Uneven Demand

My blog for this past week is going to focus on something that I felt particularly affected me and some of the other interns over the course of the week, and that is that I was pretty underutilized. Since I finished my last major project a few weeks ago, and since my ultimate supervisor is rarely in the office as he travels a lot for his other job, I have only had a few little odds and ends tasks to fill the workday. However, what that ends up meaning is that I get stuck with a ton of down time reading Wall Street Journal articles waiting for another email with another task to complete. Similarly, the intern that sits next to me has never really had a big project, but she will be completely inundated with tasks for hours or days at a time and end up staying at the office until 7 in the evening some nights while the next she’ll be in a similar position as me with very little to do. As annoying as the start-and-stop workflows can be, I understand that they are generally the part of any job, but the glaring inefficiency of that model, in particular at this office, is hard to swallow.

In this situation, I think the biggest hurdle to more effective use of interns is the siloing that effectively ends up taking place in the office. In the think-tank model, it appears that everyone is kind of on their own in terms of what they want to pursue and how they want to pursue it. There is very little coordination or oversight from the top, so each of the directors or fellows ends up with an intern or two that they ended up interviewing and hiring at the start of the summer. Thus, without the centralized process, each of those directors or fellows is hesitant to ship off their intern on another project or ask for another intern’s help as there is very little understanding of what anyone else in the office is doing at any given time. While this model certainly does have its advantages as well, especially in terms of what think-tanks do, I would vastly prefer a different, more profit-motivated model that would suit my work-style preferences better. One more reason why I will be looking strictly at the private, for-profit sector for opportunities come graduation.

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