Talking Shop: Why We Feed Our Interns
I like to think our office environment is a little bit different than most. We don't do cubicles, quiet office days and boring staff meetings. We are a loud and excited bunch who love to celebrate birthdays, with build your own baked potato bars and carrot cake. We attend wedding dress fittings, talk about what wildlife is real, discuss our future, ask questions and listen, really listen, for what we hear in response. We have potlucks and dance parties. We work hard at what we do and we have a lot of fun while we do it.
Each week, when our staff is all finally in one room together, we gather around a long conference table, set up with some sort of feast. We grab food and catch up on anything and everything while we eat. This one day is almost a holy day for us. Each week, Heather & I plan what we're bringing to feed the interns, what we'll say "Thank You" to them with this week. We feed our interns because we want to, not because we feel bad for them or want them to do more work for us. We want to show them they are appreciated.
We are not "better" than they are. We are not smarter or more deserving of anything than they are. They are not beneath us in any way because they are interns.
We have eight of the smartest, most dedicated, passionate, and driven people I've ever met working with us. They're at least 50% of the reason we've been able to come as far as we have in such a short period of time.
We were drowning in the beginning. Meetings happened at Village Inn and we scrambled to make sure every facet of our business was getting some attention. We were in way over our heads and we needed help. We desperately reached out on Instagram, hoping we would get one person who might be interested in this crazy dream we had.
When our first intern, Ariana, joined our team, people said "An intern? That must be so nice. Having someone to bring you coffee and all."
We've never once asked them to bring us coffee. Or run any other errand for us for that matter. They're not here to fetch things for us or do the dirty work we don't want to do. They're here to learn, experience and grow.
They give up their time and talents to us in exchange for something. I hope we're giving them experience that benefits them out in the world, passion to follow their dreams, and curiosity to always try something new.
When each of them starts work with us, we ask them to define their position with us. What are they passionate about? What do they want to gain from working with us? We don't hire a body to fill an empty position. We hire a passionate person to grow their skills & create experts, when and if they leave us.
We've very intentionally created this culture in our office. We've cultivated what kinds of people we want working with us and what that means in a broader picture of our company.
If you're in the market for an intern, remember this when you hire them: they are a second set of hands, yes. But they are also another mind and another heart for your company.
Cultivate them well.