DEAR HARRIETTE: A young lady has been interning with me for a month or so. She has been consistent in some areas and flaky in others. My job is to teach her how to be professional and what she can learn about my industry. She is a college student, and now that her classes are all remote, she is freaking out. She has missed all of the deadlines I have given her for projects. I just heard from her that she feels overwhelmed because her schedule has changed so much. Her tone was worrisome. On one hand, I am annoyed that she has dropped the ball on things she agreed to do. On the other hand, I feel like I need to check in on her mental health. But since we cannot be together, I’m not sure what to do. -- Helping the Intern
DEAR HELPING THE INTERN: Start by sending her a note acknowledging what she has told you she is feeling. Forgive her for not meeting your deadline, and ask her to schedule a time when you can talk “face to face.” Use FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or some other form of technology to have a video conference. In as calm and welcoming a tone as possible, invite her to tell you what’s going on in her life. Ask how her classes are going and if she has good relationships with her professors. Ask her what she needs in order to feel better. Sometimes just having someone to talk to can be helpful. Learn about her support system. Does she talk to her parents or close friends?
Finally, give her a break with your responsibilities. Especially since she isn’t doing the work anyway, take the burden off her shoulders. Let her know she can come back to work after things settle down. If you have her parents’ information, reach out to them to express your concern about their daughter’s well-being.