DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend just asked me if I can hire his college student daughter as an intern this summer. The internship that she was supposed to have fell through, and she is scrambling for something to do. I do have interns on occasion, so I am familiar with working with young people in the summer and teaching them about my work.
The thing is, I don’t know if this young lady is a good fit for me. As I remember her, she tends to be quiet and shy. I have barely had a conversation with her, even though I have been around her since she was little. While I know that the role of an internship coordinator is to guide and teach the students who come to work with you, I don’t think I have the time or inclination to draw this young lady out of her shell.
I thought it might be best to talk to her to get a sense of her interests and to see if it might be a fit for us to work together. I mentioned that to her dad and he said OK, but I could tell that he was a little taken aback that I didn’t just say yes. How can I manage my friend's expectations? I don’t want to disappoint him, but I also need to make sure I don’t agree to do more than I have time to manage. -- Internship
DEAR INTERNSHIP: Treat this potential internship like a job -- because it is. Talk to the young lady and determine if she's a good enough fit for it to be worth your while. If so, invite her to join you for a specified period of time. If it really doesn’t seem like it will work, talk to her about that directly. See if you can refer her to someone in your network who might be a better fit. Then speak directly to her dad and let him know that you passed, but you attempted to find her an internship for the summer.
If your friend seems upset with you because you didn’t take her, explain that the relationship has to be beneficial to both parties in order to work. You did not think her working with your company was a match, but out of respect for him, you did try to find her an appropriate placement.