Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employer Wants to Make Sure Interns Learn

DEAR HARRIETTE: I own a small business, and I have been fortunate to receive help from different universities whose students work for me for a few hours a week in exchange for school credit toward their degrees. The program is wonderful; I am appreciative because I’m still trying to get on my feet, and I’m not making much money.

For the New Year, I have been offered three different people who want to work with me. I think that’s too many people for me to manage. As nice as the offer is, I know that my responsibility is to teach each student, not just give them busywork. I feel bad, though. I know these young people selected me to work with. What can I do? -- Luxury of Riches, Norfolk, Virginia

DEAR LUXURY OF RICHES: You have to be practical. Internships work when both the supervisor and the intern have the time and focus to work together. Otherwise, you both are bound to be disappointed. With that in mind, evaluate which of the interns is best suited to work with you. Can you comfortably take two, or should you have only one? Sometimes having two people can be effective, as they can work together on projects. Select the best candidate(s), and let the other(s) know that you cannot welcome them to your business at this time. If you think the candidate(s) that you were unable to accept could be good at another time, be sure to say that.

Selecting an intern is just like hiring an employee. You need to pick carefully. Otherwise, it can be too taxing on you during the intern’s stay.

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Retiring Reader Also Wants to Quit Nonprofit Boards

DEAR HARRIETTE: I serve on several not-for-profit boards and have enjoyed myself immensely as I have helped these organizations do good work. I am now 65 years old and retiring from my job. I think it is time to retire from my boards as well. I don’t have the same kind of energy that I once had, and I think that it would be nice to slow down from so many responsibilities. I have made my thoughts known to the boards, and they all are begging me to stay. Their argument is that I will have so much time on my hands I will be bored. That could be true, but I have other plans. I don’t want to let them down, but I also want some time off. Do you have a recommendation for how I should plan out my imminent retirement? -- Next Steps, Washington, D.C.

DEAR NEXT STEPS: Your boards have a point. Walking away from all your responsibilities could indeed be boring as you have filled your life with so much work for so long. What you may want to do is look critically at each board and consider which you might remain on if you were to choose only one. Consider the amount of work that you would need to do compared to the energy you would feel comfortable giving. Resign from the others, and then see how it goes with the one board. If you still feel that you want to resign, do so. Know that you probably will have to wait to leave any boards until your term is up. Sometimes you also have to wait until you are replaced. Figure that out, too.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Work & School | Miscellaneous