I'm Your Boss Not Your Best Friend
For our InternQueen.com website, I like to blog about trends we’re actually experiencing in the workplace, discussions I’m actually having with employers, and advice we’re actively giving to students. One of the common complaints I’m hearing from employers is that students don’t understand the boundaries of their working relationships. How can they treat their boss like their boss? How can they make sure they don’t cross the line between professional relationship and working relationship? If you can stomach this blog (because it’s very blunt), here are some tips for students to follow:
Communicate As Communicated With. How does your boss communicate with you? Email? Phone calls? Texts? In-Person Meetings? Follow their lead. Communicate with them in the same way they communicate with you. If they text you, don’t call them. If they email you, don’t text them. If they only like to have conversations in-person and you have something to discuss, set up an in-person meeting. Follow their communication style.
Limit Unnecessary Correspondence. I love when our interns get really involved with our projects. In fact, I want to empower them to make projects their own and to be invested. But at the same time, I don’t want constant communication from interns (after hours) asking how things are going, how I’m doing, or asking about the status of certain projects. In fact, I really shouldn’t hear much from my interns (or my team) after hours unless we have a timely deadline or an urgent issue. This is a tough point because it’s hard to find the balance. I’d suggest that interns reach out 2-3 times over the course of the semester via email to their employer to let them know they are enjoying their work or to reiterate how grateful they are for the opportunity but aside from that, keep it professional. I shouldn’t hear from my interns more than my personal friends.
No Facebook Friend Requests. Follow me on Twitter. Follow me on Instagram – IF it’s a public Instagram page. Follow me on Snapchat (as I can’t control that anyhow). Follow my company page on Facebook. But don’t request to be my friend on Facebook. You are my intern. You don’t need to see pictures of my significant other and my family, it’s just not appropriate. If your boss DOES want to be your Facebook friend (which some DO), let them initiate that conversation or send you the friend request. The only exception here is if you KNOW your boss is friends with other interns on Facebook, ask them in person, is it okay if I send you a friend request on Facebook? Don’t assume.
I Want To Hear About Your Weekend, Sort Of. In our Monday morning meetings, we make a point to ask our entire team how their weekends were. It’s a great way to get to know people, hear what they enjoy doing outside of work, and kick-off our week. And I genuinely enjoy hearing how my team spends their time. However, if you went out and got drunk, made out with a guy, or did anything involving curse words – save that for your friends and not for your boss.
Ask to Be Evaluated But Don’t Ask All of the Time. At my company, we believe in feedback. We want to give you great feedback. As The Intern Queen, I encourage students to ask their employers for feedback at least twice over the course of the semester (mid-way point) and the end of the internship. But don’t abuse this opportunity. Don’t over-ask for feedback. An executive’s time is valuable and you want to make sure you acknowledge that. In addition, suggest times that are after your internship hours. At Intern Queen, our time is scarce. We are on the west coast but the majority of our business is on the east coast. Even though we start at 8AM, we only have until 2PM to really sell and do business. If I have an hour long evaluation with an intern in the middle of the day, it really does take up valuable time. I always appreciate when interns acknowledge this and suggest meeting or speaking after hours. As the boss, I have to balance my want to help them and provide feedback with my need to run the company.
If You Are Hesitant To Ask, Run it by Someone First. Over the past few years, I’ve had odd requests come in from interns. I had someone ask if they could sleep at my house for a week. I’ve had another ask if they can use my airplane miles to visit their boyfriend. These aren’t professional requests for their boss. These are requests for friends or family members. Really think about the difference and if you are hesitant, get a second opinion.
Watch How Much You Talk About Stress. In today’s world, everyone is too busy for their own good. We all complain about how busy we are. As an intern (or an employee), try to save the complaining for friends or family. Don’t complain to your boss about how busy you are. You don’t want your boss to start treating you differently or catering to you because they think you are too busy and can’t handle it. If you need advice on how to manage your time, ask your boss (as long as you haven’t requested a ton of other things) or another employee at the company if you could set aside 15 minutes to get advice. Like I mentioned above, suggest an after-hours timeframe just to communicate that you understand how valuable business hours are.
For more internship advice, check out my internship book HERE.
For more advice on managing stress, check out my career book HERE.
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Photo by Anna McNaught.