Don’t Have Your Interns Make Coffee or Copies

The Expert Are United

There was a time when it was OK to ask interns to make you coffee. That year was probably 1950.

The employers we interviewed were unanimous: Interns should not be making coffee or copies.

But some still view interns as free or inexpensive labor. Others view interns as new members of the team capable of making valuable contributions and they also believe that they have an obligation to the intern. And still others have ideas that fall somewhere in the middle.

Some Northeast Ohio employers who talked to NOCHE staffers stressed the dangers of having interns do menial tasks like making coffee or copies. Some said they see no problem with asking interns to help with clerical tasks from time to time, but all said that the experience must be more substantive.

The danger of having interns do only menial work is that they will:

  1. Not learn much;
  2. Leave with a negative impression of your organization;
  3. Be turned off to your industry.

Let’s check in with some of the experts.


Jennifer Dalrymple, talent acquisition supervisor for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, transformed that organization’s internship program and has strong feelings about the importance of offering students a substantive experience, treating them as professionals and paying them for their work.

“They are not grabbing coffee for their managers, they are doing real work. – Dalrymple

Transcription of Dalrymple Interview    —     Read More About Jennifer Dalrymple Here


Brandy Scheule has had rewarding internship experiences during her years as a marketing student at Kent State University. She’s grateful that she has not had the internships that some her classmates have had to endure.

“I feel very prepared for a job after graduation” – Scheule

Transcription of Scheule Interview    —    Read More About Brandy Scheule Here



Jessica Shook had what she called a “not so positive” experience when she was an intern and that’s what has motivated her to make sure that all interns who come to work with her at DwellWorks have a positive experience.

“I think our interns are really fortunate just because maybe it’s not a name that people have heard of before, but they walk away with really awesome experiences”– Shook

Transcription of Shook Interview    —    Read More About Jessica Shook Here


Assigning Job Tasks:

  1. Provide full job description
  2. Ensure that interns are prepared for full-time jobs when the internship is complete
  3. Have “Backup” tasks prepared and ready
  4. Ensure that you are creating a valuable experience for the interns

Benefits for Interns for Providing Meaningful Work:

  1. Experience true characteristics of the industry/career
  2. Build professional connections
  3. Build intern resume
  4. Acquire real work experience

Click here for help with writing an intern job description

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