• Pay it forward with career advice

    by  • August 23, 2013 • Career Transition and Management • 0 Comments

    As the internship and summer job season reaches its peak, ask not what your intern can do for you, but what you can do for your intern. Pay it forward with some career advice.

    As the internship and summer job season reaches its peak, ask not what your intern can do for you, but what you can do for your intern. Pay it forward with career advice.

    The summer months are always an odd time as far as the job market is concerned: a lot of people are on holiday, they are not around to interview, they are not around to make decisions. It is – generally speaking – a wasteland of a month when it comes to jobs.

    If you own or run a business, it’s a time when the market is flooded with skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour: students on holiday and recent graduates. Most of them can be employed for half the minimum wage (if not for free!) and help you clear tasks you never had the time to go through during the year: filing, organising, scanning of documents, reconciling expense reports… Get an intern or office junior to get some work done.

    This employee pool is a fantastic workforce that can complete tedious jobs well for relatively low cost. It is when I read stories like this in the news that I am saddened by the realities that exist behind internships and the competition for positions (that may not even be there): are they really so few and so scarce that a young person should risk their life for them?

    Taking a queue from this wonderful HBR blog, here are a few extra tips and ways you can help your interns or office juniors:

    Show them LinkedIn and connect with them

    Spend an hour (or even 30 minutes) with them, explaining how LinkedIn is different to facebook and Twitter and why it is important for them if they are looking for a job. Help them put a profile together that would be appealing to prospective employers.

    You may also want to let them know about privacy settings on their other social media outlets and why (at least for the duration of the job search) they should refrain from posting unseemly information.

    Talk to them about transferable skills

    There are very few people who have a strong understanding of their skill-set and even fewer who are comfortable talking about them. This observation is based on years spent in outplacement projects, working with people, aged 18 to 78, probably over 5,000 of them over the past 6 years or so. Students fresh out of education are even further behind on this cure.

    Getting them to understand what they are good at and how to use skills they’ve learnt in their placement with you, in other jobs and during their time in school/university will make it much easier for them to successfully get and go through interviews.

    Be honest

    Give them constructive feedback. If they haven’t realised how good they were in doing a particular job (no matter how dull or tedious) – tell them. If you were pleased with their work, tell them. Equally – if they thought they were gods’ gift to you but fell short, tell them. If they had made mistakes, explain what those were and how to avoid them in the future.

    Glossing over things or keeping it bottled up will help neither you nor them.

    Be appreciative

    Did they do a good job? Did you (or your team) enjoy having them around or found them beneficial? Regardless of whether or not you’ve paid them, get them a small token of your appreciation: a gift card or iTunes voucher with as little as £10 or £20 would mean a lot to them.


    Agree? Disagree? Comment below!

    Would you like to learn more about helping people get jobs? Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.


    Image of JFK is borrowed from abcStudios website,


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