I Don’t Need or Want an Intern

Today has been a ride on the fail train. Usually, I’m very supportive and nurturing when it comes to inexperienced colleagues. I firmly believe in the expression “a rising tide floats all boats,” and normally I’m very patient with people who have little or no experience with tools I use in the course of business. Today, though, my tolerance level is lower than usual.

I’m a key member of a startup based in Tampa. We’re beginning a sales effort next week, and as part of that effort, we are expanding our blog to include some more content about why our methodology brings value to your business. We hired a few writers to contribute to our blog, and this week, they’re starting to add content. As a startup, we absolutely need them to be able to work without any hand-holding or supervision. So far, though, that has not been what we’ve seen, so much so that I had to write a somewhat harsh email explaining what we need them to do. Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t mean any offense by this, but you absolutely need to understand that a blog is not a post, but a collection of posts. If you don’t get that, we will not be able to continue working together. Frankly, I’m concerned that I have to say that at all. Blogs are everywhere in social media and 21st century culture, and if you’re not familiar with what a “blog” is, you’re way behind the curve. We do not have time or resources to train you on the basics of popular culture. So, in short, sink or swim. If that makes you uncomfortable, please tell me now, so we can find someone else.

I’m somewhat amazed that in 2011 anyone who uses a computer more than once a month doesn’t know what a blog is. I’m especially amazed that there are any writers in the world who fit into this category. This is how a substantial percentage of writers earn a living. I can see someone not knowing a specific software platform, such as WordPress or Confluence, and needing a quick tutorial on how to use the specific app, but not understanding what a blog is at its core is almost shocking.

So, when I encounter writers who not only need help using WordPress, but also need help grasping the basics of social media and its role in 21st century culture, I think to myself,

“I might expect this of an unpaid intern, but a paid professional writer should know better.”

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