Thoughts of Spring in New England

And a Brief Defense of Nepotism

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Phil Johnson Phil Johnson
This is a bad day for my agency. The temperature went from the mid-50s this morning to 70 at noon. Overnight, buds appeared on all the trees. Miraculously, Cambridge transformed itself from something that looks like a gulag to a beautiful city on the Charles River. It's a bad day because I'm staring out the window wondering how long before I go downstairs for a supposedly no-fat yogurt. I know if I go outside I'll walk up the street to the bookstore, and then I may sit at Café Pamplona and drink an ice coffee. This is not good.

About two hours ago, I saw half a dozen people from the creative group slink out the door. I know they were going to Daedalus, the bar around the corner, and that they will sit on that wonderful deck and drink a few pints. My phone is not ringing either. The people still in the office look very focused, but I can tell they're heading for the river the first chance they get. I don't need to wait for the financial reports. Productivity just plummeted.

Make no mistake. It's springtime in New England. Among other things, that means that the Red Sox are going to crush the Yankees, and that PJA Advertising is going to bring on some summer interns.

After much trial and error, we've sharpened our philosophy on low-paid summer employees. It's called unabashed nepotism. We've tried more egalitarian approaches, but this one seems to work best. If you're the son or daughter of someone who works here, of a client, of a vendor, of a friend, we'll give you a job, for no good reason. I don't even remember how this all came about. At its best, it's organized chaos. Starting in June a handful of college kids show up, and although someone is supposed to manage them, I can't remember whom. At first they stumble around, looking hopeful that somebody will provide some structure and guidance. They light up when someone sends them off on an errand, or better yet asks for some research.

Our more industrious staff quickly spot cheap labor and take an intern under wing. Within two to three weeks, we're dependent on kids that just finished their freshman year. They're curious, excited, and hungry to learn. Quite often their work habits put the rest of us to shame. I get to enjoy a couple of other side benefits as well. My iTunes library definitely expands. I've gotten excellent tutorials on Twitter and other social media. And I confess to sending them out on a few personal errands.

Before you know it August rolls around, and our interns leave to enjoy the last weeks of summer. We usually make a standing offer that they can return to work over the holidays, and a couple of people have done just that. Then it's back to work, and somehow just a little less fun. But at least we have the World Series to look forward to, and boy is our Controller happy.
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