I am appalled by people who refuse to take responsibility for the next generation of professionals. This often shows up in the “that’s not in my job description” attitude and is illustrated when a person has the ability and opportunity to teach tangible skills and/or share their wisdom, but decides not to do it.

Maintaining an internship program is part of the cost of fostering the next generation. It is a cost that should be borne with good humor and patience; few students are equipped with all the knowledge, tools, and network that they will need to succeed, and so an internship is often the first step in the process of building one’s toolbox.

But there are those who complain that interns are too time-consuming, that they don’t always understand the nuances of their tasks, and that they make mistakes. However, there is not a single one of us that didn’t make plenty of mistakes when we were starting a new job or a new career. Our colleagues helped pull us through.

When you refuse to take on an intern, or resent the time commitment that your current intern requires, you are sending a signal to your colleagues that you don’t value your profession enough to teach the next generation. You are signaling that you believe that your day to day work is more important than the work of others. Unless you can work and succeed in a vacuum, those signals will hurt your career.

I love this example of a one-day internship, which was arranged for a seven year old child. It is an example of the kind of people with whom I want to work – people who make it a priority to teach the next generation despite their own heavy workload, who pay it forward to their future colleagues.

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