So, that guy who sits three desks down from you at your internship is so cute. And smart. And hilarious. You find yourself slowly turning into the Skintern (tsk, tsk) to catch his attention. He sends you cute lunch date e-mail requests and jokes to you under his breath about all the characters you have to deal with in the office. He’s the Jim to your Pam.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time or place to jump into an office romance. While they can be exciting and a great way to make your day at your internship happier, intern romances or even just hook-ups can also cause a lot of trouble, and may not be the best place to find your summer love. So if you find yourself flirting with that cutie from the marketing department, read this before you go playing footsies under the conference room table.
Consider the office dynamic
A huge factor to keep in mind when entering into a work fling is the dynamic at the workplace. Whether you’re an intern at a small start-up with fewer than 50 employees or an intern at a large corporation with branches all over the country, an office romance can still be pretty iffy to get away with.
If you’re interning at a small company, it can be harder to both keep your fling a secret and avoid any awkward repercussions should anything go wrong with it.
“Office hook-ups are dangerous territory,” says Kathleen Bogle, author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus. “Some people, men in particular, will avoid office hook-ups because they don’t like getting involved with someone who cannot be avoided after the fact.”
Sound familiar? Not something you want to be dealing with (or making the rest of your small office watch you deal with) for the rest of the summer.
If you’re interning at a larger company, you’re also in a sticky position, because although you most likely have less direct supervision, your actions and your work speak will extra loudly. You have fewer chances to impress your bosses and superiors, so you have to make each opportunity to do so really count. Don’t let the only time your boss sees you all week be when you’re flirting with another intern over the water cooler instead of getting your work done—he or she could think you’re taking boys more seriously than your internship.
Consider how it will affect your future
Internships can open many doors for your career in the future, but only if you gain the right experience and foster the right relationships during them. Even if you’re interning in a field or company that you don’t see yourself at 10 years from now, your supervisor is still going to be the person who a future employer would ask about your work ethic and how you conducted yourself at the office. What you may think doesn’t count now might hinder you later on.
“Summer internships give you a few short weeks to prove your intelligence and your work ethic, no matter what kind of work you’re doing,” says Alissa, a collegiette at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you’re hooking up with another intern and can actually manage to keep it a secret, I guess that’s okay, but there’s always a chance that your bosses or superiors will find out and that will render you less professional in their eyes. They’ll think that you couldn’t even focus on the internship for such a short period of time without being distracted by boys.”
Consider if he’s really worth it
But what if you’re really, really into that fellow intern? Feelings are feelings, and there’s no way to control whether or not those feelings seep into your internship.
“The workplace is an obvious place for sexual and romantic interest to strike up, but these situations are not so easy to manage,” Bogle says.
If you absolutely can’t resist getting to know him better, try to seek out opportunities to hang out outside of your internship. This will not only help keep the potential fling under wraps, but it will also give you the chance to decide if he’s actually interesting and funny, or if he’s just some much-needed comic relief in a boring office. Assess whether or not he’s worth the risk of the problems that could result after a breakup.
“Since most hook-ups, or dates for that matter, don’t lead to walking off into the sunset, then you have to consider how you will handle working with someone when it’s over,” says Bogle. “As much as we would like relationships to end on good terms, often one person wants to end it and hurts the other, and that is not something you want to deal with every day at work.
“I am not saying that office romances should always be avoided; many people meet someone they really care about, possibly even their future spouse, at work,” says Bogle. “But, you do have to be careful not to get in over your head unless the potential relationship is work the potential risks.”
So where does this leave us? Are we forbidden from internship hook-ups and romances, or is there some wiggle room? While it really does depend on the situation, collegiettes definitely need to keep their wits about them during their summer internship and consider all of the benefits and consequences before engaging in an internship fling.
Collegiettes, what’s your stance on internship hook-ups and romances? Have you or would you ever have one? Let us know in the comments below!