The time has come for “Uber” Intern, aka: Anthony-Ray Reynolds to return to the University of Florida so he can continue his education in public relations and eventually law school. Uber has performed magnificently, demonstrating a genuine willingness to accept the diverse tasks that were assigned to him, and which ranged from direct interaction with clients to making the 2 p.m. daily cappuccino run. And dare I say, we learned from Uber…I even learned to appreciate Wikipedia! Uber and I had an interesting conversation this week about internships, a chat inspired by an opinion piece that ran last weekend in the Orlando Sentinel and which was scribed by a young woman defending paid internships. In her column, she successfully argued in support of paid internships and against businesses that require “experience” as an prerequisite. That was news to me.
But that’s not what struck me about the column. In her objective to the experience requirement, the young writer – apparently a public relations student – clearly identified an organization with such a requirement. As Uber and I chatted, I proffered that even in light of the amazing technological advances that enable worldwide communications, some old-fashioned standards remain effective – if you can’t say something nice about someone, say nothing at all.
This young woman’s perspective and arguments were sound and well-defended. However, she seeks a career in knowing the right thing to say and when. In this case, unnecessarily placing someone in a negative light with no beneficial outcome for doing so, demonstrates a lapse in judgment and certainly a misunderstanding about the role of a PR practitioner.
She had a legitimate argument and her frustrations of being held back from an internship because she lacked internship experience are completely understandable. Outing someone well-known for no apparent reason other than to be hostile, is not.
Uber gets it. He’s proven that classroom teaching qualifies as “experience.” Hopefully, Uber also learned from the streetwise side of public relations while he was here. But what he seemed to already know when he arrived, and what is key to a being a successful PR professional: sometimes the less said, the better.
Farewell Uber Intern!