Bosses reveal interns’ qualities and drawbacks



Meryl Streep is a tough-as-nails boss in The Devil Wears Prada. But can you always blame the boss, or should some interns take some blame?


The boss was a bitch, but after dealing with interns all day, who can blame her?


With the movie release of The Devil Wears Prada — based on the almost-true book by Lauren Weisberger about a recent graduate slaving under the whims of her boss at a New York fashion magazine — employees are sharing arch glares and snickers over the shoes of female bosses across the globe.

But is that fair? As reminiscences of nightmare bosses past are exchanged over post-theatre coffee conversations, few twentysomethings fresh out of their first internships will admit that in the book, Weisberger was whiny.

With the audacity it takes to turn a 10-month stint at Vogue into a book complaining about her own observed inadequacy in the maw of a ruthless fashion industry, Weisberger unintentionally revealed the ugly face of the recent graduate.

What about that ruthless fashion industry? Is it really that bad or are the interns just overly prone to complaining?

Adrienne Shoom, an editor who’s worked for Flare and Weekly Scoop and who is now a freelance stylist, says that the majority of interns are as eager and well-mannered as one could hope for. Overall, the interns she’s worked with have turned out to be “all positive experiences. There were only one or two who stepped over the line.”

Sarah Casselman, assistant fashion editor for Fashion magazine agrees. The only interns who have trouble are those who don’t realize they’re going to be spending their summer in the shipping room.

“Shipping and receiving is the unglamorous side of our business. But that’s what creates the ebb and flow of merchandise on our pages,” she says. “Our interns definitely can’t be high maintenance.”

Bosses in fields other than fashion voice similar complaints. “We don’t have high expectations for our articling students,” says Patrick Rocca, administrator for the Pace Law Firm in Toronto.

He means that kindly.

“We don’t give them an opportunity to screw up badly enough to cause problems.”

The world of articling is the less glamorous side of the law: serving notices and helping senior lawyers with research.

The most common shortcomings, according to Rocca, are poor writing skills a lack of depth in the research and “more of a sense of entitlement.”

It’s an unflattering attitude.

“Sometimes, at first it seems like they’re really excited,” says Candice de Souza of first-time employees. She helps new workers and recent graduates as an information and referral service worker at Job Connect, a career counselling centre northwest of the Centennial College campus.

“Then something goes wrong and they get disappointed really easily. The initial enthusiasm just dies and they end up quitting.”

De Souza says that new workers often lack the communication skills to deal with problems as they arise on the job.

“Instead of communicating clearly, they’ll just avoid doing it or just quit,” she says.