Creating Exceptional Internship Experiences with Rob Khoury
June 27, 2023
Creating Exceptional Internship Experiences with Rob Khoury

Internships play a crucial role in shaping the careers of young professionals, providing them with valuable industry experience and insights. In this podcast episode, Rob Khoury shares his journey of discovering how to create the best environment possible for interns. Inspired by an incredible intern who taught him the importance of meeting interns’ needs, Rob offers valuable insights for employers on optimizing the internship experience.

Creating exceptional internship experiences requires intention, ongoing communication, and a commitment to the growth and development of interns. By following the principles of exceptional internships, employers can provide valuable learning opportunities, foster meaningful connections, and make a lasting impact on the next generation of professionals.

Whether you’re an organization wanting to create the best internship experience, an intern wanting to benefit from an internship or an educator helping students find internships, this episode will provide invaluable insights.

About Rob Khoury:

Robert J. Khoury is co-founder and CEO of Agile Rainmakers, a high-impact business development consulting and advisory firm based in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Previously, he had a 20+ year career in the financial industry that had him in many leadership roles.

Rob earned a BSE in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University and his MBA in Finance and International Business from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. He led personal and professional development seminars for Landmark Worldwide for several years.

Rob is co-author of How To Intern Successfully: Insights & Actions to Optimize Your Experience.

Jump in the Conversation:

[1:38] – Where Rob’s story of transformation began
[3:09] – What is Agile Rainmakers
[4:35] – How employers can attract interns that are the best fit for
[6:25] – An investment in the intern is an investment in the intern
[7:49] – Have interns check in with their friends and bring their feedback back to you
[13:21] – Help potential interns get really clear so they know what they’re looking for
[17:33] – Network to get to know people, not to find an opportunity
[18:16] – What kind of mentoring employers should provide
[21:39] – 9 principles of exceptional internships – THE BRIDGE
[29:53] – We need more organizations to mentor
[32:20] – Turbo Time
[33:49] – What people need to know about creating meaningful internships
[36:20] – Rob’s Magic Wand
[38:42] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:22
I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of Education Evolution, MicroSchool Coalition, and cofounder of EdActive. I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Hi, Rob, it is so good to have you on education evolution today.

Rob Khoury 1:11
Thank you so much, Maureen, it’s a pleasure.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:13
And listeners. today I’m chatting with Rob Khoury, who’s founder co founder and CEO of agile rainmakers, a high impact business development consulting and advisory firm based in Chicago, he’s held many roles in the financial industry, and has led personal and professional development seminars for landmark worldwide for yours. Let’s dive in Robert, our schools have to evolve and our experiences that we give learners have to evolve to serve all of our learners. Where did this story of transformation and real world learning begin for you?

Rob Khoury 1:49
It began about four years ago when I hired an extraordinary intern gentleman who was a sophomore in college. And he came in and he did some outstanding work and kept wanting more. And I noticed it in his feedback at the end of the summer, that there were some things I could have done even better. To help him learn more. Just as a quick example, he said that the projects I gave him sometimes had natural downtime, or, you know, we’re waiting for feedback from a client or something. He said he would have liked to have even more projects so he could go to another one. And so I realized, these students today are multitaskers. And it’s more effective for them to have many things to work on at the same time, rather than one at a time. And so I started to like, dig into you know, how to optimize the experience for the students and for the work that needs to get done and for the clients. And it’s been extraordinary run.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 2:54
Wow, I love that, that you tuned into the feedback and use that for continuous improvement. That’s ideally what we do as learners. And as educators, what is agile rainmakers tell us about your business?

Rob Khoury 3:09
It’s a high impact, Business Development Advisory and consulting firm. So I have a handful of clients that I advise in different industries, whether it’s crypto cold chain storage, it could be online retail. And the point of what we do is to assist the clients in growing as quickly as they can and to manage that growth as responsibly, and as maturely as possible. And our clients are high growth, I love every one of them. And they’re all very different. But you can have a women own timber company as a client, you know, so they’re all unique in their own way, different industries, and we just provide advice on how to make sure they grow as effectively as they’d like to. And then along the way, what we also do is we hire interns during the summer for our internship program. And there we find new clients just for summer projects that those interns work on. And so we kind of double up on the number of clients we have during summer to give the intern some very interesting one.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:23
I like that that you go above and beyond make sure internships have a true experience. I want to focus on the employer perspective. Internships are hard to come by especially paid internships. How can employers attract interns who fit best so they have a great experience?

Rob Khoury 4:44
You’re right about the paid internships being reared. 40% of internships currently are unpaid. And that’s something that’s decreasing over time. And I’d love to see that go to zero is the study Wouldn’t generally don’t have a lot of money, and they’re needing to pay for transportation and meals and all of that while he in turn. So that’s, that’s one thing, that’s, I think, very important that companies need to look at making sure they compensate. If you’re a company, the best thing you can do is to put yourself in those students shoes, and stop thinking about yourself as much. And if think about if you’re a student, what would you want out of your internship. And so some of the things might be, you know, you give them an offer, let’s say in January, how long you’re gonna have a call every six to eight weeks, between offer date, and when they start June. And what are they it’ll do is it’ll reduce their anxiety, it’ll increase their relationship with the manager, or whoever, and the company will be responsible for that. And it’ll also give them some clarity on the project work they’re doing. And on the industry itself, there’s a lot more comfort, I do that with my interns. And it’s an investment literally of 60 to 90 minutes, over the course of four months. And when they come on the first day, in June, they hit the ground running because they know who I am, what we’re doing, what the projects look like. And there’s an immediate sense of trust. So it’d be the first thing I would do,

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:23
I’m going to stop you there, just because I think that is, is so important to lowering anxiety, but you’re also making an investment, that directly would would benefit the employer. Because if I’m an intern and you’re explaining what the job is, then maybe I’ll talk to my professors, maybe I’ll do a project for one of my classes on, I will want to get up to speed. So the more information you give me, the more I can come in and hit the ground running. And also these conversations will give you a chance to get to know me, and hey, I really love coding, if that ever comes up, or whatnot. So it seems like it’s mutually that 60 to 90 minutes over four months is a total win win.

Rob Khoury 7:00
Absolutely, it doesn’t take much. But you just have to be intentional, you have to be on time, you have to really mean it and do it. And it’s an investment that really pays off well, because we don’t spend like a week getting to know each other in the internship, we’ve already done that there. And you know, you get to see them, you know, how’s how’s your sport activity going? Or how’s your after school? Or how’s your classes? What’s your favorite class? How was your spring break? You know, just get to know them a little bit. I mean, that’s, that’s basic stuff. But it goes so long, such a long way. And that’s why I think first, you know, put yourself in their shoes. And the best way to do this to actually get to know them and be interested in them. Absolutely. Maureen. And a simple thing. But it’s incredible the difference it makes.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:47
And then what else could employers do?

Rob Khoury 7:49
Well, I think the other thing too, is, and a lot of times when I have interns, I asked them after a couple of weeks, ask your friends about their internships and let me know how it’s going. And they come back with, you know, even with big name companies, they’re not prepared. They don’t have projects ready for them. They have them stay late, or they call them at night, or they work weekends. These are interns a hand too I think all of that is a function of a lack of preparation for your company, spend the time not only knowing what the projects are, who’s going to be the mentor, you know, what? What are the simple rules around the internship, you know, have a timeline? You know, I want to schedule a feedback, is it going to be based on milestones? Is it going to be periodic? Is it going to be formal and formal, have a plan in place, make sure when they show up, they have access to data, just about everything these days turns into a data project. So it’s crazy. Like I mentioned, all those various clients, it’s amazing how many times it ends up being a data project. Well make sure they have access to that data, make sure they have clear instructions on, you know, what it is they’ll be doing. And I think most importantly, that how it fits into everything that’s going on, you know, if I give you a spreadsheet, and I say, hey, you know, do some calculations, and you know, you know, write a little Visual Basic or whatever. And all that’s all you know, to do in a vacuum. That’s going to be a miserable experience. But if I say look, here’s the big project, here’s what’s happening. And here’s where your piece is going to make a difference for the client or the bigger picture. Now they get very interested and extra motivated. And all that is Maureen is just a function of planning ahead, thinking it through.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 9:44
I like that i It seems to me that that’s the dignity issue that every human has the right if they’re showing up and giving their time to know what they’re doing and to understand the expectations and how it’s evaluated. So to not be prepared. or is treating somebody with a lack of dignity.

Rob Khoury 10:04
I like the fact to use the word dignity because what we’re doing here and I wrote a book called How to intern successfully. And it’s really all about having the student have the opportunity to come from dignity and self respect, know where they’re at. You know, students, like we said, they have a lot of anxiety part of it is, when they’re in an internship, they think they need to be perfect. And if the client or the host company or institution wanted perfect, they’d hire someone who’s been doing that same job for 10 years. But the student doesn’t realize that they think I’ve got to be perfect. And, you know, the book is intended to reduce anxiety. There’s lots of exercises, breathing exercises, meditative exercises, getting in touch with who you are, what you’re interested in, what works for you, what doesn’t work for you. But the whole point is, you get comfortable in your own skin, as a 19 year old, 20 year old, 21 year old, you know, whatever it is, and with that, being comfortable in your own skin, and having some confidence will lead to a far better internship for you than being nervous and anxious and thinking you got to be perfect and can’t make a mistake. And all of that stressful experience. That’s, that’s really not not really needed. So there’s no dignity in that no student interning in a totally stressed out manner. So that’s, we’re going to work on that in how to intern successfully. And then it’s part of a book series. Second book is intern management that’ll be coming out soon. And that one’s about putting in dignity with the, with the hiring company. There’s no dignity and not getting back to students with a yes or a no, there’s no dignity and having the internship actually be a long interview. And not nothing much more and there’s no dignity and having to be about, you know, go get my dry cleaning, and, you know, fill out my externship board or, or, you know, here’s some files to organize, when really they they’re here to learn about the industry versus doing the work you don’t want to do. So the I’m out to bring dignity to the internship in this course, it’s missing. I’m glad you touched on it. It’s it’s super important to everyone.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 12:26
I agree. And you’re touching on things that your books are very needed. And I also think that it would help the employers probably to look at the how to intern successfully, book and help guide I think our young adults aren’t clear on their passion, their purpose, their life goals, and all of that, that icky guy that gets thrown out there. That’s really important. And so part of mentoring, I think, is coaching and understanding and helping mirror back. Wow, you’re really good at that. Have you ever thought of this? Or, huh? Because you don’t like that you probably just to use the mentor to use their life experience to help unpack that life goal and that direction. How do you help young adults? i It sounds like you’ve good exercises in the books? How do you help potential interns really get clear so that you know what they’re looking for. And so they know what they’re looking for.

Rob Khoury 13:30
The first thing is to acknowledge it’s a process. You know, I’m in my 50s. And I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. Every time a little funny, but, you know, every five years or so I change what I do. I am able to love what I do whatever whatever I’m doing. But for a lot, a lot of students you know, it’s a process, you’ve got to really look inquire thanks. I highly recommend that the students journal, self reflect, leading up to the internship. If you’re looking for an internship, I always recommend starting with your parents, your parents, friends, people that service your family, you know, whether you whoever it might be the doctor, the plumber, or whoever, but find out what do people do all day and start to get a sense of that could be the financial planner for your family, it could be the insurance person. But what does it mean to be an insurance personnel? What does it mean to be a landscaper? Whatever it is. So this is one of the things is like if you want to discover like what you’re passionate about when you gotta discover what’s out there, right? So I say start with your parents, your parents friends, ask them for warm introductions warm, you know, like informational typing of us, like just want to find out what you do all day. What does it mean to be in real estate the way you are? So I’d start there. And then there’s also the alumni. You know, if you’re in high school, your high school alumni there, they’re out there and you can ask your teachers who they can connect you with. Or parents of the school, who can you get connected to? That is an alum, that’d be interested in talking to you for 1520 minutes and share about what they do on a day to day basis. Maybe they run an auto dealership, I don’t know, maybe they run a, you know, a hedge fund, whatever it might be. But, you know, to get in touch with your passion, you have to be out there learning to buy what other people do, and doing it not in order to get an internship. But instead, in order to learn what people do, you know, being very transparent, I want to learn worrying on alert, what you do you have a great podcast, or a Tell me about that? Why’d you set that up? What do you get out of it? What’s important to you about it? Why are you actually doing it? That’s a that’s a great conversation. Because I know you and I know, we all like to talk about ourselves, we’d love to support the next generation. So this is a natural, easy thing. And then later, you can come back and go, Hey, you know what, I’ve talked to 15 people about what they do. And Maureen, what you do solid, the most interesting to me? How do you recommend I find a way to get an internship in your industry? Or, you know, do what whatever you’re doing, what would you do? If you were me today? I think that’s a far more valuable approach to finding your passion, you know, then I don’t know what a lot of other people suggest. And, and you know, with that you also you want to be doing some reading, you want to do some material journaling, the self reflecting and then really have it be an inquiry that is fulfilling. And now something that’s stressful to you. It’s very easy to get stressed these days about things that you won’t be stressed about in five years at all, you won’t even remember those day hit the point there Maureen.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 16:43
Yeah, absolutely. And I like the idea of a lot of informational interviews. And also networking, the DeBruce Foundation does a lot of stuff with you youth workforce. And they did a big report that came out last November. And networking is like a super important skill that our youth need that we all need, that really impacts employment. And yet we don’t unpack that. So when you’re saying, hey, talk to friends, to talk to your families, friends, talk to people that provide service, talk to alum, you’re helping them understand that we have to get out there and ask a lot of people we and then that network loop back around. So the idea of networking, to me is something that needs to be explicit as we’re helping mentor youth.

Rob Khoury 17:29
Yes, and I’m in there’s a part in the book where I talk about organic networking. And the idea here is good networking to get to know other people, not transactionally to just find an internship. But we just like learning and building that relationship first, and going from there. Versus Oh, you don’t have an internship? Well, you’re never going to talk to me again, we’re never going to see me again. And we don’t want to go that way. We want to build a relationship, I call that organic networking to people getting to know each other. And at some point, maybe something happens, where there’s an opportunity to move forward with each other on an internship or whoever, whatever it might be. So that’s, that’s the way I like to look at it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 18:12
So if that mentoring is helping get a college student into the place where they get in an internship, what kinds of mentoring should employers be expecting to provide during the internship process?

Rob Khoury 18:29
The mentoring they should provide is basically learning about where they’re at. And thinking about what additional skill or you know, what’s the word? I’m gonna say attribute but what you know, where can they push things just a little further along from where they are, the key and mentoring is, finding where they’re at. And then helping them go just a little bit further along. And it helps when you’re mentoring, to have a plan. Have a like, here’s where the feedbacks gonna happen every week. Here are the things we want you to read and learn. We’re gonna check in as questions. How’s that going? We want you to ask questions. One of the things I do is, you know, with my interns every Tuesday morning, they get 20 minutes with me one on one. And I go, you know, I have the same five questions. I asked them every week, so they kind of get into a cadence routine. You know, students say they’re used to routines and cadences and rhythms. So as the same type of questions, and then after that, we open it up, okay, what do you want to ask me? What do you need? How can I help you? And the questions are very basic that I asked, it’s, you know, how’s your week, you know, what’s supporting you? Is there anything more I could do to support you? You know, they just want to be heard. And they, you know, they just want to, you know, have the support, they need to do the best they can. So I think that’s key and mentoring. And then I also think that you know, the another very important thing is how the internship ends A lot of times, you know, the internship ends, but it’s really not over. Like, you know, on July 31, the internship ends, but a week later, you’re calling them because you need to find something or you don’t have a password, but you know, that that’s gonna stop, it’s got to be, you know, when it ends, it’s over, it’s done, internship is complete, that’s it, right. And to do that, you want to make sure that, you know, you start wrapping up the internship, you know, like, from two weeks in advance, you know, or landing a plane, here, we’re not just going to stop abruptly. So very, you know, make sure you have a process for how you wrap things up, you know, it’s, you know, kind of exit interview type stuff, surveys at the end, project completion, you know, aim to have the project or worked on two or three days before. And that way, if there’s an issue or something that needs to be handled, you have, you have some time, it can’t be, you know, it’s the 31st of July, let’s say, and it’s 5pm. And, you know, there’s no more time and it’s exactly what we wanted, the onus is on the mentor to be on, you know, on point with where they’re at helping them move along, making sure they get their work done, the way it’s intended the way the organization wants it done. There should be no surprises at the end. And that, to me would be good mentorship, because it’s guidance all the way through to the end.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:25
I like that start to finish and kind of reverse engineering. What what do we need by the end? So how do we work backwards to make sure that we have that and the plane is landed? It’s done?

Rob Khoury 21:37

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 21:38
So Rob, you design exceptional internships, and you’ve just given a lot of components. So are those the main pieces you would say? Make your internships exceptional? Or is there anything else that needs to be factored in?

Rob Khoury 21:53
Well, in the second book, or intern management, I break it down. And the nine principles are transparency, harmony, empathy, buoyancy, respect, intentionality, discovery, generosity, and empowerment. And what I say is, if you keep your eye on those nine things, as you design the internship, and manage the intern and mentor the intern throughout the internship, you’ll have an exceptional art. So to make it easy, those letters, I know what I just shared that they spelled leverage. Okay, so, you know, it’s makes it easy to remember and easy to focus on. But you want to design it from a space of dignity. If that were me, what would I want? Or, like, so one of the things like, the way I’ve designed the internship is, I remember when I was an intern, back in the 1980s. And know, right, around three o’clock, I would utterly crash. Okay, I had no energy. And I looked at that, and I’m like, what is that. And the thing is, is that if you’re a student, you’re not used to an eight hour day share, you know, you’re used to lots of breaks in between, you know, your, your class, and you walk around campus or whatever, you might have a period, often between. And but, you know, by three o’clock, I’m exhausted. So I thought about that, what can I do in designing the internship, and so what we do is at three o’clock, we actually have a meeting. And we call it our end of day meeting, the end of day meeting, three, we talk about, oh, you’re done so far today. And it’s about you know, 2030 minute meeting. And at the end of it, we go, okay, we’ve got an hour and a half, till the end of the day, let’s so we’re gonna do a spread, what could we get done in the last hour and a half. And just interrupting the day there at three. And you know, having a new game to play by five o’clock, it’s energizing, and folks get a lot more done that way. But in the on the other thing to around thinking about it with dignity. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no dignity in having them work at night, we can skip calls and all that. So we have simple rules. And one of those simple rules is we start at 9am, we end a 5pm You’re not allowed to work before 9am Or after 5pm. You’re not allowed to work during weekends. And so what that means is during the day, you really have to be intentional. We can’t be sitting around texting, watching YouTube videos or whatever, because you can’t do the work after five. So it’s got to get done. So the intentionality goes way up. There’s a heck of a lot more focus. And, you know, it’s just and it’s all transparent. So, like, this is this is it this is how we word the soup we’re doing. And Maureen II would be amazed at how they respond. I mean, they they’re clear and I want them as college students in the summer to enjoy their summer so you know you go home Night, you’re young, you’re doing whatever at night, good, good for you, you’re, you know, you’re 20 years old. But when you’re at work, we’re working as a team, we’re working hard, we’re getting things done. You’re being respected. And, and intentional, and, and we’re enjoying it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:16
And I like, Rob, that you’re also helping to imbue work ethic, this is nine to five, you show up and you work, our culture has become so a synchronous, you know, it’s like, hey, yeah, just turn your assignment in by midnight online. So there’s so much flexibility and when and what and I know human nature is to put things off to the last minute. So when you say five o’clock not be no work after that, you’re helping them understand how to work during the work hours, what work ethic looks like, and even the idea of sprint, you’re breaking it down and like, Okay, one last piece, because you know, you’re done at five. So you’re setting them up for success, and hopefully giving them experience in ways that will transfer to any future jobs.

Rob Khoury 26:07
Exactly. I don’t want them to, you know, go off and work. And, you know, they didn’t know I have good habits. So they work super late. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen these people like this in your career, they work super late, they’re never home, they see, you know, they’re divorced, or, you know, there are other areas of their life that aren’t happening, like they’re not seeing the doctor, or, you know, periodically or whatever it is. So, you know, and then we also know that, you know, the folks that say, Oh, I work 12 hours a day, I don’t think that last hour of work is actually as productive as you might think it is. So why not be really intentional and focused, and get the work done from nine to five and train yourself early on, when you’re a student in college like this is actually possible, I can get great work done. If I just focus, I turn off the distractions, these kids stay are credibly distracted. And okay, that’s fine, don’t be distracted, that’s okay. Which still did have to figure out how to get it done between nine and five. So we can have to figure out a way to minimize those distractions now. So you can get the real work done that you need to, to move on. And then the years so right warming, you know, I like to have a program that is teaching them way more than just the obvious that you you see in an internship, you know, we’re, you know, we’re meeting every day. And in fact, maybe twice a day, we have a morning meeting, and the end the day meeting. And then we have the once a week meeting one on one, like, so, there’s a lot that that hosting companies can do to make sure that an internship has as much value for everyone as possible, I get a ton of value right now, you know, I know the interns are going to be starting within weeks. And believe me, I like working as hard as I can to get all the projects curated to be the right level for a college student. You know, if it’s too hard, they’re gonna get frustrated, we don’t want that. If it’s too easy, they’re gonna think, oh, insulting, kind of a joke. No, it’s gotta make sure it’s calibrated. So they’re going to get great experience, they’re going to learn something new. It’s interesting stuff. So again, that’s my work before they show up. And so I’m inviting everyone out there to make sure that they’re doing paid internships, that they’re building a relationship before the intern shows up, that they’re planning and preparing, thinking through the project worked, it’s gonna happen, that it’s more than one project, you know, two, or three or four. Right? And at that way, the student is thriving, moving around to a different style, that we’re giving feedback regularly, that we’re checking in regularly. You know, I, if I don’t check in for a week, I have no, I have no idea what’s gonna, what’s going to happen, where they’re going to go, because they don’t know. And it’s my job to keep them within the guardrails of what we’re trying to accomplish so that in nine weeks, we have great work. And I also want to make sure that as we end the internship, we started it with dignity, we end it with dignity, no, you know, lay all nighters, no stress, no, you know, oh, this is off, you know, in the last week, you got to redo what you did for eight weeks. None of that drama. You don’t need that. A right. We need. Okay, we’ve been watching them the whole time guiding them all time. And, you know, two, three weeks before the internships over let’s start talking about what it’s gonna take to finish everything in a in a very professional manner. Let’s do that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:47
Absolutely. Rob, we want more businesses to mentor our youth need these internships, experiences and they need mentors to help guide them and so that they have a chance to understand more But these careers entail before they go off and do four years of college and or whatever they’re doing, what are a couple of benefits, it might encourage businesses to consider internships, if they haven’t in the past?

Rob Khoury 30:14
you have someone who’s younger, typically, and interested in your industry, you have the opportunity to make an impact, positive impact for them, you have also an opportunity to make a longer term positive impact for you. What do I mean by that? They are very impressionable, this is one of the first jobs they’ll have, they’re gonna watch everything notice. And if you put your, you know, the right foot forward, they’re always going to remember you. And they’re going to remember your organization, and they’re going to think very highly of whether or not they join you, fine, but you know, what, they may end up a vendor, you know, they may end up, you know, interacting in some way, in your industry, because they’re interested in. So I would encourage, you know, firms to host interns, you know, for the impact they can make, for the impact it can have on the organization, not just for hiring immediately, but longer term. And also, I think you have to up your game, when you’re hosting, Enter. And by that, I mean, like, if you have a cluttered mess, you’re gonna clean that up. If you aren’t clear about who’s recording, not who and how a certain project would get done. That’s great. You’re gonna like burn out, Oh, get that stream now. You know, it’s like you’re inviting a guest to your home, or that person shows up, somehow, the rug gets vacuumed. And now and the table gets clean. That’s the sort of thing the way the way to think about it. Why would you host an intern, it’s going to make you a better, better company. And it’s going to make you really think about stuff that you haven’t, and improve in that manner. And you’re going to have someone who potentially could be an advocate for your firm your industry in the future, you don’t know. And you’re going to have the chance to make a difference for that. Oh, I don’t know what you know, that sounds like that’s just a phenomenal opportunity all around.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:14
And when when I agree, Rob, I’d like to pivot toward the end of the interview, and get to know the person behind the project a bit. May I ask you some trouble time questions?

Rob Khoury 32:27

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:28
Awesome. What is the last book you read?

Rob Khoury 32:32
Modern badass tales, from the leadership front pets by rasa Binya. But it’s a very good book.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:41
And who are two inspirational folks you’d love to meet?

Rob Khoury 32:44
I’d like to meet Angela Merkel. I think she’s fascinating, you know, PhD scientists, who, you know, for years, was pretty much nailed the leader of Europe, in a way I mean, running Germany, I think, you know, just great role model in a lot of ways. The other person is somebody who was an athlete that stopped at the top of their game, and has faded in the sunset, you don’t hear much about them. That kind of like that style. And, and that person is Pete Sampras, oh, he retired after I think winning the US Open at a phenomenal career at the top of his game, and then, you know, you don’t hear much about him. He’s living his life, you know, really quietly, beautifully. I got a lot of respect for people that do that. And, you know, I think that’s fantastic.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 33:42
Absolutely. What’s the biggest thing you wish folks knew about meaningful internships?

Rob Khoury 33:49
You have to create a sense of dignity. Like that’s, you know, like, it’s, it’s key to have that identity as part of it. And also, don’t just keep your eye on that. That’s it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:03
Yeah. What is a pet peeve of yours?

Rob Khoury 34:08
Interrupting my feedback. If I’m interviewing somebody, or if they’re interning with me, and I’m giving them feedback, and I get interrupted, I just, I’m like, gosh, you know, we forgot this relationship. And I happen to have at least 30 years of business experience and an MBA, I might know what I’m talking about. But I’m being interrupted. I that. That’s kinda it’s okay, I get it. They’re, you know, they’re young. They don’t know. But that is like, here it is, again.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:40
Yes. What is your favorite thing or fun fact about Chicago?

Rob Khoury 34:45
Favorite thing or fun fact? Well, favorite thing would be definitely living on mission Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes so especially with water are becoming such a important thing. It’s incredible to watch this massive bar They have fresh water every day. So it’s one of my favorite things about Chicago just, you know, the water in, in addition to the people. But if you asked me like, a fun fact about Chicago, I don’t know if most people know this. But I think the brownie was invented in Chicago, back in like 1893. With the World’s Fair or World’s Columbian Exposition, whatever they call it. We’ve got water and a brownie. Yeah. I’ll take it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:29
What is something that most folks don’t know about you?

Rob Khoury 35:33
I spend 20 minutes, four days a week in a sauna. I read a Harvard health study that showed that sign of being an signer was the only predictor for longevity, and of a whole bunch of things. And this was like a multi decade study. And they studied something like 2000 men and I think Norway or I think it was Norway. And the one thing they could find it wasn’t diet, it wasn’t exercising, you know, not this not not sleep, not that just being an Asana, like 20 minutes, four days a week. So I do that. Can I add the kid to anyone I meet in the sauna or however otherwise?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:15
Wow. And I like to wrap up with a magic wand moment. So if I hand you the education, evolution magic wand, what features do you wish were in all internships,

Rob Khoury 36:30
empathy, generosity, power that they give, if we had that built in, then everybody would be, you know, have power, like, they’d be pumped, that third icon pumped to, you know, work with these students in just a few weeks, like, so excited about it, and they’re going to be empowered, I’m going to be empowered. And it is an act of generosity. On my part, I don’t have to do that. I don’t make any money on it. I, you know, I do it, because it makes a difference. I know, I can do it really well, I wish that in, you know, internships were like that, like, Hey, we’re being generous here. And not like anyone else, me anything or anyone else. But just, its generosity. And you got to keep in mind, it’s two way because those students have choices too. So that but that generosity piece would be a key aspect. And then, um, you know, just the apathy. Like, I’ve had students who are really, really bright and talented, and, you know, they make a little mistake or whatever. And they keep saying, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s like, Look, I get where you’re coming from. And you don’t have to say you’re sorry. Just, it’s okay. You know, I get where you’re at. And I think we need adjust with internships, but in general, need a lot more empathy for each other. COVID, I think did a lot for empathy. I mean, I think call them you know, one of the things COVID did was he got people thinking, My gosh, this person has a family, you know, they have health issues themselves, potentially they’ve got, you know, concerns, we should listen to that. And we should work with that. So if you if I were to boil it down, I think I’d want empathy, generosity and empowerment in every internship out there.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:16
Wonderful. Rob, I love what you’re doing. And I’m going to make sure to put your links and we’ll link to your book in the show notes so that more people can study up and make sure that they design exceptional internships. Thank you so much for being our guest today.

Rob Khoury 38:31
Thank you, Maureen. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:42
Wonderful content. When Rob mentioned the attributes of an exceptional internship, I hadn’t heard the acronym clearly. And it is the bridge. What a great acronym as young adults are bridging from their learning world to their professional world. Rob went on and told me afterwards that he has two more books in the series that he’s going to be writing to create wraparound support, with a book on parenting to support interns, and another on mentoring to support interns. We know we want our youth to finish high school or college and be world ready, not just folks who have checked all the boxes to earn a degree or diploma. Internships are such a powerful way to help our young gain experience and understand the workforce. We need businesses providing internships using Rob’s Magic Wand of empathy, generosity, and empowerment. When I think back to how awkward I was as a practicum, and student teacher, it makes me have empathy for that 20 year old me and I know my master teacher, Vicki Swartz was wonderful with empathy and at being generous with her time to help me reflect and learn from each experience. She also did a wonderful job of empowering me and letting me have a lot of rich experiences that enhanced how I stepped out and performed as a young teacher, empathy, generosity, and empowerment. Rob shines out his empathy and generosity by creating awareness around exceptional internships. And in the process, he empowers young people to have a dignified, valuable entry experience into the professional workplace. Thank you, Rob. And thank you listeners for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 40:43
If you are finding yourself thinking, I need to do this in my school. Let’s talk about it. I consult and also have a book TEDx talk an online course to support starting learner driven schools and programs. My goal is to help schools and individuals find new innovative solutions to reaching every student. Let’s create an action plan together. Visit to book a call and let’s get started. Education evolution listeners, you are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen, heard, valued and thriving. We need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. I’d be so grateful if you’d head over to your podcast app to give a great rating and review if you found this episode valuable. Don’t wait. Please do it right now. Before you forget. I really appreciate it. Thank you listeners signing off. This is Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your partner in boldly reimagining education.


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