Dear Employers: An Open Letter, From Your Interns

Dear Employers,

As a young professional entering the workforce for the first time, I have heard one too many horror stories about what to expect from you.

I’ve been told to be cautious; to work with my head down; to put my emotions on hold and “wait my turn”; and to simply cross assigned tasks off a to-do list. I am no longer listening to any of this advice. I am too eager to contribute to a high-quality organization’s success to just keep my head down and wait for you to employ my skills!

I refuse to remain an under-utilized, misunderstood cog in the machine simply because I am young. I refuse to see myself the way you see me. Recent grads are often treated poorly because we have limited experience and are said to be “desperate” for employment. Too many millennials are given useless, menial tasks to complete, instead of being given real responsibility that many of us can manage easily, and are eager to take on right now.

You may think interns are only hired to accomplish tasks that are “beneath you”. You may see me as an intern in a bad economy who will do anything to keep a position. You may take me for granted because you (and I) know there are 1,000 people lined up behind me ready to work. You may see me as someone whose purpose is to get you coffee, schedule your ride to the airport, and pick up your dry cleaning…

I am so much more than that.

I am hungry to learn from you. I am itching to work hard to help you succeed. I am absorbing all of the (valuable) information you will impart to me as my mentor. I am willing to bust my ass to help strengthen your brand. And I would love to show you how much passion and energy I can bring to your organization. And… I am happy to complete tasks you don’t have time for – if they add value to the company I am helping you grow.

I chose to apply to your position not because I just need any internship. I chose to apply to your internship specifically. I am rooting for your success. I have the talent and ability to help you build your company.

If you treat me with the respect I deserve, and allow me to have some creative freedom and responsibility, I will prove myself to you.


– Interns




About the Author: Erica Roberts graduated from Oregon State University in 2011 with a B.S. in Marketing. She is an avid reader and writer, and is extremely passionate about social media. Erica currently holds several part time marketing positions, including a social media internship with YouTern, and is searching for a full time career. Connect with Erica on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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  • I like the sentiment here and appreciate the passion and excitement that many interns bring to the table.  But there is another side to this.
    First of all, there’s a difference between being treated poorly and being asked to prove yourself.  If you’re truly being abused as an intern (get me coffee, go clean my car, etc.), then that’s not a company you want to work for anyway. 
    On the other hand, both interns and new hires often lack the perspective to understand that they are being assigned seemingly menial tasks for a reason.  It’s a good way to learn what the company does while also proving your basic skill set.  I’ve had several interns and new hires complain that they weren’t being given enough responsibility, while at the same time making errors on the basic tasks they were assigned to complete.  Why would I trust someone with complex tasks if they can’t handle simple ones? 
    The point is this: the best way to prove you are worthy of more responsibility is to do whatever task is assigned to you, do it well and error-free, do it with enthusiasm, and demonstrate that you can be trusted.  In contrast, one of the worst ways to prove you are worthy of more responsibility is to complain about not being given enough responsibility. 

    • Tom, I couldn’t agree with you more and I am glad you brought this up. I believe in the process of “proving yourself”, and I understand that employers need to test out new hires/interns before handing over major, revenue generating projects. I wouldn’t expect employers to give more responsibility to an intern who is making constant mistakes. However, I do expect employers to put their trust in an intern who has put their faith and hard work into an organization and completed all projects with success. Thanks for the comment, you brought up some really valid points. 

  • Eject

    I adore the naive, determined attitude that can’t yet anticipate that much of what is written applies to more experienced people too (and increasingly so). Employers don’t get that probation is a two way street at any stage. Misunderstood cog because you are young? That’s not actually an age related issue. Senior workers could just as easily complain that youth is given more opportunity and better projects because a lot of them are willing to work longer hours with their passion and energy for less pay (than more senior workers), while (somewhat) older people would prefer to, well, see their children from time to time. There are MUCH bigger issues and dynamics at play that what this article presupposes. Having said all that though… good for you Erica! I can’t wait for your generation to enter the workforce and turn it on its head. The time has come.    

    • I appreciate the feedback! We sometimes forget that young people aren’t the only ones facing discrimination in the workforce – everyone has to fight for their spot. Thank you for the kind words, I’m also excited for Gen Y to accomplish new things!