Alerting your interns to avoid office romances

March 22, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

A memoir was released recently, detailing the romance in 1962 between President John F. Kennedy and his intern Mimi Beardsley (now Alford). According to an interview in a recent article in the NYT, she said her 18-month affair and her discretion was the era, the times. Then, Monica Lewinsky had a highly publicized affair with President Bill Clinton during her White House internship. The times may have changed, but the temptations are still there. As a career services professional, you might want to caution your students about restraining their libidos during their internships.

The following tips may help them avoid being a Mimi or Monica:

  • Office romances:  A no-no—unless you want to endanger that employee’s career future and you’re not concerned about your own with this company. Many companies restrict office romances—some won’t hire husband and wife teams—because they feel such a relationship distracts a productive employee from concentrating on his/her job. Students should be especially careful to reject overtures from married staff or the intern supervisor. Encourage your student interns to let you know if any untoward moves are made towards them, so hopefully you can intervene.
  • Appropriate dress:  First impressions are lasting, so urge your students to arrive at work in business attire. Short skirts or plunging necklines can be misread as invitations for sexual encounters. Dress conservatively at work, wearing dark skirts or trousers, white shirts, and a minimum of body jewelry. Neutral colors are always safe. You might have some funky outfits that you wear when you socialize with friends, but they might not be right for work functions. Interns often find inexpensive work outfits at local consignment or second-hand shops. Avoid tight clothing and perfume or cologne. Make-up should be minimal, and hairstyles simple.
  • Appropriate behavior:  Remain neutral. Don’t show any romantic inclination in the office or play favorites with your co-workers, especially with the opposite gender.  Refrain from sending emails to the object of your affection or from calling him/her on your cell phone. Your co-workers will catch on even if you think you’re being discreet. Avoid secret meetings outside the office. Someone will inevitably see you and report back to the office, and the gossip will start. Also, you’ll get a reputation for being sly or underhanded, which won’t help your internship to be a success.
  • Post-internship dating:  Be patient. Wait until after you’ve completed your internship to develop a relationship with one of your former co-workers. Keep in mind that if you intend to turn your internship into a permanent job, you might have to find a romantic interest elsewhere or choose a different company. Students might save themselves some heartbreak if they find out more about a potential dating partner before embarking on a romantic adventure. It’s more difficult to find out about a co-worker’s background than a fellow student’s.

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