Coffee with the Interns

A chance to reflect on career lessons I’ve learned from others

Jeff Hunsaker

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Image by funsworks from Pixabay

In a normal, non-pandemic time, it’s customary in one’s company to meet with the summer interns for a discussion on their experience, your experiences, and how we might learn from one another. Instead of face-to-face, I enjoyed a Zoom call with around a dozen of my employers’ interns last week.

I enjoyed my coffee. They did not appear to be imbibing. Maybe Gen Z doesn’t drink coffee? I should have asked.

I wasn’t nervous and had done this sort of thing previously but I wanted it to be a good use of their time. These situations always spark my imagination in revealing some enlightening concept or some epiphany of knowledge that lights up everyone. It never happens, but I still script out the movie in my head that way.

The coordinator scheduled an hour. An hour? What am I going to talk about for an hour?

We talked for over an hour. Get me on a roll and I will go non-stop.

Regretfully, I did too much of the talking. I could have learned a lot more from the interns. I think a lot of that though was due to the format. It’s awkward to both meet someone for the first time and try to connect in a large group of your peers.

Despite this, they asked great questions and we held a positive exchange. I attempt to capture some of the advice below as well as things I’ve learned in my career:

  • Be a sponge: proactively learn everything you can. Spend your free time (ok, not all of it) studying up on something you’re curious about. Always be developing your skills. The world is moving at light speed. You need to prepare ahead of time for the opportunities and demands of your career. Be ready.
  • Say ‘yes’: when opportunities come up, always say ‘yes’. Just do it. Even if it’s seemingly crap work. I guarantee you will learn a lot. I once cleaned my fraternity house bathrooms for a discount on my rent. I can’t describe the horror but I endured. It taught me that if I could do that, I could do just about everything — it also taught me humility and that no job was ‘beneath me’. Say ‘yes’.
  • Be a Learn it All vs a Know it All: Sage advice from Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. Strive…

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Jeff Hunsaker

Curious technologist interested in writing, health, personal improvement, and continuous learning.