Over the next few weeks, just as we are preparing to go off for our long awaited annual holidays, thousands of young graduates are looking forward to their first summer of ‘real’ work.  Exams over, passing out ceremonies completed and letters of engagement in their pockets, this annual paradox drives to the heart of what can either be the beginning of something magical or the ugly realization that student life, might well have been the best days of their lives.

I believe that the first impressions made during the early days of a young person’s career are the ones they will keep with them for a very long time. So my advice is to have young graduates start in mid September when everyone is busy and when there is a real sense of urgency in the air. (Pay them for their time on holiday if necessary but do not bring them into a half empty, half hearted office environment). And while one might want to make them feel welcome with some simple things to do, in my experience us business leaders should become much more selfish.  Let’s look at it from our side:

Here we have the brightest, most gifted, hand selected young hopefuls on the planet. They are excited to get started, they want to make fast, first Impressions, so let’s encourage them!  Why not think of all those complex and challenging issues that we, or our colleagues, never got around to solving: Issues that have been on the shelf for a very long time, even issues that might involve delicate political decisions or require a great deal of knowledge that ‘only we can solve’. 

I strongly believe that how we see our new recruits is how they will serve us in return. Patronize them and assume they are as naive and ignorant as we were at their age and they will prove us right.  See them as enthusiastic geniuses, coached and trained to solve even the toughest problems our university professors could throw at them and that is exactly what they will become. Never underestimate the power of creative unpolluted minds.

If they start in early July, when most people have left for the sun, by the time you get back in September, eight weeks of underutilized boredom will have already dulled their brains into accepting that they will have to wait at least ten years before they get even a chance to show what they believe they are really capable of right here, right now.

I am making my intern task lists now.  I have a nice bunch of really challenging projects that I am itching to get started.  Think about it, their research is really up to date, their minds are still open for all points of view, their optimism is overrunning. All they need is a gentle push and the confidence to believe that they know loads of stuff that us ‘oldies’ don’t and they’re off!

I hope I can get to them before the curse of disappointment and apathy sets in!

Have a good week,