18 October 2009

Interns and HR

Javva The Hutt July 2009 - Java The Hutt
I had an intern last week. No, not for my lunch, actually doing stuff for me. The company decided to fork out all of a whole unused seat and workstation, an actual security pass, and an actual system account for this intern to do a week of work experience. No pay for the poor blighter, not even expenses to cover transport costs. It was just one week, I was amazed that he actually got onto the system, whenever I've seen new employees come in, it's usually taken the best part of a week just to get them setup. But our one-week intern was properly on the system on day one. Email and internet access and all he needed! I think we have a rogue monkey.

A rogue monkey? Well, in every big organisation I've ever been in, it takes a week to get people setup. It shouldn't, realistically after the company sets up a few employees, someone should say, 'golly, these are all the things you need to do to setup a new employee, and look 99% of it can be automated, so here, I've done that, now you just need these half a dozen pieces of information entered on this screen, and press the button and presto, it's all done'. But that's not company policy, so anyone that does that gets beaten up by the other monkeys. I am, of course, referring to the parable of the eight monkeys (if you've not heard of it, web search 'the eight monkeys', it's worth reading).

So I can only assume that given our intern was up and running on day one, nay not even day one, but actually immediately after Monday morning induction, that somehow a rogue monkey has slipped in and got the bananas. Congratulations unknown rogue monkey, I am sorry to say that your career here is likely to be short. And will involve being beaten up by the other monkeys when they find you got the bananas. That's life.

Anyway, knowing that I had the use of an untrained newbie for a week, I thought to myself 'what on earth can I give him to do to keep him out of my hair and busy'. After all, interns rarely provide anything useful even when they do the three month internship, what could he do in a week? So I looked through the very bottom of my retired to-do lists, you know, the ones you've given up even bothering to list since you are only going to get to them on your fifth life. And I gave him those to do. Comparative analysis of performance products, resolutions to simple issues that need no knowledge, just a bit of time spent on the internet, that sort of thing. And just in case he was fast (you never know), I gave him enough for two weeks worth of work.

By the end of Wednesday he had finished the lot. And quality work too. He found out stuff that would make us more efficient, that would improve the quality of our work. I wanted to hire him, but HR did their HR job of saying no, we can't have efficiency. Maybe I should just start my own company. At least now I know who'd be employee number 2.