bad ideas from interns: using your company’s email list to promote underage drinking

Check out this amusing email string from a bumbling but very enthusiastic JP Morgan summer intern.

The sequence of events:

1. He sends an all-staff email encouraging people to attend a happy hour that night, noting that the bar “is not strict on IDs so if you have a fake you will be fine. If you don’t have an ID… get one!”  (The underlining and bolding is his, not mine.)  He also notes that it’s “going to be wild.”

The email is marked High Importance.

2. Clearly having been reprimanded, 28 minutes later he sends a follow-up email, which says, “I realized this is not the place to use company time to talk about after work events.”  But don’t worry, because “I will be reaching you from my other email, after work hours from now on.”

3. About an hour later, there’s a third follow-up, this time asserting that the bar is in fact for those 21 and up only.

This is why it’s good to intern before you graduate, so you can get anything like this out of your system before you have a salary at stake.

{ 38 comments… read them below }

  1. Chris*

    That was funny. The sad part is I could see some of our summer interns doing the same thing.

  2. Stephanie*

    Oh I remember we had similar discussions at my internships…we just knew to keep it off the email distribution lists.

  3. rmd*

    Ha! We had something like that (although not quite as egregious) on the ‘bulletin board’ email list at a previous employer. Someone posted an x-box for sale, and explained that it had lots of copied/ripped games on it set up so that you could play without buying any more games. A little while later, he sent a followup explaining that all the games were legitimate copies from friends. THIS IS NOT HELPING YOUR CASE, KID. WHEN YOU ARE IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING.

  4. WomanRebellious*

    My personal favorite is the last line of the update… “Not affiliated with InternParties, just trying to get everyone out and having fun.”

    This poor kid! But hey, what are other peoples’ mistakes for, if not to laugh at?

  5. Long Time Admin*

    We used to go out after work all the time. If we had email back then, this would not have been at all unusual.

    1. Jenna*

      At my job, we have a company sanctioned monthly happy hour that is set up via email distribution lists usually through the CEO herself. It’s great, we all love it since we all get along fabulously (small nonprofit). However, if one of the interns sent an organization-wide email about a “wild” party and advising that the bar is lax in following the drinking age laws so a fake ID is cool, there would be major repercussions. That’s completely different than grabbing a (legal) drink with co-workers after a long day at work.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Back in the day (a long, long time ago), several of us were working full time and still under age (21 then), and we drank a lot more than was good for us. Every one did, or so it seemed to us. Most places didn’t even check for identification, assuming that people who graduated from high school, drove cars, were supporting themselves and working 40 hours a week were adults. I eventually realized that if I couldn’t have fun without being drunk, then I wasn’t really having fun. And now, everyone my age takes medication and can’t have more than one drink, when we do drink.

        As others have said, this *is* the time in his life (the OP) when he’ll make stupid mistakes and learn from them.

  6. Jenna*

    Oh, kid. At least you learned this as an intern, without having to explain a firing on your resume.

  7. dazed and confused*

    I get the impression ya’ll think this is a very serious offense.

    1 – the kid wants to go out and have a few => what college kid doesn’t?

    2 – he decided to invite all his new friends => he’s neive to think his coworkers are interested, sad but true that most of us wouldn’t know fun if it slapped us in the face.

    3 – as far as we know, it’s a first offense

    So, what’s the big deal? Can’t he get away with a slap in the wrist?

    Am I just too forgiving?


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The issue is the fake ID thing.

      I don’t think anyone’s implying it’s the most terrible thing that has ever happened, but it is a really entertaining display of zero common sense.

      1. Laura*

        I agree with AAM. It’s one thing to use a mass email to invite people out for a happy hour. It’s an entirely different beast to call it ‘wild’ and promote an illegal activity, however minor you might think it is. It’s definitely zero common sense.

        1. dazed and confused*

          Granted, it’s entertaining to watch someone stumble. But, why does every misstep have to damage your career? Common sense seems to dictate that this guy should be hammered for his mistake. It’s ridiculous.

          I remember being 20 and trying to sneak into bars. And I remember being 21 and trying to sneak my friends into bars.

          I really think common sense is a bit prudish in this case. Let the kid have his fun; he’ll be shackled with a mortgage, a wife, and 2.5 kids soon enough.

        2. dazed and confused*

          I remember being 20 and trying to get into bars, and I remember being 21 and trying to get my friends into bars. What’s the big deal?

          I think common sense is a bit prudish in this case. Let the kid have his fun; he’ll be shackled with a mortgage, a wife, and 2.5 kids soon enough.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, I went to bars constantly when I was under 21. I think the drinking laws are fairly stupid. But you don’t use company email to advocate using a fake ID — first of all, it creates a legal problem for the company if their resources are being used to promote illegal activity, and second, it makes this guy look terrible that he’s oblivious to that. Also, one mistake is one mistake, but he sent three emails in a row that just continued to miss the point.

          This isn’t about whether it matters if he wants to get hammered at happy hour with his friends. He can go for it, as far as I’m concerned (although I’d warn him against doing it around coworkers, for the reasons Jamie mentioned below). But he really presented himself as clueless, repeatedly, in these emails. Should he be tarred and feathered for it? Of course not. But I think it’s pretty funny to read.

  8. Anonymous*

    At my first job, there was a guy with a blender on his bookshelf. We were a group of scientists and engineers, so I didn’t think too much about it. Lots of strong characters there. At 5pm on Friday, he pulls down the blender, opens up his desk drawer, pulls out the tequila and margarita mix, someone shows up with ice, and everyone comes over with Slurpee cups. Then the “hallway golf” course is set up…..

    sigh. Best job EVER.

    1. Talyssa*

      Damn, that IS the best job ever. I imagine that mostly workplaces don’t want to deal with the liability of people drinking on site.

      We used to do unsanctioned happy hours pretty regularly, but MOST people understood that an unsanctioned happy hour with work people is still …..with work people, so in general everyone keeps it down around 2 drinks max.

      1. dazed and confused*

        This is the issue I tried to address above. Why does being “with work people” after hours have to be like walking on egg shells? Why does every misstep have to damage your career? It’s ridiculous.

        When I was in my 20s, we used to go out regularly. Some (usually the older crowd) would have a drink or two (or diet coke) and go home, others would party until last call. Belligerence and idiocy were aplenty. But, once we were back in the office, it was all business and no one’s career was in ruins.

        Ah, the good ‘ol days…

        When did everyone become so judgmental?

        1. Jamie*

          Personally don’t think being careful when out with co-workers is to guard against people being judgmental as much as it’s to make sure you don’t say too much or cross lines which can’t be forgotten Monday morning.

          I could care less how my co-workers party, but if we were out at a happy hour and they got loose lipped about work related matters or co-workers – or said or did something which will fundamentally change how people think of them (racist comments, being sexually aggressive with a co-worker, for example) that information is out there and it can impact the job.

          You have a little too much to drink and tell me how you do certain things half-assed at work and are cutting corners out of laziness, because you’ve temporarily forgotten that I’m the one in charge of those areas…yeah – that is going to haunt you.

          The above anecdote actually happened.

          Decent workers who want to go out and relax a little shouldn’t have to walk on egg shells – but you should call a cab and go home before it gets to the point of “now let me tell you what I really think of the boss…”

          1. Anonymous*

            Anon again,

            Jamie’s totally right. We did have one person who had a little to drink at a restaurant and started talking about a confidential project with her husband. Not realizing one of the client company’s staffers was at the next table. She lost her job over it.

          2. Talyssa*

            yes, exactly. Last time I was at an event where people cut a little too loose, there was a lot of inappropriate flirting and obvious ogling of a couple of the more attractive ladies while they played pool…while a couple of those same ladies played up to it as well. Just inappropriate behavior for work and when you are out with a big random group of people from work, yes, you need to be aware enough of what you are saying and doing that you don’t become office gossip for the rest of your career. Especially if you are actually a career professional where you are likely to be only 1 or 2 degrees separate from other people in your area and profession.

            Speaking of inappropriate coworker tales …. I once had our new QA person tell me that she’d flat out lied about her work experience and that a lot of Indian people she knew (She was second gen) did the same by using this consulting company who basically fabricates work history for them…. I think it came up because I said something like “oh did you graduate early or did you have a lot of internships or something?” when I found out she was a ‘senior’ QA person with 5+ years of experience but she was only 24. And er, well. She answered honestly.

            No alcohol involved at all, which just goes to show that some people wouldn’t know when to keep their mouths shut no matter how few drinks they’ve had.

        2. Anonymous*

          At that job (I’m anon above here) you could drink until you threw up in a plant and no one would say a word. But if you lit up a cigarette, your career would be over. What is acceptable varies with the job and the group. This was a pretty kooky little company (they only hired “4 pointers” from major Universities, for a start, and when I say we had some strong personalities, I cannot stress that enough).

        3. Ask an Advisor*

          As someone who works with and supervises college students and interns, I have to take issue with you Dazed & Confused…

          You ask “Why does every misstep have to damage your career?” and “When did everyone become so judgmental?” Believing that an intern should understand that missteps have real-world, potentially career-damaging consequences and accept the consequences of his or her actions in a profession setting is not judgmental. If an intern does something stupid on my watch and my company’s time, and that intern is not appropriately reprimanded for it, my company and I have done that student a great disservice in addition to putting us all at risk. I supervise college students and interns, so its my job to be “judgmental” and dole out those consequences if needed.

  9. Mr. X*

    I’m surprised he wasn’t fired. Talk about stupid. That person should have more sense than to do that in a corporate setting.

  10. Marie*

    Promoting underage drinking might *seem* amusing; however, it against the law. You could be arrested for furnishing liquor to a minor – here in California, this is a very serious offense.

  11. EngineerGirl*

    Dear “dazed and confused”. The e-mail is “discoverable evidence” of an illegal activity. What is there not to get? It is a liability to the company.

    1. Jamie*

      Good point – when you think of it like this the way JPM let him address this was rather loose as well.

      Personally, had this been my call to make, immediate termination and someone else sending out the email in response to his.

      Not because I don’t understand that people that age can make mistakes and like to have a good time…but because I happen to be shackled with a mortgage, husband, and 3 kids (.5 up from the example) and protecting the company from litigation is part of the job.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I mean the nightmare scenario here is this: He sends out this email. At the happy hour that night, a 19-year-old intern gets drunk at the happy hour and kills someone in a drunk driving accident later that night. It comes out that JPM’s staff-wide email list was used to encourage her to show up at the bar with a fake ID and have a “wild time.” It’s potentially really bad.

  12. De Minimis*

    Drinking at company events is very common in public accounting, as is the practice of partners or managers taking everyone out for drinks.
    I don’t recall anyone ever worrying too much about IDs, especially when it was in a private setting like a rented facility or someone’s home. People would also drink champagne in the office on promotion day each year. And it was before noon!

  13. The Plaid Cow*

    When I was an intern, there was an all company party–at a rooftop bar. The company assumed the bar was checking and the bar assumed the company only invited people over 21. That was fun and I was still able to drive home at the end of the night.

    On another time, I ended up driving my team lead home after he had way too many on a fourth of July party and chucked a glass tumbler out of a third floor hotel room. I think he was embarrassed enough that he never did that again.

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