Leave, then watch the learning that happens

Leave, then watch the learning that happens

Proximity can be an aspiration killer.

When I was running my agency, I recall putting a policy in place for interns that they could not immediately be hired on to my staff until they joined another agency. Then they could boomerang if they’d like, but only after experiencing another work environment.

They didn’t understand it. In fact, one of my intern’s parents called and tried to talk me…no, bribe me, into hiring his daughter upon graduation because she loved working in my shop. (But that’s a whole other Oprah Show).

My reason was grounded in experience. When you “grow up” in an environment, chances are that your leaders and colleagues might struggle to see you in larger roles with more responsibility. That isn’t always the case, but it generally is. Unless you have strong sponsorship, it may also take you longer to prove yourself. Most often your true leadership dreams won’t be realized in the same place you cut your teeth. They simply get use to seeing you one way.

The second reason for my policy was a bit more selfish—I wanted my paid interns, who were extremely bright and hungry to gain other experiences to enrich my company upon their return.

So it boiled down to a matter of fostering more respect, credibility and credentials.

This insight isn’t simply for interns. Tenured pros, take note: The truth is, the longer you stay in one place, your true value may get buried in the grind. Do yourself and your company a favor and give it some distance.

Chances are you’ll see your way clearer, learn more and be better for it. It also provides your company the opportunity to see you in a different light and see your value even more clearly.

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