sooner they feel like they are members of a community, that they are not alone, that they can share challenges and frustrations with peers who might help them, the more confident I am that they will fight, not just for themselves, but for each other!
E -- Energy. They have it. A lot more than most of us. Interns need to bring that energy into the workplace. Have fun, make people laugh, make mistakes and figure things out. Listen, we've all been there. But if interns cannot bring energy into an organization, then no one can! Brighten up a room, ask stupid questions, and bring that energy.
N -- (K)nowledge. OK, this is the "Ranger" in me ("N" is for "Nowledge." Ha!). Interns should be on a quest for information. Much of this is self-study and learning from your peers. All of our interns have formal and informal mentors to help further their growth. Supervisors are always watching. In a professional organization like mine, I also want them to continue to pursue growth through things like graduate school, professional registration, and other credentials. Trust me -- it gets much harder when you start to develop roots. Get those things early and keep growing -- personally and professionally.
That's it, INTERNs! You have your marching orders! I am counting on you! Don't let me down!
For the rest of us, especially those of us who might wish for a "do-over," it is never too late to be young at heart. Those young people are counting on their leaders to take them over that hill! That's Leader Business!
Image courtesy of www.chicagonow.com.