Are you guys ready for a flood of “where are they now” updates from readers who had their questions answered here this year? I’m getting a lot of updates, and I’ll be posting them here throughout the month (along with regular posts too).
Our first update is from the reader who had an intern from hell living with her. After the intern was fired for various well-deserved reasons, she and her friends started tweeting awful things about our reader and her company. The reader was worried about how this might damage her own reputation and how to handle future reference calls. Here’s her update:
Alas, there’s no heartwarming tale of redemption here. She never called me to apologize and tearfully profess how much she’d learned from the experience, there was no metaphorical hug-and-share-and-love-and-grow moment. Professionally I know that can’t be expected. this isn’t a Sweet Valley High book, even if she did behave like a teenage.
What did happen: after we fired her, she absconded back home, taking with her my spare phone I might add, as well as never turning in the last few assignements she had assured me she had finished. My first week in my main head office was a little rough: I was nervous people were going to hold her behaviour against me. Thankfully, they were mostly just baffled. i took the advice of your readers and either didn’t bring it up, or addressed it directly with my boss and my web guy head on privately. They were incredibly cool and sympathetic about it. I later found out through the office grapevine that my boss, who is based in the main office and only sees me in person once or twice a month, had railed against the intern privately to some coworkers at after work drinks one night, along the lines of how dare she do this to me, after everything I’ve done for her. So it turned out he actually had my back pretty well, and it’s all settled fairly nicely. I’ve also been in touch with the school, and after our last conversation about this, the head of the internship program (who incidentally was one of my professors while I was at school) said as an aside how ‘impressed she was with how professionally and reasonably I handled this.” So, as some of your ever-helpful readers speculated, I may have even increased my own reputation by not melting down over this.
As for the intern herself, I did keep a few tabs on her after she left. The tweets eventually stopped. After speaking with my boss and HR, they thought it would be less confrontational if I approached the Twitter Fiend Friend directly, to ask her to remove the tweets. She’s also an alum from my university, so I think the thinking was that would be casual and have it all stop with a minimum of drama. Her response was acres of vitriol, demanding to know what had happened and why the intern was ‘really’ fired before she’d even consider removing her posts (I informed her that that sort of thing was confidential between the intern adn the company, and ended that email chain). She was in dragon slaying mode for a long time though, and I still occassionally get tagged in posts from her, usually when she’s in an Occupy Wall Street mode and I apparently become the empodiment of the entitled ‘man’ keeping she and her special little snowflake friends ‘down’. I mostly try to laugh at these now, as she doesn’t seem to realize I’m no where near the age, affluence etc of this evil corporate figurehead she seems to want to battle. She is deeply involved in the whole no-more-unpaid-internship movements and I’m told by friends that I’ve even been referenced in a megaphone speech at a rally as a symbol of what will eventually destroy our industry. And that people like me should take our bloated salaries and bonus’ and use those to pay our slaves (um, what bonus? Has she looked at salary expectations in our fields? Anemic, not bloated. I’m lucky I can afford cheese). I’ve heard she’s since had a hard time finding full-time employment: my guess? She comes off a little too radical, hard to work with, etc, which is clear the minute you google her and see her blog and twitter accounts. And trust me, people in my field are googling.
As for the Intern herself. . .My company’s name still appears on the online portfolio she is sending to employers. She never removed it, and the way it has it phrased makes it sound like she completed the entire internship with us. Soon after all of this went down, I was having a conversation with a friend back home about it. I didn’t use names, just called her the Evil Intern, adn in the middle she stopped me and said ‘wait, is this so and so?’ Turns out Intern had pulled similar all sizzle and no steak drama at my friend’s workplace the summer before, but since that wasn’t an internship set up by the school, no one ever knew about it. As my friend told it, Intern swooped in and pushed her way into the centre, taking on projects and pitching ideas and claiming she’d do all this amazing stuff. . . and then never delivered in person. Then one day she just stopped turning up at all.
Soon enough, another friend approached me because she had been contacted by the school to have Intern finish her six weeks with her company. The school had briefly told her that Intern hadn’t worked out with me, and my friend wanted to find out why. I told her as diplomatically as I could, just the facts, keeping out the emotion, but Intern didn’t get that posting either. I eventually found out she got one in another city, and through aquaintences found she scraped by there. She finished the program, however I’ve been told by profs at the school who I keep in touch with that several of them turned her down when she approached them to be references: which is crucial coming out of school, as professors are often the only industry-related recommendations you have. She’s since gotten a job, not in our field, but in one of those periphery-to-it type jobs, where she’s ironically enough in charge of their website and social media.
As for me, in the almost-year since this went down, I’ve been promoted :) SO I guess this didn’t ruin my reputation as much as I’d feared!