Millennials in the Workforce

A close professional contact who regularly takes on student interns shared this list of guidelines, which she has found necessary to include when orienting a new intern to the routine of office work.

Although the site is a non-profit educational organization, and thus the environment is more relaxed and forgiving than it might be in the typical business setting, I have seen student interns wearing sweats over a team uniform (with bags of gear piled in the corner).

Millennial students are very social creatures, and they are used to being able to choose how to channel their enthusiasm and interests. Students who are used to multi-tasking may be tempted to fill up slow spots with Facebook or Youtube, which may be acceptable in a work-study position that asks them to check out library books or just make sure people don’t vandalize the computer labs. But most entry-level jobs require stretches of solitary
vigilance — by the telephone in the front office, in the hall waiting to escort a
visitor to and from a meting, or simply waiting to get a word in edgewise while their immediate supervisor conducts routine business with a constant stream of customers or co-workers.

Seeing exactly what my contact felt had to be spelled out is a useful
starting point for the professional development component of my “Intro to Literary Study” class.

  1. The
    Center’s daily dress code is casual
    business attire
    –no jeans or sports clothing.
  2. The dress code for Center events is formal business attire, i.e. suit.
  3. When you are working, friends
    may not visit you.
  4. Cell phone use
    during work is strongly discouraged.
  5. You
    are expected to focus on your work,
    make good use of your time, and avoid interrupting your supervisor or fellow
    students unnecessarily.
  6. Please
    greet visitors, welcome them to the
    Center and ask how you can help.
  7. When answering telephones, please use this
    format:  “Hello. You have reached [ORGANIZATION
    NAME]. [YOUR NAME] speaking. How may I help you?”
  8. If you
    are stuck on a project or need
    direction, you are expected to make this known in a timely manner.
  9. Remember
    that no task is too small. All tasks
    are important to the functioning of the Center. You are expected to do your
    best work on all assignments, and to contribute to the smooth functioning of
    the Center.
  10. Team work is important to the success
    of all Center events. All interns are expected to take part in planning major
    events and to contribute ideas for carrying out projects effectively. When
    possible, you will have opportunities for decision-making and supervision.
  11. Interns
    are expected to act professionally
    in representing the Center to other departments or even people from outside the
  12. If you
    are unable to work during your scheduled
    , you must communicate this to your supervisor in a timely manner.
    Missing work or events without communicating with the supervisor is not
    acceptable or professional behavior.
  13. You are
    expected to keep all work areas neat
    and organized. File folders are to be returned to their proper places before
    you leave work.
  14. You are
    expected to document progress in
    planning and carrying
    out activities on the proper forms in the event
  15. You
    should maintain a folder under your name (Smith, Mary Spr08) on the Center
    computer that you use. Projects should be organized within your folder by title
    so that you supervisor or another student staff member can access materials in
    your absence. You should log in under the account provided to you, not your own

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