Last week Justin Kwan, a second-year analyst at Barclays PLC, made headlines for writing a demoralizing hazing letter to the bank's new crop of summer interns. The manifesto, titled "Welcome to the Jungle," sent a chill down the spines of interns everywhere.
Beginning with the phrase "Welcome to Power," Kwan warns them to always "be the last ones to leave every night...no matter what," noting they should bring a pillow or a yoga mat for those late nights sleeping under their desks. He also advises them to "have a spare tie/scarf or two around. You never know when your mentor will run out of napkins," and "bring breakfast in for your respective mentor."
Turns out the joke was on Kwan. According to Gawker, he was allegedly fired not once, but twice, for the email. On Friday he was reportedly let go from Barclays, along with being preemptively fired from a new job at The Carlyle Group, where he was expecting to start this summer.
Kwan's "10 Power Commandments" did have one salvageable merit: a lesson in how not to act in the workplace.
We've turned the table and added a few (less snarky) commandments of our own for employers who want to get the most out of their new worker bees.
10 Empowering Commandments
- Meet with your interns in person and spell out your expectations for work performance. Interns worked hard for this opportunity, they want to do a good job.
- Don't leave interns in a vacuum, encourage them to ask questions. There's nothing worse than leaving an intern to guess what they should be doing, and then having them do it wrong. Open lines of communication benefit everyone.
- Be open to your interns' ideas. Sure, they don't have as much experience as other employees, but they could surprise you with a refreshing new perspective.
- Make an effort to be inclusive. Invite interns to work events and engage them in conversation. The more they feel part of the team, the more comfortable they will be to contribute.
- A company isn't a frat house, so don't haze your interns. In a professional workplace treat all coworkers--yes, even subordinates--with respect. You never know, in a few years they could end up being your boss.
- When you give interns menial work, explain how it fits into the bigger picture. Providing context for what might seem like a meaningless task elevates its importance, and hopefully their performance.
- When an intern does a good job, let them know, then try to reward them with more challenging responsibilities. Their talents might just surpise you.
- Use a new batch of interns as an extended, experiential job interview. It's a lot more telling than 30 minutes with an HR person--and hopefully you'll find some diamonds in the rough you'll ultimately want to hire.
- When an intern makes a mistake, take the time to provide constructive criticism. Teachable moments make them smarter workers, and ultimately your life easier.
- Finally, remember: You were an intern once, too. Don't scare them. Inspire them.