Leader/Follower Relationships with 23-Year-Old Bosses

During this internship, I have had four direct supervisors to report to. The first half of my internship, I reported to the Women’s and Men’s/International Assistants in PR, and for the second half of my internship I have been reporting to the Production and Digital Assistants in Advertising.

The team in PR had a very difficult time trusting the interns. We basically managed all of the sample trafficking to U.S. National, U.S. Regional, and various International publications. Because we had such an important role, we were heavily monitored by our supervisors. Joey, the Women’s Assistant, has been working at Louis Vuitton for about a year now and was more comfortable delegating work to us and not holding out hand every step of the way. Rashida, the International Assistant and temporary Men’s assistant, was much more apprehensive with giving us tasks and believing that we could do them without making a mistake as she had only started the job two weeks before I did.

Joey usually loops us in on emails with magazine editors and assistants so we can see for ourselves what samples are needed for what shoots and also when to schedule samples to return from the shoots. Joey also keep a document listing all of the shoots for every week that the interns can refer to when we want to get a head start on packing up for shoots. Joey has been a good boss but his young age really shows in him playing favorites by picking a favorite intern who was also here last semester and going to lunch with her and giving her all of his tasks instead of utilizing the three new, eager to learn interns that he has for the summer.

Rashida, however, never loops us in on emails and tends to give us shoot information right when the samples need to be sent out. Rashida usually comes down to pack up her own samples, as she does not trust us to pack the correct items, and we even need to call her back down when the samples are actually going out so she can recheck the garment bag that she already packed.

This last minute, disorganized way of working has not been effective and ends up taking more time than necessary. We do a lot of send outs each week and 98% of the time, no mistakes are made. The second that a mistake is made, or Rashida thinks that a mistake is made, Rashida tends to dwell on the mistake and then think that we have no idea what we are doing. She has trouble recognizing that we have done this job right so many times and that making a mistake does not mean that we haven’t learned how to do things properly.

Rashida has not developed a leadership style yet as we are the first interns she has ever had to manage. She prefers to dwell on the negative rather than focus on the positive, which does not motivate us to want to do better in the future. I have been trying to prove myself during this internship in order to use these connections in the future to get a job, but that has been very difficult to do as I have been given no positive feedback.

Myself and another intern, Jack, were going to speak to the Women’s Manager, Devan, about the problems with Rashida but ended up not saying anything. We like Rashida as a person and she has started to open up to us about the difficulties she has been having in her new role and so we did not want to pile onto her problems. I think that Rashida wants us to learn and do well but she gets too caught up in how she looks to her boss as she is so new at her job and is still trying to prove herself. It’s been a struggle figuring out what to do when you like the person that your boss is but you don’t like how they are as a boss.

I’m now working in Advertising, reluctantly, so I am not taking any orders from Rashida anymore, but I do still have the responsibility of compiling a weekly report for PR.