Working with student interns from the Communications Department at the University of Houston, as I am doing this semester, reminds me of the old adage, “You’re never too old to learn.”
The students come to Houston Woman Magazine to put into practice much of the knowledge they have acquired over the course of their college careers. At the same time, they look to me to help them perfect some of the skills not quite ready for prime time (that first job). As their mentor for 12 weeks, helping them do well when they take that all-important next step is a responsibility I enjoy — and take seriously.
Since most of the interns I work with are studying to be writers, many opportunities to write are provided here!
The interns write articles for our blog, Houston Woman Wire. So, posting to that blog is done more often each day.
The interns cover meetings. So, Houston Woman Magazine is able to say, “yes,” to more requests for coverage.
The interns do research and conduct interviews. So, each issue of our publication has more articles in it than if interns were not part of our team. Clearly, interns are crucial to Houston Woman Magazine being able to provide all the services it does.
I’ve been very lucky when it comes to interns. All have been good, hard-working young people, eager to learn and contribute as much as they can. And, despite the generation gap between them and me, all have been respectful of my time and my feedback. What they see and like, I think, are my passion for journalism and my sincere interest in what comes next for them.
I want interns to learn a lot while they are here. So, I do my best to teach and emphasize the things I view as most important.
Some of the “important” things are directly related to gathering facts and putting them down on paper. I want them to know the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook (which we follow here). I want them to know how to include the 5 W’s in paragraphs that are well constructed and easy to follow.
But, some of the “important” things have nothing at all to do with journalism. Instead, they deal with business basics — the things they need to know to keep that first job once they get it.
Often, they hear me say, “You must respect what others inspect.” Or, another favorite of mine, “You must manage what others measure.”
I remind them often that these comments apply to so many things in business. Like getting to work on time, every day. Like getting the assignments completed when due. Like knowing when not to call a client’s cell phone number. Like knowing when not to send a text (instead of making a call or sending an email).
I tell them, “If you heed this advice, you will be the favorite of every boss you ever have — including me!”
I get into all this because I’ve learned not to assume anything. Not all student interns have been exposed previously to a business environment, and some just don’t know what they don’t know. Mentors need to teach these kinds of lessons, as well.
Make no mistake, working with college interns is a learning experience for me too, and that’s an added bonus.
From them, I’ve learned a lot about pop culture, trends in fashion, the best music to download on my iPod and the most helpful apps to install on my iPad. I’ve learned about how they think politically and how they’d like to change the world. I’ve learned not all 20-somethings see and do things exactly the same way.
Over the years, interns have taught me a lot, and some things I've learned have been really important. For example, making general statements about those of a certain generation (as some are prone to do) is just not wise.
It’s something I will always remember!
Question and Answers
Orange and Pink
Pleasure of Your Company
Choices and Change
Do Overs and Second Chances
Taking a Sabbatical
Ghosts and Goblins
Dog Days of Summer
Bones of Success
The Power of Seven
Spirits of the Season
What can I do to help you?
Back to the Future
Women and Philanthropy
Tiny Little Efforts
Beyond the Passion
Election of 2008
Lessons from IKE
No time for fooling around
For love or money?
Don't worry; be happy
Work and Life
Red-hot and true-blue
Mothers and Manners
Passions of the Heart
Endings and Beginnings
Holding on to Summer
Giving thanks & paying it forward
Renewing Old Friendships
Summertime! And the livin' is easy?
A different kind of wonderful
Gratitude & Grace