You just never know how it will work out. Sometimes you get a happy surprise.

I have had mixed experiences with interns. I have hosted a few that turned out to be great experiences for everyone and we’ve stayed in touch for years. Others have been less successful; work didn’t get done and no one learned much. But sometimes the returns are just slow. Like this week.

A couple of years ago I had a young woman who wanted an internship. I told her it wasn’t the right time but I’d help her find something else. She insisted. And I gave in. She was talented. At first it went well but then she had a ton of family issues overwhelm her. And deadlines were missed and things didn’t get finished. She was a foreign student who needed the experience and the role to stay in school and in the US so I gave her extensions and filled out her paperwork as if all had gone well. Then she disappeared. For a while. I moved on.

Then about two weeks ago, out of the blue I got an email from her. She reached out to tell me where she was, apologize and invited me to an event to meet her game-changing boss and their leadership council. I was delighted. It validated my perception of her capacity. I was excited to see her successfully pursuing the goals that had brought her to me.  And, I said yes because I still support her goals and because it was an amazing opportunity for me to connect with a group of leaders I have wanted to know.  

The tips from this experience are pretty simple.

Tip 1. Trust your gut when you chose to work with people. Even if it’s not immediately apparent why.

Tip 2. Treat people well even when things are less than perfect.

Tip 3. Hold the door open to better happening later.