Please at least tolerate your interns

Young Guns

There was a time in my once brilliant career that, being a good corporate type, I volunteered for intern recruitment duties.

Maybe I was attracted by having the power of life and death over these young hopefuls, or maybe I was preparing myself for a career in HR once the inevitable happened and I reached that Great Bond Sales Graveyard in the Sky.

Whatever, I found myself on a train to Philadelphia, there to spend the night and report for interview duties the next morning. Do you know how many interviews you can fit in a day? I think I did about 20 at the Wharton School of Business, and never have I met a better adjusted and likeable set of brilliant youngsters. 

Three of my choices for internships made it through, and one of them is still in the market and a friend - well a LinkedIn buddy, if you know what I mean. These days recruiting new blood at universities or business schools has largely gone out the window. At my last firm we simply stuck a few ads on the websites at a couple of London business schools and were swamped with applications, some of which I professionally filtered: Nice pic - yes. No pic, bad pic – nope. But it was the summer intern round that gets everyone’s goat.

Out of a sense of dumb civic duty, as many as 6 interns would be invited into the bank for a few weeks every summer. The usual exhaustive and exhausting interviews and selection process. But when they get there what to do? It’s summer, it’s quiet, people are away - and no-one wants to have an intern gawping over your shoulder. It’s like having a youthful schoolmaster watching you do calculus. So you talk to them, tell them what it’s all about. Some of them get it. A lot of them don’t. You find the hour assigned to them is dragging. “Any questions?” “Err, no.” Or, even worse, “Why do they even need a sales guy like you? Surely the new technology will make you redundant.” And remember, you’re spending time with kids who could be your own. So you forgive and forget. Interns are there, after all, to be tolerated.


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