Office Etiquette: Is It OK to Send the Intern for Coffee?
Work + Life Balance

Office Etiquette: Is It OK to Send the Intern for Coffee?

by Avery Johnson
October 16, 2015

IN A BUSY OFFICE, THE INTERN IS A FANTASTIC, OFTEN ESSENTIAL RESOURCE. SHE'S ANOTHER PAIR OF EYES, AN EXTRA SET OF HANDS, A SOUNDING BOARD, A MILLENNIAL PERSPECTIVE IN THE EDITORIAL MEETING. BUT IS SHE AN ERRAND RUNNER?   

We all remember what it was like to be the intern. What began as our first exciting step down our career paths turned out to mean stuffing envelopes, organizing filing cabinets, and picking up lunch orders.

Now that the tables have turned, we realize how interns can be an asset to our offices, enriching our spaces with fresh ideas and a willingness to help, or sometimes, a frustrating addition to manage on top of already packed to-do lists. They're there to help but setting boundaries is the key to a successful relationship between your company and its interns. So what about that morning coffee?  

THE SHORT ANSWER: YES AND NO

Sometimes, you may need someone to pick up dinner for the team meeting or scoop up coffee on the way in. While it is OK to ask the intern to assist, remember that is not the reason they are there. {Click to Tweet} Internships present an up-close look into a career option, offering skills and experience they wouldn’t otherwise get.

While interns may be assigned a list of more tedious to-dos on a daily basis, give them a sense of purpose by offering an explanation of how they are contributing to your company as well as what skills they are building during each task.

Whether it is explaining how they are learning mass data management while organizing a database or the benefits of growing your contacts list, giving meaning to the mundane will boost their morale and therefore, their quality of work.

Give Feedback

An internship should provide growth through mentorship. If a task is done improperly, invest the time to walk them through their errors rather than rushing to re-doing the task yourself.

Teach them as they go. And when they succeed? Acknowledge a job well done. {Click to Tweet}

Offer Respect

Just as you may have felt small each time someone forgot your name or ordered you to pick up Starbucks, this team member feels the same way. Make an effort to truly get to know your intern during their time in the office. You never know how much they may be looking up to you.

The more an intern feels a part of your team and appreciated by your company, the better their work ethic will be.

* * *

In our Office Etiquette series, we're answering common questions about workplace behavior. Do you have one you'd like answered in a future column? Add it to our comments section below. 

 

Photo: Devil Wears Prada (2006) via 20th Century Fox.