On the first day of the internship, everybody is quietly asking: “Dude, who brought their parent to orientation?” But, they quickly learn, that’s just the old intern.
The old intern is usually going through a midlife career change, perhaps prompted by a layoff, a midlife crisis, a belated decision to attend college or a bucket list that includes, “Do an unpaid internship.”
While the other interns debate which college has the best party scene or which interns are most likely to hook up, the old intern shows off photos of children and pets. Nearly every conversation turns into a battle of generations: iPod vs. Walkman, Lady Gaga vs. Madonna, You Tube vs. VHS, text messaging vs. passing notes, cellphones vs. pay phones.
The office staff also isn’t quite sure how to act around the old intern, who in some cases is the oldest person in the office. And just before the trust fall during the intern retreat, someone in a position of power whispers to the old intern: “You can skip this if you want. We really, really do not want you to break a hip.”
(Note: I wrote an article about older interns a couple of summers ago. One of my favorite quotes was from a 26-year-old intern: “I don't want to be a den mother.”)
About #THATintern: Every intern class has “that intern” — as in,“Don’t be that intern.” Each day I introduce you to one of them. Share your ideas on Twitter using the hashtag #THATintern. And check out our Intern City page, too.