Would you hire a pencil-less kid?


I was at a workforce event the other day. I sat next to a woman who was responsible for hiring at a utility company. As this discussion was set up for employers to tell educators about the skills the “emerging workforce” will need for "jobs of the future," it’s kind of an invitation for business people to complain.

This HR representative took the bait. She was eager to recount a recent experience she had when a young guy called her about an internship. You see, her utility company regularly hires as interns students from the local career-technical school. I’m not sure if they’re high school or post-high school, but I’m imaging 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds.

She says, “I told him to take down this number and he said, ‘I don’t have a pencil.’ I mean, can you believe it? He didn’t have a pencil!” She was all indignant like.

I asked if that was a disqualifier, not having a pencil. Is having a pencil—or being prepared with a pencil—requisite to do the internship? Furthermore, isn’t an internship, by definition, an opportunity to learn? To be trained?

(OK, I didn’t say all that—nor as snarky as I’m being right now. I did ask about the pencil requirement, though.)

I have little patience for people “in power” who make decisions based on stupid reasoning. Further, I’ve had it up to here with employers who complain about the lac