A Call to Leaders: Nine Things Your Summer Interns Learned From You This Summer

College students are finishing up their summer internships and work experiences within various industries and places around the world.  They are learning functional skills, building new relationships at work, and involved in special projects where they are making a greater social impact.  I interviewed a group of students and asked them about what they are learning about leadership this summer.  In their words, including the headers, here’s what they have to say:

1)      “Leaders Set the Tone & the Example”

·       “Management energy/ performance reflects directly on team members and team members will imitate what they see their leaders do.”

·       “Leadership starts from the top and is transitioned down the ladder. Whatever example is set will determine the structure of the entire team.”

·       “Leaders set the tone of the appointment with their patient – I noticed a team effort in tone between the doctor and patient in helping the patient get healthy.”

·       “I learned a lot about leadership and which leaders’ I learn from and which I did not. I think the leaders should encourage or take the time for learning.”

·       “When leaders’ are busy, sometimes their tone of voice is more direct and sometimes they can come across as condescending or rude which mixes the message intended.”

·       “When leaders work 14 to 16 hour days many days in a row the interns do the same which then sets the tone of the experience and expectation of work.”

·       “More feedback on my performance from my leader would be great.”

2)      “Leaders are Productive & Responsible”

·       “Leaders take initiative in keeping the ball rolling throughout the day. When the doctor is busy the nurse practitioner takes the patients to keep the schedule running smoothly, until the doctor is free.”

·       “They do more, the best measure of a leaders’ success is the success of their team!”

·       “Leaders in the workplace are always thinking of ways to do more, complete tasks (big or small) above expectations- even if it means they have to prepare more than others.”

·       “Leaders do not wait for others to give them tasks to complete, they find ways they can be productive.”

·       “They are productive and prompt.”

·       “They aren’t defined by job title/position: leaders are everywhere and are always looking for opportunities to step up and contribute to the work/success of those around them.”

3)      “Leaders are Innovative & Practical”

·       “Leaders think strategically to find the most appropriate treatment for their patient.”

4)      “Leaders are Accountable”

·       “There will be times when leaders have to take corrective action/ discipline towards their team members and it is important to keep consistency and composure when dealing with the situation.”

·       “Leaders take the blame when they make a mistake.”

5)      “Recognition Matters to The Team”

·       “When leaders show genuine care for their team members it reflects severely on performance, efficiency, and on customer satisfaction.”

·       “Recognition matters - keep your team inspired/motivated.”

·       “A heartfelt thank you is great! “

6)      “Leaders are Always Networking”

·       “They speak-up: leaders are confident, they ask questions, they have strong personalities, and they’re always networking.”

7)      "Good Leaders Delegate"

·       “While some bosses often want to micromanage everything (which is very much like my boss), I've learned that when he does delegate, we can accomplish a lot more within that day. We also learn a lot more about the ins and outs of the company, making us more helpful to other employees who work in different departments that may need information concerning our manufacturing lab.”

8)      "Leaders Need to  Communicate"

·       “This year we have a new supervisor in our and it's evident that no one told him about past inventory information, such as names of parts, amount that is in stock, etc. If the past supervisor or the operations manager would communicate more to our current supervisor, we could have spent more of that time making and sending out our products and creating more revenue.”

9)     "I Need to be Decisive"

·       “This is one of the most important traits of a leader to me. By being indecisive, in my experience, other coworkers have less respect for that person and will tend to give them less responsibility. To take control of a situation shows others that a person has the confidence to lead and step up within the company.”


What did your interns learn about leadership this summer?  How have you helped them quantify and articulate their leanings’ on their resumes and on LinkedIn?  How have you supported them to figure out what they are known for at work?  I know there are executives that are committed to seeing their interns’ succeed just as much as their business-bravo and well done! Your interns are watching and learning.

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