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Understanding Your Summer Interns

The interns this business-owner hired wore flip-flops and didn't know how to work the copier, but they were creative and fearless too

Nancy Shenker returned from lunch to find three words scrawled across the office whiteboard: "My butt itches." The culprits? Not vandals, but the summer interns that Shenker, founder of theONswitch, based in Thornwood, N.Y., had hired to work in her small marketing firm.

The incident, and others involving office attire, work hours, and vacation requests, taught Shenker some lessons about employing millennials, another name for today's teens and twentysomethings. She spoke recently with Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein about the good,the bad, and the ugly. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.