If you think about it, the modern company is no different from the food chain in the animal kingdom. I’d compare managers to lions in this analogy – their pristine, orderly corner offices are as coveted as the proverbial Pride Rock. Also, if you find yourself in the company of one, you’re probably about to be eaten alive. The CEOs and business owners, on the other hand, can easily be compared to the grand elephants – though they’re generally silent, constantly overshadowed by the aforementioned carnivores and you rarely see them, everyone kind of accepts that they run the show even if they don’t spend their days baring their teeth (tusks?) at you.
But just as in the animal kingdom, it’s the ones at the lowest rungs of the food chain that get overlooked. Call them what you will, but having worked at several companies as an intern myself, here’s 5 reasons why your intern is one of the most important parts of your business:
1. WE (LITERALLY) FEED YOU
Alright, let’s get this out of the way, because we all know it’s true. In line with the food chain comparison, all the animals at the bottom (deer, mice, fish etc.) will eventually serve as food to the more powerful animals above them. However, if the rat population dies, the owls will struggle to see the next day. Similarly, ask yourself how many times you would have fallen asleep at your desk in the past week if your intern hadn’t brought you your morning coffee. How many deadlines would you and your colleagues have missed had it not been for Intern X’s astounding upper body strength, giving him/her the ability to carry 13 McDonald’s orders during lunch?
How to thank us: At least give us the right tools to remember all those orders. I personally suggest the latest iPad mini with built-in instructions on the 50 different ways to order “Kopi”.
2. WE BRING MEANING TO YOUR LIFE
I’m just going to come out and say it – working life can be really boring. You start by scheduling a meeting at 4 o’clock, a lunch catch-up with an old colleague next Thursday and before you know it your weeks are just endless cycles of work-related droll. In comes the intern who has a smorgasbord of things you’ve all but forgotten about: Youthfulness! A social life! A wardrobe that consists of more than 5 outfits! Make fun of our tireless addiction to finding “insta-worthy backgrounds” for #ootds all you like; you can’t deny it – you love our youthful energy.
How to thank us: Promote our Instagram pages on the company website. Pro tip: You can also, consider drinking the blood of your competitors to achieve a similar youthful glow.
3. WE DO EVERYTHING. YES, EVERYTHING.
100 years ago, child labour was rampant. Today, our modern society has progressed by leaps and bounds – we now call it internships. Scanning documents, carrying heavy loads, mopping the office floor… you name it, and interns have to do it. Far be it for me to call this a bad thing, though – this means that your intern is the most valuable part of your company. Hand your sales director a broom and see how long it takes for him to shove it back up your, uh, desk. Interns come into the company knowing that their job description comes with an unwritten clause: You will help everyone with anything. And this means that you have a young, multi-talented, all-rounded, eager employee who is as familiar with the HR policies as he/she is with the customer service procedures.
How to thank us: Give us the pay of everyone in the office combined.
4. WE HAVE THE POWER TO REVIVE DEAD PROJECTS
Everyone knows the saying “curiosity killed the cat”, but not many people know how it ends. Here’s the other part of that sentence – satisfaction brought it back. Sure, it may be annoying the first 10 times your new intern comes up with a stupid idea that would get your proposal thrown out the window. But I promise you, there will come a point where you find yourself thinking… Hey, we’ve done the same things over and over again. The higher-ups/clients are calling for new ideas. Help! And help, the intern shall. Don’t forget, interns are essentially fresh faces in the workforce and have yet to be jaded by years at the same job. Trust in us every once in a while. It may just pay off.
How to thank us: Every time your intern comes up with an innovative idea, throw a treat in their direction. Eventually, your intern will be well-trained and will come up with ideas whenever you step into the room. Bonus points if you ring a bell every time you feed them.
5. WE’RE THE HEIRS TO YOUR THRONE
The biggest mistake any employer can make is to assume that interns are merely cheap labour to take on any sai gang work (slang for lowly jobs). That mindset is a waste of a fantastic opportunity to grow your company internally. Invest in your interns. Pump industry knowledge and experience into them. Encourage their insights and nurture their progress. The end result? A well-trained, loyal employee who will know your company inside out and, more importantly, will be happy to keep on giving back to the company. A person’s first step into the working world is a scary and difficult one. If you make your intern’s stepping stone a solid one, he/she will join you in paving the rest of them for you.
How to thank us: Every heir deserves a good title. Start by calling us “Lord/Lady Intern”. We’ll appreciate it.
A FINAL NOTE
Seriously, all jokes aside – interns are as important to the company as your full-time staff. Granted, we may not have as much experience, but for the most part we are eager to learn and earn our paychecks. The most disheartening thing for a young individual is to step into an office looking forward to starting their journey in a career they love, only to realize they’re only there to make coffee and file papers. A big thank you to all the companies out there who understand this and take care of their interns. The little guys can make big waves. Even the tiny flea was responsible for the biggest plague outbreak in human history. Lesson here is – if you don’t treat your interns well, you can bet they will start spreading an incurable disease in your office: resentment.