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Over the course of the summer, I’ve had the chance to witness different styles of office leadership and think about how effective they are. My friend’s, my boyfriend’s, and my office all have different styles of running and coordinating with their interns.

At my friend’s office, everyone works silently at their desks all day. My friend’s boss emails her her tasks and updates, even though she’s across the room from her, and could converse with her about these projects. My friend then usually works on these larger tasks, like trying to interpret the Swedish version of some EU law, for two or three days.

At my boyfriend’s office, each of the interns works under a direct supervisor. In his case, his supervisor cc’s him on most emails, brings him along to meetings, and assigns him projects, but has been extremely communicative and flexible. If his supervisor will be out of town, he lets him know so my boyfriend can plan to attend meetings or hearings around D.C. rather than being in the office with nothing to do.

My office is a little different in its setup because it doesn’t function like a business but rather a university office. This has been especially interesting for myself and the other interns because we don’t work under one specific supervisor or have one set thing to do every day. I enjoy this in some ways because our tasks aren’t the same every day, but also earlier in the summer, before the new fellows came in, it could be very slow if no one in the office needed your help since we didn’t have any particular person whose responsibility it was to find us something to do. The other time where this model has been frustrating is in busier times when we don’t have a clear line of command and several office members need assistance. For example, this past week, one of the professors required assistance from the interns with a few tasks for her program, but the rest of the office was focusing on in-processing the 40 some new officers. We came in early Thursday and spent all day running around Washington completing tasks associated with this, as there are a lot of logistical moving parts, especially when it involves getting officers from point A to point B at rush hour. Obviously in-processing was treated as the priority, and the other interns and myself were integral to this process because we had assigned roles for it, but the professor we were also supposed to be assisting became very frustrated because she didn’t understand why we weren’t in the office to work on her project for the three or four hours that it required, despite the fact that we had communicated to her about the fact that we wouldn’t be able to prioritize it. In this case, having a clearer line of command (or having a position with more credibility) would have been helpful to ensure everything would be taken care of without different office members feeling slighted or understaffed.

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