interns complained about me, I don’t want to help hire my replacement, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Interns complained about me

This is my third year hosting student interns for course worksite field study placement. Last week, I was blindsided by students accusing me of unprofessional behavior — everything from being angry that a business associate “hugged her and she’s a married woman” to “she made us sit on the floor.” The latter made me laugh, as I had repeatedly asked these students to go to the conference room to work on their projects and they refused, opting for the floor even over the chairs in my office.

I was upset by the call, as apparently these students started complaining on Monday, not to me but to their course advisor, who did not see fit to contact me until Thursday to ask about events earlier in the week. These students misrepresented every aspect of their time at my site and directly lied about some things. With two days left in their assignment, the students were allowed to change sites based on their accusations.

I feel the advisor should have called me Monday, with the initial complaint so I would have known the students were unhappy and suggested a reassignment before this escalated to a personal attack, which it did. I found later one student emailed business contacts (info taken off my desk) and shared her opinion of me with them, but the advisor does not want to speak to these contacts about it, saying “I can’t believe that happened.”

At this point, I do not want to accept any more students, though this was the first negative experience. I’m uncomfortable with this advisor but do not want to be viewed as vengeful by refusing future students.

A student took business contacts off your desk and emailed them her opinion of you?? That’s seriously messed up and a huge violation, and the fact that the advisor isn’t taking that seriously is the most worrisome thing here. Students complaining that you hugged someone who’s not your spouse is bad too, but not nearly as bad as that (which is a measure of how bad the contact theft/email is, not a measure of how minor the hug-shaming is). I don’t think the part about not contacting until Thursday about complaints from Monday is that big of a deal — but the other stuff sure is, especially the first part.

Can you go over the advisor’s head and talk to her boss? I’d explain that you’re considering pulling out of the program entirely because of the advisor’s cavalier attitude about the email to your contacts and ask if it’s possible to work with someone else. If it’s not, I think it’s entirely reasonable not to participate in future years.

2. I don’t want to help hire a replacement for a job I hated

I work for a small nonprofit organization as the right hand woman for the executive director. Though I knew when I started the job that the E.D. would be a difficult man to work with, after 18 months I have decided there is not enough potential for us to build a good working relationship for me to continue working here. He speaks to his employees in demeaning ways, sexually harasses women in our office, and is unpredictable regarding his work schedule and which of his job duties he is willing to fulfill (there have been pay periods where he has refused to come in to sign checks on the day they were to be distributed just to make a point). In addition, some unspoken expectations have come to my attention that have to do with helping to cover up misspent grant funds and general lack of transparency when it comes to the organization’s financial management.

I don’t feel the need to take a righteous stand when I turn in my resignation because I have no interest in seeing the organization struggle or fail. The problem is I think the E.D. will want me to help hire and train my replacement. Given my generally horrible and abusive experience working here, I don’t feel comfortable having any part in giving someone else my bad job (and I have good reason to believe any successor would run into the same issues). I’m expected to give four weeks notice and less would be considered “leaving them in the lurch,” both in my experience of other organizations and here. And each of my predecessors in this position have hired and trained their replacements in that time.

The E.D. can’t require that I do this for him before I leave, right? Any suggestions for how I can get out of it? I’m worried that if E.D. feels defensive or accused of wrongdoing, his negative opinion of me could limit my future opportunities in the community where we are based. I’d really like a clean break.

He can indeed require that you spend your remaining time trying to hire and train a replacement … but that doesn’t mean that you need to mislead candidates. You can be fairly open about the challenges of the job, without openly trash-talking your boss. In fact, you will do a better job of hiring if you do that, because it’s better for the organization if people self-select out if those challenges are deal-breakers to them. Here’s more detailed advice about how to do that.

The sexual harassment part, unfortunately, doesn’t fit neatly into this advice. I think the best thing that you can do there is to urge your colleagues to push back as a group, including taking that complaint to the board (which is your boss’s boss), and to consider being a part of that yourself. There’s safety in numbers, and smart boards will take that information very seriously.

3. Can I send in a second, better cover letter for a job I’ve already applied for?

There is a job available at an organization I would love to work for. The position I am interested in is perfect for me. I was so excited when I first saw the posting that I applied right away. I was really proud of the cover letter I wrote. However, after having it peer reviewed, I found it did not clearly highlight my skills pertaining to the specific job. I was really discouraged, so I wrote a brand new one and had it reviewed. The new cover letter received a positive response, and now I really want to re-send it.

Is it unprofessional to resubmit a resume and cover letter for a position you have already applied for?

Can’t do it. It’ll look weird to say “wait, I want to use this one instead.” You really just get the one shot, and that’s it.

4. Navigating interviews in a wheelchair

I’ve been out of work for almost two years while dealing with health issues. I’m now ready to start looking for work again but am facing a dilemma. In order to be out and about for eight to ten hours a day for a commute and job, I’m going to have to use my wheelchair. The thing is, I’m terrible at it. I bump into doorways. I have trouble getting lined up with desks properly. I’ve run into people accidentally — a lot. Plus, I sweat quite a bit while using it, probably a combination of muscles unused to the work of pushing it and nervous perspiration. I think time and practice will help me get better at it, but what do I do for job interviews now? I don’t want to tell people that I’m new at this because I’m afraid that they will unconsciously be judging my health instead of my qualifications. I’d rather appear calm and collected about it, like the wheelchair is just an extension of me. Any advice?

By the way, I don’t qualify for an electric wheelchair through insurance and they are too expensive for me to buy right now. Perhaps after I’ve worked for a while, I can afford one, but for now, it’s the regular kind.

I would just warmly say, “So sorry — I’m new at this!” Most people are going to be understanding and compassionate. Mentioning that you’re new at it isn’t going to make them think about your health; if anything, it might make them more empathetic to the difficulties of getting around.

Any more specific advice from wheelchair users out there?

5. Asking about a job that might appear next year

I’ve read that a large grocer, known for often having a teapot department in their stores, will be opening a new store in my community next year. I would be very interested in applying for a job in their store if they are putting in a teapot department, I live in a remote community, have 25 years experience as a teapot maker, and have just been terminated wthout cause for “business reasons”. There are few other job opportunities for teapot makers in this region, and I could hang on here until a job became available next year. My question is: should I contact the company in advance to see if they will be installing a teapot department, and let them know that I live here already and would be interested in working for them?

I don’t think it’ll do you much good. First, they may not tell you; second, if they do tell you, their plans may end up changing, and third, most importantly, there’s no guarantee you’d get a job there in a year. Proceed as you would if this weren’t happening, since it’s a pretty remote possibility right now.

{ 308 comments… read them below }

  1. Rubyrose*

    #4 – practice now, every day. No wheelchair, but I had the same situation with crutches. I would go to a local shopping center who had difficult stairs. I was so glad I did when I went to interview at an old building, with no elevaror, on third floor.

    1. Alison Read*

      Having recently graduated from my wheelchair (due to lupus – remission now) I’m wondering if your need for a chair is like mine was? For energy conservation/excess strain from long days? Something about being in a chair people don’t realize is that it takes so much more energy to get around than walking, if I didn’t have someone to push me there is no way I could do it on my own. I am wondering if a walker with a seat might be an option since you mention the length of the day being the reason you need your chair? There are walkers that have a seat that folds up while your walking that you can fold down and sit on if you find yourself in a situation where you need to stand – also the sides will fold in so the entire thing can fold away flat for convenience when you need it to. If you do look at walkers definitely check to ensure it folds flat – I ended up with one that didn’t and man they take up a lot of space! Wishing you the very best, being in a chair is not fun.

      1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

        Came to offer this suggestion as well–the device is known as a rollator. Models with with hand brakes, a heavy duty seat and a storage basket are under $200. You could find a new simpler model with a seat only for under $100 or even less expensive on Craigslist.

      2. Wheelchair OP*

        That’s mostly the reason. I actually do use a walker you describe at home but I’m very much afraid I won’t make it through the day using it exclusively based on how tired I get. The other factor is leg and hip pain which limits my ability to walk, even with the walker. On bad days, it’s the wheelchair if I want to be mobile at all. And I hate the thought of starting a new job and being on a walker one day and a wheelchair the next. I’m afraid it will spark too many conversations. I think I’m just so new with my new body that I’m a bit defensive about how I appear.

        1. M-C*

          OP, I think you’re confusing matters here. It may very well be that you need a wheelchair in order to survive 8+ hours at work. But the immediate problem here is the -interview- which hopefully should be a lot shorter :-). Kidding aside, I think you should show up at the interview with your familiar and more maneuverable walker, and then only if you get the job consider showing up with the wheelchair for a long day. In fact, could you do something like use the walker at work and the chair at home, or conversely? Might save you a lot of energy not to have to schlep the big equipment back and forth. And which you use where would depend a lot on how much you move around for your job (in mine, I could pretty much stay parked at my desk a lot of the day..). Good luck in any case! A joke about bad teenage driving when you crash into something would I agree be a good strategy if something goes wrong on the spot.

          1. Wheelchair OP*

            This is a good point and something I hadn’t thought of. Depending of what kind of day I’m having (and I can’t predict with certainty day to day when my less mobile periods are going to be), I may very well be able to get out with my walker. Truth be known, I’m just scared to be out and have my energy suddenly and completely flag and then not be able to get myself home. So I instinctively thought that if I leave the house in the wheelchair, if I’m exhausted, I can just park for a while and read a book and it looks purposeful. If I just sit down on my walker to rest, passersby will stop to ask if I need help, which embarrasses me. (I should totally get over feeling embarrassed but it still creeps up on me.)

            1. irritable vowel*

              I have a friend who uses a wheelchair but is also able to get around with a walker (although I think he is more reliant on the wheelchair than it sounds like you are). A thing I’ve learned from him is that if you’re out in the wheelchair, that’s it–you can’t easily get up and move it and yourself around if you’d like in order to be more mobile. So it can ironically be a little more limiting in terms of mobility. If it’s the commute that you’re worried might be the most taxing, do you qualify for paratransit from your local public transit authority? (You can schedule rides to take you door to door.) And do you have an occupational or physical therapist you could ask for advice and help on developing maneuvering and energy-saving skills as well as dealing with the feelings of embarrassment?

              1. Wheelchair OP*

                This may be more info than you are comfortable sharing about your friend but does he find that all his conversations with acquaintances (like work colleagues) are solely about his health at that moment. I ask because it’s obvious to my loved ones how I’m doing if I appear at an event in my wheelchair vs. the walker. And I get so tired of talking about it. I’m imagining work colleagues not having much other things to talk to me about would latch on to walker=she’s better today vs. wheelchair=oh no, not so good. Does your friend experience this?

                1. irritable vowel*

                  He’s not a close friend, so we don’t talk a lot about this kind of stuff, but yeah, I’m sure that happens. How about spinning it as “I’m using the wheelchair to conserve energy” when people ask or comment, rather than letting them steer the conversation towards “how are you doing?” *concerned face/head tilt*.

                  After I posted my original reply, I noticed in a thread below that you don’t have access to an occupational therapist because of your insurance – sorry about that! It looks like there are some videos online that teach wheelchair skills, if something like that might help.

        2. OhNo*

          Full time wheelchair user here, just dropping in to say that using a wheelchair just takes practice. It took me at least a year or two – and that’s using a wheelchair full time! – to get really good at it, and I’m still improving every day, even now, nearly a decade later.

          Seriously, you can just be forthright about the fact that you’re new to it. If you’re comfortable, you can even make jokes. I do all the time, especially when I accidentally bump into someone (which, yes, still happens).

          If you want more specific advice, just try to take it slow. Give yourself about twice as much time as you think you need, and move as slowly as you need to to get around without bumping into things. People will almost always automatically accommodate your speed (it’s something humans just do naturally), so you can take your time and feel comfortable moving around, rather than trying to rush and making yourself nervous.

    2. Hazel Edmunds*

      A friend of mine uses a wheelchair permanently and teaches wheelchair skills through a local charity.
      Unfortunately that’s in the UK but it might be worth investigating whether there are any free classes available to you.

      1. Alison Read*

        Oh! Good idea, here in the States OTs teach patients these type of skills as well as being a great source of tips that make life so much easier. OT visits are usually covered under medical insurance.

        1. Wheelchair OP*

          Sadly, I don’t qualify for occupational therapy services under my insurance because I’m not confined to the wheelchair all the time. I did try to get Social Security disability so I could use their return to work program to pay for OT but it’s been two years and I’m still waiting for my hearing. If I do get disability before I find a job, I’ll definitely use every service they have.

          1. OhNo*

            There are some really interesting videos on YouTube of different wheelchair skills – you might check some of those out as well, if you want some tricks to practice in the mean time.

      2. Xarcady*

        I’m also wondering if the chair is the right size/type for the LW. Given the difficulty in controlling it, a different chair might work better. I think OTs or PTs can also help with that. And there is a world of difference between wheelchair brands. Some are much more maneuverable than others. Even if a new chair is out of the question, there may be modifications that can be made so that it is easier to use the chair.

        But definitely try to get more training on the use of the chair. And things to do to build up your upper body strength.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m wondering if a medical supply place might have some suggestions–they might know a place or a program that can help the OP with this and is free or inexpensive.

    3. Betty (the other Betty)*

      Would renting an electric wheelchair or scooter be a possibility? We rented one for a month when my MIL visited and it was relatively inexpensive (around $100 IIRC); they may have had a daily or weekly rate. You might need someone to help get it in and out of a car, though.

      MIL also has one of those rollator walkers with a seat that other people mentioned, and that usually does the trick for her. She has a deluxe model which can also be used as a ‘transport’ chair (make a few simple adjustments and she can sit in it while someone else pushes it). It is NOT possible to sit in it and move yourself (like a regular wheelchair).

      Good luck with your interviews!

    4. ted mosby*

      OP, anyone who judges you even a little bit is just being a… word I won’t type here. Smile, try hard not to look apologetic or embarrassed, and use Allison’s line or something similar. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being bad at using a wheel chair. People not in wheelchairs know we would probably be bad at using them at first too. If anything I would find it kind of endearing and funny. And no, bumping into people isn’t annoying, even if it’s a lot! As long as you’re making some kind of effort not to. Decent people will get it.

  2. Jeanne*

    For #2, I don’t think we should gloss over misspent grant funds and bad financial management. OP, do everything you can to not contribute to that. It is immoral and possibly illegal depending on details. You can and should report that to the board. I know you want the nonprofit to continue to help people but it can’t and shouldn’t continue that way.

    Good luck in your job search.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depending on the seriousness, yes. There’s a whole range of things this could be though, from the not terribly serious to the extremely serious.

      1. Roscoe*

        Excatly, not to excuste the behavior, but it could be anything from shifting line items to keep the lights on (not terribly serious IMO) or just flat out stealing. Too big a range to give a definite opinoion

      2. Bwmn*

        I agree with this. There are also a number of gray areas around things like double funding and back funding that depending on who you talk to and how the grant is structured/worded can be everywhere along the line of not terribly serious to very serious. Completely reasonable to make one person feel uncomfortable and another person (or board member) to not respond to it that way.

        I also have to say that if the situation really uncomfortable, then just give 2 weeks notice. The realistic chances of hiring someone completely new and getting them trained is probably not super likely. And if someone from within gets promoted to your position in that span of time, at least you know that they’re aware of what situation they’re walking into.

        1. Paige Turner*

          Yeah, given the circumstances, I was also wondering if the OP should just give two weeks’ notice instead of four. If she thinks that she won’t be using the ED as a reference/getting a positive reference from him anyway, it doesn’t seem like there’s much advantage to a longer notice period.

        2. #2 OP*

          The financial management issues are really twofold. In saying “misspent grant funds” I’m referring to grant funds received for programs that were not spent on any aspect of programming, including keeping the lights on. Mostly this means checks to E.D.’s friends as “contractors” (no contracts, no work performed), or for things like “outreach” and “community support”. Board tacitly condones this. I would feel more lenient toward this kind of executive action since I know networking is important, but unfortunately the other piece of this problem is a complete lack of access to program funds. Program Director has no access to funds or decision-making power regarding purchases, vast majority of grant money for programs is simply not spent on programs. E.D. refuses to follow any kind of budget. Board has no excuse to not know about this, doesn’t seem to care. I have already tried to address this constructively by suggesting supportive policies to adopt (definitely funders are concerned about lack of internal controls), and E.D. has responded by accusing me of trying to sabotage his organization. Not sure how I could convey these challenges to a job candidate both honestly and without seeming like I’m just airing dirty laundry or “trash-talking”.

          1. M-C*

            OP, a local organization I work for has had a terrible time recovering from an ED who wiped them out completely. I agree that making these shady activities clear to the board would be a very good thing.. Would it be possible for you to use your remaining time (and yes, 2 weeks would be more usual) to gather some actual evidence of these things, or at least write up a timeline with as much detail as you can muster? Then think long and hard about who on the board you think is condoning these activities, and who seems both honest and in the dark. Have a talk with the latter, after you’re working elsewhere, handing over your written materials. A journal of incidents of sexual harassment you have witnessed would also be helpful, as even a nonprofit should not consider themselves above the law, or immune from being sued. You do have a duty to the organization to let them know, but it stops there, after you transmit the information you should back off and go on with your life without staying further involved.

            As to your successor, I totally understand your misgivings. You might want to explain the extra duties in a totally deadpan way “and make sure no female intern is ever left alone with him in the office”, “keep copies of all outside contractor bills” etc and leave it to them to ask more questions/figure things out? You do not have any obligation to -deceive-, even while it’d be prudent for your own sake to not volunteer too much too directly.

          2. Treena*

            Holy Hanukkah Balls! Invented contracts for no work done, no program funds, no budget??

            Can you say something in relation to a job duty during training? Like when going over anything related the finances (wrangling boss’ receipts maybe?) you casually mention in a really blase way. “There isn’t much of a budget, so things are a little loose around here” paired with a pointed look.

            1. Artemesia*

              It always makes me so sad to see grifters gutting worthwhile non-profits. I wouldn’t get bent out of shape with a little creative budgeting where programs borrow from each other within an organization or grants that are designed to fund X also end up funding a little Y. It may not be perfect accounting but it isn’t corrupt. But sweetheart ‘contracts’ to non-working friends is simple grift — it wouldn’t be that swell if they were actually delivering work either unless it really was the best way to get that work done — but no show ‘contracts’ are simple graft. I have watched a great non-profit be destroyed by an officer with her hand in the till and then subsequent bad management.

          3. Smithy*

            If as you say the board knows (or seriously should know) and is going along with this, then I would just give 2 weeks and let them do whatever they can in that time. Two weeks is a fairly short time to truly advertise, screen, and invite people in for interviews – let alone hire someone.

            If grants are being handled this badly, then ultimately the grant giving institutions will catch this – or these are grants from institutions that allow this kind of fuzzy record keeping (which happens!). But I really can’t see speaking up to the board helping.

          4. Edward Rooney*

            If you care about the purpose of the organization, a little tip to an investigative journalist might be able to help the organization (by getting rid of the ED), and maybe save your job, assuming you would want to continue under a new ED.

        3. Doriana Gray*

          I was going to say the same thing – tell them you can only give two weeks because your new job needs you to start then and be done. Then you won’t have to worry about training an unsuspecting outsider.

    2. TootsNYC*

      for #2, re: the financial irregularities–

      I do think the OP should remember to protect her reputation.

      Depending on the seriousness of the problem, I might want to be associated with those irregularities when (not if) they eventually come to light.

    3. Velociraptor Attack*

      I think this is particularly important if they get federal money. The board needs to be made aware of that.

      1. Bwmn*

        The OP has said that the ED has not allowed any kind of budget, and without one – I have a hard time seeing how they’d ever get a federal grant. And if it is federal money or money from a similarly strict grant giving agency, I think the ship of trouble has already sailed.

        However…..if these grants are for a program such a Teapots for the Elderly, and the language of the grant is such that even though the proposal talks about efforts to ensure that every person 75 plus in the county has a teapot if they need one – but there’s also unlocking language to say “this money supports Teapots for the Elderly and also Teapots for All 501c3” – then there are some ways that the grant can be interpreted in such a way to unlock how those funds should be spent.

        I 100% agree that it sounds like a situation where the OP should get out – but things may also be squishy enough to let some of this continue for a while.

  3. Jeanne*

    For #1, an intern emailed your business contacts to complain about you after knowing you less than a week. Not ok. The intern should fail the course as this would never ever be acceptable intern behavior. Please pursue this with the school. The advisor appears to be lacking in ethics as well since s/he won’t even investigate such a serious claim. I would also want to remove myself from the program. It’s not worth it if the students damage your reputation.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I was under the impression that they only had the week with her – not a normal college semester-long internship. Not sure what a “worksite field study placement” but it sounds more like high school students rather than college students to me too given the adviser’s heavy involvement.

        If it wasn’t short term to begin with why would they be reassigned for the final two days. That would not be long enough to do anything for a company.

        1. themmases*

          I don’t think we can glean anything about these students’ level from the letter. I was thinking as I read it that it sounded like an MPH practicum (the public health projects I work on love the term “worksite”).

          The lack of office space and the OP’s wanting to hear about the complaints sooner make it sound like a short term thing, but they don’t actually say that. It could just be a small office, and I would be annoyed too in OP’s shoes since this was the end of the internship, however long it was.

          1. Kelly L.*

            The end-of-internship issues makes me go kind of conspiracy-theorist. Could the ringleader have been about to flunk, and engineered this to get pulled off the assignment at the last minute?

            1. Doriana Gray*

              That’s exactly what I thought when reading it, Kelly L. It sounded to me like the complaining students weren’t going to get very positive feedback from this internship experience, they knew it, and that’s why they suddenly started complaining towards the end of their placement.

    1. LisaLee*

      Yes! I’m also wondering if this is the work of one intern, not the whole group. I have a hard time imagining a whole group having these ridiculous complaints, but I can see one troublemaker pretending to speak for everyone.

      1. Dangerously Cheezy*

        I think that is the likely path, I can’t see everyone complaining and none of it be true… this happened back in college when we had a bad teacher. We’d all of course make comments behind his back but then one girl went to the Dean with a class complaint asking for him to be replaced without consulting any of us. Everyone automatically assumed it truly was a class complaint rather than one privileged idiot.

      2. Kate M*

        I mean, I could see one strong personality leading others to make false complaints or say things they otherwise wouldn’t, especially if these are young students.

        But if this were my intern program, they would have been fired right away, and definitely wouldn’t get a reference from us in the future. That is appalling behavior on their end.

      3. Anon-for-this college educator*

        I see a lot of this in cohort programs. We laugh that every cohort has a complaint, but it’s never the same one. One or two people get a chip on their shoulder (sometimes due to a legit issue, usually not) and proceed to incite the whole group. Then the advisor or dean hears repeatedly about how “everyone” is failing/thinks the instructor is rude/was told they didn’t have to meet X requirement/etc etc etc, but when they request that “everyone” come to a meeting to work it out, only the rabblerouser shows.

      4. many bells down*

        Or maybe a small group of 3 or 4 of them that are friends already. I’ve seen this happen in some of my classes when I was a student. On person would have a bad experience, she’d complain about it to her “clique” and they’d all decide that Professor Smith was terrible even though no one else had actually had any bad experience.

    2. irritable vowel*

      And I would insist that someone from the program follow up with the business contacts to apologize on behalf of the internship program.

    3. Celtic Leigh*

      Thank you for your response. I am the OP for #1. It would appear that not only are there ethical issues with the program and the students but the issue at hand lies within the realm of bigotry. I went back and reviewed all of the students resumes and realized one of the students involved had never had any prior work experience outside of a deep rooted fundamentalist Christian church. It occurred to me on Monday she had asked me what my religious preference was and I had said to her that is a personal question and I am not going to answer it. This same intern, later asked if one of the staff members was Muslim. I again informed her that the religion of any staff member had nothing to do with anyone’s ability to perform their job. Later in the day, it was once again this same intern asking about a photograph of a gentleman in my office wearing the traditional clothing of his native country and asked if that was my husband, To which I replied that it was actually my brother who was deceased. The intern then began asking about my ethnic origin. I have been in contact with the school program, yet they feel their handling of the matter was I have been in contact with the school program, yet they feel their handling of the matter was sufficient. I could be completely wrong in my next statement but I believe this is reflective of the generation that is being permitted to demand safe spaces instead of two ho I could be completely wrong in my next statement but I believe this is reflective of the generation that is being permitted to demand safe spaces instead of Scott cultural diverse city and respect in the workplace and the educational setting. Given what my business contact told me was charged against me …. She’s not even a Christian …. As one of the unprofessional things that I did, I believe that the school should not only fail her in the course but truly look at additional repercussions. I chose not to answer her question so she assumed she knew the answer and made it her personal business to slander me in the business community.

      1. Zahra*

        That’s not a safe space. That’s Christian (and I bet white) privilege.

        Safe spaces are important. To me, a safe space is where I can talk about East Indian-related things without having to answer basic questions. It’s where I can talk about stuff that happens to women only (or mostly) without being talked down to. It’s where I can talk about my traumatic birth experience without being told “but baby is healthy, that’s what’s important”. (Thanks a lot for reducing me to a vessel whose job is to produce a healthy baby. Nevermind my feelings and my mental state, vessels don’t have those.)

      2. fposte*

        Yikes. I’m with Zahra in thinking that if this is being argued about as a safe space, somebody’s misunderstood the concept (for one thing, who expects that from a workplace?) and that this is just a young person who’s lived an extremely sheltered life and who is now bullied her school into keeping her that way. I think that’s a perfectly sound reason not to take interns from that school any more. “We had difficulties with students being unwilling to respect a diverse workplace, and we didn’t feel like problems were taken seriously when we reported them.”

        1. Celtic Leigh*

          Please apologize for my earlier response. It appears my speak to say program likes to stutter !!!!

        2. Zahra*

          Well, I expect work to be a safe space in the sense that I want it to be exempt of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. I want to be respected as a person. But I don’t expect it to shelter me from the consequences of my actions or to baby me in times of hardship.

          I know it’s not true of all workplaces, but that’s what we should all strive to provide as a work environment.

        3. Jeanne*

          Yes. A safe space does not mean getting whatever you want when you want it. This is not about safe spaces at all.

      3. Jeanne*

        What a nosy parker. Why is it any of her business what religion anyone practices or whether they’re married or where they’re from. This experience could be an outlier with not many students acting this way. But since the school won’t take it seriously, I would still want to back out of taking students.

      4. Katie the Fed*

        What the WHAT:

        “on Monday she had asked me what my religious preference was and I had said to her that is a personal question and I am not going to answer it. This same intern, later asked if one of the staff members was Muslim. I again informed her that the religion of any staff member had nothing to do with anyone’s ability to perform their job. Later in the day, it was once again this same intern asking about a photograph of a gentleman in my office wearing the traditional clothing of his native country and asked if that was my husband, To which I replied that it was actually my brother who was deceased. The intern then began asking about my ethnic origin. ”

        That’s a big pile of NOPE. Sounds like you tried to help her but she wasn’t having it.

      5. YaH*

        That’s disgusting and I’m so sorry that you a) had to deal with such an idiot, b) were completely let down by the non-response of the supervisor, and c) are now having to question whether you even wish to continue a relationship with the program.

      6. Random Lurker*

        Wow, OP1, that is CRAZY! so sorry you were subject to that student causing so many problems for you because you were not (or seemed not to be) Christian. And then the school/advisor didn’t do anything further about it!? Just crazy.

      7. Observer*

        If the school thinks that their handling of the situation is sufficient, you guys really do need to cut out your participation in the program. The issue is not calling the contacts, as much as condoning some of the behavior, and denying the rest.

        And, I agree with the others, this has nothing to do with safe spaces. Yes, the concept gets over-used. But, this is not related even in it’s most “stretched out” version.

  4. Artemesia*

    I have been involved with many internships programs from the academic side and was on the appeals committee that heard the worst student violation in the program. It was slightly worse than your students emailing a business contact, but only slightly. Our program pulled the student, denied re-assignment that semester and flunked him. He didn’t graduate with his class as a result (a giant big thing in our school — I’m sure grandma already had tickets) and had to make up the placement locally during the summer in order to graduate. His very pompous father wrote us long memos of appeal, we simply returned them and suggested any appeal come from the student. We then got self justifying materials from the student and petitions from his friends. Our committee recommended he be permanently expelled but the Dean felt we could not go beyond the punishment already meted out. He was told the committee felt the consequences had been inadequately harsh.

    Assuming your account is close to accurate and there is no serious thing left out, this supervisor is seriously out of line to allow the students to be reassigned and the not following the email up is outrageous. This is something empirically ascertainable.

    I would go to the supervisor’s boss and focus on the student’s behavior of emailing a client (the rest is silly stuff but that is heinous) And I would drop this school from the internship program. The student should have been at minimum suspended for a semester; this is a serious violation of ethics and suggests a program that has not prepared or supervised well. (yes any program can have a student do something awful like that, but their response suggests a lack of professionalism and integrity.) This kind of response with the focus on the total failure of supervision and integrity should be a wake up call to their program.

    1. Biff*

      The really weeird thing here is that a GROUP of students all seemed to have done the same thing — complained to the advisor and switched assignments. I wonder if there was some sort of weird group-think happening? I noticed that at my previous job, which trained groups, there was more negativity/group think.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        I suspect that they generated false accusations to get out of the assignment. Maybe they thought it was too hard. Maybe they didn’t like being bossed around (not understanding that the boss does get to tell you what to do).
        What they did was egregious. The lies show a character issue that can’t be fixed. Filing a false report is grounds for termination in a real job. Using company data in an unauthorized manner would be grounds for termination in a real job.
        I would definately go over the advisors head. Her unwillingness to even investigate is a huge red flag.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I seem to remember that when I was a student, hundreds of years ago, being accepted by the rest of the group/class was hugely important, so I can imagine being bulldozed into agreeing to do something like sitting on the floor.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Sitting on the floor, maybe. Lying to get someone in trouble? Absolutely not. Even 5 year olds know lying to harm others is wrong.

            1. fposte*

              If they kind of hate the OP and kind of love the ringleaders, it’s pretty easy (I mean, people know hurting others is wrong and we all know about the Milgram experiment). But I don’t think we really know if it was the whole group–that’s just the OP reporting on the advisor’s comments, so it could have been a student or two claiming they speak for the group and the OP wouldn’t necessarily know.

              1. LQ*

                Depending on the group dynamics (like if they are all a cohort who has to go through all their classes together in college) and you have the loudest person speaking up about this other people just feeling like it is easier to let them get by with it than to speak up and get shunned for possibly years. Especially if they’ve been told things like the friends you make in college are the best and they do everything blahblah. So you put those social pressures, plus not really knowing how to speak up, plus knowing the internship is going to end in a few days anyway plus the college is going to be years more (and forever!) I can absolutely see people letting it happen.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  this is my co-op board: “Depending on the group dynamics (like if they are all a cohort who has to go through all their classes together in college) and you have the loudest person speaking up about this other people just feeling like it is easier to let them get by with it than to speak up and get shunned for possibly years.”

                2. Kelly L.*

                  I’ve seen it happen as an adult in community organizations. I was in one group that got swept up in something weird every few years. A few people would start the charge, suddenly everyone would think this issue was a Huge Deal for a few months and fight like cats and dogs, and then a few months later, everybody kind of had an emotional hangover and was like “…What just happened?” And after every crusade, the group was smaller, until there were like five people left in it.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              Right (and I didn’t even act like that in middle school). My mind is boggled that people old enough to have internships would behave like this.

              1. Lily Rowan*

                Oh, I’ve had it happen in adult ed. I mean, not that we got the person in trouble, but my training group decided we HATED one instructor, and there was nothing she could do to get us back. I’m sure she’s lovely and a great trainer! But something went awry in one session, and that was the end of it. Our group was too well-bonded, and just turned on her.

          2. Jeanne*

            I can too. And I would think “ugh, I can’t believe we had to sit on the floor.” I would not think “How can I ruin her reputation?” These kids are extreme.

      2. ted mosby*

        I’m guessing the other sites didn’t give any real work and had better snacks, and this whole group decided they were being wronged. Just a guess.

        1. Mephyle*

          Or, from the further information given by the OP in comments, the other sites had better prayer circles.

      3. videogamePrincess*

        Having just graduated from college, I can confirm that this would happen, largely because one person pressured her peers into joining.

      4. Celtic Leigh*

        As the OP, there were two in the group for the week. The previous group at three and finished their assignment. I received on their site instructor review 28 out of 30 possible fives (exceeded expectations) & and the other two were fours. As I noted in the original letter this is my third year as a site supervisor and were numbers #9 & #10…. With no complaints ever. I would also like to add they did not like any of the work they were expected to do. And one of the follow up letters that was sent was complaining that they felt being asked to do things outside of their scope of practice ….Such as get weekend sessions prepared for the weekend staff and preparing notes and reports for senior staff…. Is “unreasonable”….so this is something required by my position.

        1. fposte*

          So the whole problem group is just two people, Miss Priss and her friend? Then cheer that they’re out of your hair, withdraw from the internship program in future, and wipe the event from your memory. I can understand how shocking something like this is when you encounter it, but it really doesn’t reflect badly on you in the slightest.

    2. Beezus*

      The entire point of an internship program is to get students experience in their chosen field and general experience with workplace norms. This internship program has a teaching opportunity on what to do when you don’t like your boss, and they’re letting students complete the program with the belief that it’s acceptable to sabotage said boss by reaching out to the boss’s network and saying bad things, and that if you do that, there will be no consequences to you and you’ll simply be reassigned to a place where you don’t have to work with the boss anymore. Wow. They’re really doing their students a HUGE disservice.

      I can see one bad egg in academia allowing this to happen, but if the OP goes over that person’s head and the school backs the advisor up, I would burn that bridge with fire and let my industry contacts know not to work with that school’s internship program, either. That is utterly unacceptable.

      1. TootsNYC*

        This is what I was going to come to say. I might personally go back to the school and ask to meet with the advisor and the advisor’s supervisor, as a condition of our company even -considering- to continue with this internship program.

        And make Beezus’s (and my) point: “By not reacting to this properly, you are cheating your students out of learning how work works. And if you can’t provide that training to your students, either in advance or in an after-the-fact situation like this–and you will actively sabotage any of our attempts to provide that to your students instead of working with us–it’s simply not worth our while to continue, because together we aren’t accomplishing the goal of the internship.”

        1. Artemesia*

          Excellent point. A big part of an internship is learning how the working world works. This is so not it. I am assuming these are college interns; if high schoolers, even worse that the teacher would behave like this.

        2. Chinook*

          “This is what I was going to come to say. I might personally go back to the school and ask to meet with the advisor and the advisor’s supervisor, as a condition of our company even -considering- to continue with this internship program. ”

          This 100%. The bad apple in the program may be the instructor, not the program as a whole. The school deserves the chance to save a participating worksite. But, if they back the instructor and students, burn that bridge with gasoline and feel free to explain why to anyone who asks why you no longer have interns from that program.

    3. AnonInSC*

      Exactly. I’ve been on both sides – the academic and the person supervising students in my non-academic workplace. It should be an immediate fail for that student. And I’d be having a stern conversation with the academic supervisor, followed with speaking to overall director of the program about why my workplace will not accept students until the issue is resolved. In my field, there are way more students in need of an internship than internships available. So I would have leverage. Regardless – there’s no need to deal with that.

      1. AnonInSC*

        And from the academic side, I assure you I would have been horrified to hear about the actions of the student. Allowing that to happen with no consequences really damages the reputation of the entire program.

    4. chocolate lover*

      I know it’s the least of the comments made, but I find myself baffled over the hugging thing. I’d be hard-pressed not to laugh at someone who brought that to my attention as unprofessional or inappropriate behavior.

      I work in a similar role with students, and none of the things mentioned would convince me to pull a student from a site. We don’t just let them pack up and leave without trying to address issues (this has been mentioned in other comments here as well), and certainly not for these things. As others have mentioned, and I actually had a similar conversation with my husband last night, who asked “why do you think you have to explain some of these things?” we’re educators. It is our responsibility to educate students on professional conventions and norms, and help develop productive means of addressing and managing workplace issues. Which is not to say we always get it right either, but I’m baffled that an advisor would respond (or not respond) the way they did.

      1. Karowen*

        Maybe the students are from someplace like Bob Jones, where touching the opposite sex is a no-no.

        1. Anna*

          I think it’s more likely that ONE student found it inappropriate or at least viewed it as a point of entry to criticize the OP.

        2. Chinook*

          “Maybe the students are from someplace like Bob Jones, where touching the opposite sex is a no-no.”

          But then it needs to be explained by the supervisor that, while their religious teachings are “no-touch”, other cultures have different expectations about personal body space and that there are professional ways to re-establish your boundaries. Part of being a “religious person” (whatever that means) who is out in the world is learning how to balance your interactions with others.

        3. RKB*

          Honestly, they don’t have to be super religious to have this view point. I currently have a sister in high school and I remember high school myself – territorialism and jealousy mixed with teenage hormones makes every “HE LOOKED AT MY GIRLFRIEND” situation escalate. They may have had a problem with OP and tacked that on because to them it was an egregious offence, one that causes the rumour mill to spin in the halls. This carries into college – at least, in my experience it does.

          This is a little OT because I was a youth counsellor for awhile, but the media has terrible depictions of what healthy couples and healthy relationships should look like, and a lot of kids don’t really get that. They think over-the-top passion is exactly what love is. They don’t realize it often equates to over-the-top possessiveness, too.

          1. Observer*

            I get that. But, in that case, it’s on the advisor to explain that this is not how things work in the world. It’s OK if you don’t want anyone to touch you, or you don’t want to touch others (and it doesn’t make a difference if it’s for religious reasons or not.) But, you don’t get to dictate whether others touch or not.

  5. So Very Anonymous*

    #1: I don’t think that you wanting to remove yourself from the internship program is, or has to be, vengeful. The intern who emailed your contacts was way out of line, and it sounds like the group in general has been poorly managed by the course advisor. Actions have consequences, and it sounds like the students and the course advisor may need to learn that this kind of behavior can lead to the loss of a host site. You’re not vengefully smiting them (except maybe in your mind ;) ), you’re calmly removing yourself from a program after experiencing poor management on the advisor’s part.

    Also, is there the possibility that your business contacts are going to take that student’s emails as a reflection on the student’s lack of professionalism, rather than a knock on your reputation? Because if I got an email like that, that would be my first thought.

    1. Artemesia*

      Me too. But mud sticks and situations like this don’t add any luster to the OP’s reputation even when these interns are viewed as horror shows. . At best she will be known as someone who failed to develop a good relationship with interns i.e. lacks people skills unfair though that may well be. It sounds like a little nest of ‘mean girls’ and groupthink run amuck.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The OP does refer to one as a woman … but sure, it’s a valid point. (That said, I’d rather we use a light touch with fellow commenters about this kind of thing. Thank you!)

        2. Artemesia*

          I ‘ inferred’ this because the OP referenced the student who did the most egregious thing as ‘her’.

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        “…mud sticks and situations like this don’t add any luster to the OP’s reputation … At best she will be known as someone who failed to develop a good relationship with interns i.e. lacks people skills…”

        I don’t see this at all. Presumably the OP has a satisfactory record at work, other than this incident – at least, we have nothing to suggest she does not. If the OP has a consistent reputation for problems with interns over the three years she’s been doing this, maybe; as a one off, with at least one concrete example of highly unethical behaviour by the interns, no.

        This isn’t a matter of ‘punish your students – or else’, it’s a matter of raising concern over the school’s failure to address alleged unprofessional behaviour by its students. That suggests the possibility of further problems in the future. If the students’ and advisor’s behaviour is as outlined and is not addressed, then withdrawing from the internship programme is an entirely reasonable response which, it seems to me, is very unlikely to reflect badly on the OP.

        1. Artemesia*

          I just disagree. Controversies always leave questions in people’s minds. It is one of the ugly things about sexual harassment for example. Even when the victim is completely appropriate and ‘innocent’ being involved in this kind of conflict creates reputational problems. The victim becomes ‘too much trouble’ or ‘oversensitive’; it is one of the reasons women of my generation just sucked it up and put up with it; there was rarely a winning professional play if you were in that situation. Things are better now but getting involved in a controversy like that is not helpful to one’s career. This is not as big a deal, but having a blow up like this with a group of students attacking you will not leave you unscathed. You can’t unring the bell. Dropping this school will not leave you with a reputation of being ‘vengeful’ but with a reputation for having common sense.

          1. Anna*

            I think that would be a really bizarre reaction and it’s not likely to be the kind of thing that sticks in the head of anyone except in the most casual “this weird thing happened once” way.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        ” At best she will be known as someone who failed to develop a good relationship with interns i.e. lacks people skills unfair though that may well be. ”

        Reputation with who though? The course advisor? Meh, no big loss there.

        1. fposte*

          If I got a random email like that from somebody’s intern, it’s so nuts that it wouldn’t occur to me to hold it against my contact. It really wouldn’t make me reconsider the people skills of anybody but the crazy emailer.

              1. Prismatic Professional*

                fposte – you owe me a new keyboard! :-p One of my coworkers stuck her head in to see why I was choking and if I was ok (I am). :-p

              2. Wendy Darling*

                I’m glad the end of the book didn’t happen to him, I was worried for a minute there.

    2. anonanonanon*

      I honestly don’t even know how I’d respond if I received such an email. So bizarre.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’m curious if the intern used their own e-mail account. I guess they must have but what on earth did they hope to gain by sending “this person is mean and bad” e-mails to their host’s business contacts? If I had received an e-mail like that, I probably would have sent one to my contact… that must have happened because otherwise, how could you find out? I would then also add that intern’s name to a “do not hire” list. That intern has poisoned the well, if they were ever hoping to get a job at those other companies. Also, I hope that one day they wake up and realise how completely out of line this was. I remember there was a thread once (I think in a Friday open) about things people did in their first jobs that they now regretted. I can see a “once, when I was an intern…”

    3. Naomi*

      I mean, that probably is how OP’s business contacts are going to react–I suspect the student’s emails are just going to come off as whiny and immature. But the point isn’t whether OP’s reputation has actually been damaged; it’s that the student clearly intended to sabotage OP’s reputation, which the advisor should have taken more seriously.

    4. Celtic Leigh*

      We discussed this & the consensus is our program manager and director both feel:
      1. the situation should have been brought to my attention day 1 per the school’s conflict resolution guidelines,
      2. week #2 students’ work was remarkably lower quality and perhaps they both felt they would suffer by comparison
      3. WE are doing the school a great favor for a week …. Not the other way around
      Since it’s unclear what the higher ups may think, they both feel just “sit on it for now” & when the next batch rolls around be “otherwise previously committed” :)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think that’s good, but I would also tell the school why you’re opting out.

      2. AF*

        Sorry that this is a late reply, but please keep us updated! (And I agree that you should all absolutely tell the school and make them resolve the situation before letting any of their interns come to your company)

  6. Michelle*

    As someone with a disability I have learned that being as smooth as possible is, unfortunately, very important. Its not usually the wheelchair that people mind, but rather not having clear cues on how to react. Disabilities can make people uncomfortable and they can unconsciously decide they like you less for it. I would practice with the wheelchair as much as possible, manual wheelchairs are actually easier to control than electric. Ideally you won’t need to use it so much you work up a sweat, look into disabled transportation options so that you arrive at the interview very fresh rather than having to travel a distance. Make sure to dress in clothes that work with wheelchairs – some suits don’t allow for enough arm maneuverability.

    In general try to acknowledge it as little as possible. Again people tend not to care about the wheelchair, just about having to talk about it. New wheelchair users tend to be nervous about it but try to fake it til you make it on it “being an extension of you”.

    I promise there is a quick learning curve for wheelchairs and you will be great at our soon. Good luck!

    1. Beezus*

      That’s a really great point about making sure the interview outfit is wheelchair-friendly!

    2. Wheelchair OP*

      Oh my goodness, clothes! I’m so glad you mentioned that. I haven’t tried on work-related clothes in relation to my wheelchair. I had idly thought about having some of my hems let out because I saw a clip that talked about Patrck Stewart being fitted for his very sharp suits as Professor X and he said he had to be careful when walking around the set because his hems were too long when standing. But I never thought about having room to move my arms freely. I’m just glad it’s not winter anymore because getting in and out of my coat, etc. was such a hassle.

      1. librarygirl*

        A friend of friend who is wheelchair bound recommends these two sites for work appropriate, wheelchair friendly clothes. IZ- which is more fashionable and trendy. She loves their blazers, says they are cut to look better on those in a chair and don’t bunch up in the back.

        Silvert’s – which she says is not as trendy but sometimes she finds decent causal wear and the occasional cute top.

        I should note her chair is her only option so these may not be a perfect match to you but I thought you might find the information useful.

        1. OhNo*

          FYI – the phrase “wheelchair bound” is often considered offensive by many wheelchair users, myself included. “Wheelchair user” is a good substitute.

          1. librarygirl*

            I’m so sorry. She uses it herself, along with a host of other not so PC terms about her disabilities,
            I never even thought about it.
            Thank you for letting me know.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #1 You are not being vengeful because of the students. You are withdrawing support because the acedemic program is refusing to take responsibility for student behavior. That is a basic requirement for any internship program.

    1. Random Lurker*

      +1. I would focus less on the student behavior, and more on that the advisor did not inform you of information in a timely fashion, nor was willing to help you work towards a satisfactory resolution. THAT is the problem.

      I hate dealing with interns because there is a greater potential for unprofessional behavior. They are young, they have little to no experience in a professional environment, and often have very unrealistic expectations of what the working world is like. Part of being in an intern program is guiding them through how to behave professionally (I personally don’t have the patience). If the program isn’t going to provide you the tools and support you need to curb bad behavior and help these students develop into assets for your company, I think that’s plenty good reason to withdraw from future participation.

      1. AnonyMeow*

        The point about focusing on the advisor’s behavior is spot-on. I did something unprofessional that still makes me cringe during one of my school-sponsored internships, and the advisor was quick to call me out on the behavior. In retrospect, she really modeled a great manager behavior there–she pointed out I did something that doesn’t fly, told me calmly why that doesn’t, and after I apologized, treated me with no lasting grudge. That was an embarrassing but instructional moment for me. And the students in the letter missed out on this moment, so the onus is really on the advisor.

        I’d approach the advisor from the point of view of “unless we can be sure we are on the same page about what students should learn from this internship program, I don’t think it makes sense for our company to stay in this program.”

      2. Observer*

        I think this is a very important point. A single bad experience with students is one thing. But when the supervisor mishandles it, that’s another issue altogether. And given the attitude displayed, it’s probably going be a continuing problem. Which makes the whole program not terribly useful.

    2. TootsNYC*

      and because the internship program is refusing to achieve the goal of the program: to get students ready for the work world. This advisor has a perfect opportunity and is refusing.

      If your company wants to have interns, I’m sure there are several other institutions of higher learning whose advisors will focus on the goal with you.

    3. Anon-for-this college educator*

      Caveat: what I am about to say does not make the way the advisor handled it ok. This is a Big Deal and OP should feel that it is being taken seriously.

      That being said, most contracts for internship type opportunities state that the school takes very limited responsibility for student behavior. We don’t guarantee they will behave, we guarantee that they will be told to behave and that there will be consequences on our end if they don’t. Even though they didn’t tell OP, there’s a good chance in a reasonable program that the students (at least the one who contacted the business contacts) got a stern “what were you thinking” conversation along with other consequences that the OP wouldn’t be looped in on. For legal and reputation reasons, they may only tell someone in the OP’s position “it’s being taken care of” even if they plan to drop the hammer on the student. It’s unlikely that the program will do anything that sounds like admitting fault unless it’s a tiny school without a legal department (unlikely). I agree with Random Lurker-focus on the advisor behavior. The school isn’t responsible for what the students did, they are. They’re removed from your site. Now your focus is on a secondary issue, which is whether you trust this program and this advisor anymore.

      1. Anna*

        Except it doesn’t sound like that at all. It sounds like the advisor sided with the student(s). If you’re an advisor and you’re told that one of your students did something incredibly egregious, you don’t say, “I find that hard to believe” and then have a stern talk with the offender. You want to make sure the site feels reassured the egregious behavior was addressed and the OP doesn’t feel reassured at all. The advisor didn’t even tell the OP it was being taken care of. So, no, this was a complete fail on the side of the college.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep. This is a large part of the problem. There’s always a bad intern once in a while, but this advisor is dealing with it badly.

        2. Anon-for-this college educator*

          Oh, the advisor definitely handled it poorly. As I said, the OP should have been assured it was taken seriously, and that didn’t happen. My point is that even it was handled well except for the advisor’s response, it’s not likely that the OP would be told that. Keep in mind that the advisor is expected to side with the students, and is rarely the only person involved in discipline (I’ve actually never seen an advisor who was, but I get the impression the one the OP worked with is in a different role than what I’m familiar with). They failed because “I’ll find out what happened immediately and get back to you” was the appropriate response whether they believed OP or not.

          1. Edward Rooney*

            One of my bosses got scolded by HR for firing his intern that was sleeping on his desk multiple times (beyond some other issues). He was told he had no authority to fire the person because they were part of a program, blah blah blah.

          2. AF*

            But why should OP’s company ever trust this program again? It makes it sound like the school is in charge here, which they are not. I would never trust the advisor ever again. And not all students are bad, so it does a disservice to the good students at this school when the bad ones are allowed to be bad, and a potential internship connection is cut off. As the OP said, the company is doing the school a favor.

      2. Observer*

        Actually, the behavior that the OP describes does NOT sound like like they were taking it at all seriously. They complained to the OP about things that should have been buried on the spot. And they denied that the student had done something she clearly had done.

        I cannot believe that any competent lawyer would advise them to behave that way. It’s one thing to say “Well, you did know going in that some students don’t behave, but we will take this most seriously and make sure there are consequences.” It’s another to legitimate indefensible behavior, and to deny that something happened. That’s not only a recipe for getting sued, but for losing the case.

  8. CurrentlyAtWork*

    Couldn’t he just re-submit his cover-letter saying that he made a mistake when he submitted the first one?

    Of course that would not be an ideal solution and it would’ve been better if he only submitted the letter after he had it reviewed.

    1. New Bee*

      I think if someone did that I’d open them side by side, because I’d wonder whether it was a typo, for the wrong job, etc. Seeing a completely different letter would strike me as odd, and my mind didn’t go there at first, but I could see others thinking she’d had someone else write the second letter. Too risky.

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        And you don’t really want to start an application process by saying you made a major mistake…

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Yes, I’d only send a new version of a resume or cover letter if the problem with the first ones were a mistake with my contact information that would keep the employers from being able to contact me.

    2. Jaydee*

      A cover letter doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be good enough at describing you to interest the employer in learning more through an interview. But it’s a business letter, not an academic exercise in writing a business letter. However, it should be as close to error-free as humanly possible. So I think any resending of the letter will look very odd.

      1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

        There’s also the question of the peer review. It’s only one person’s opinion that the second was better…

        1. TootsNYC*

          Well, the OP thinks it was better

          But I think that the OP should be content with the letter she sent. She felt good about it–I hope she doesn’t lose sight of that.

          Cover letters, when well written, have power, but they’re not everything. The best cover letter I’ve ever written, according to AAM standards, didn’t get me an interview.
          But I’ve gotten interviews galore when my cover letter was pretty cursory, because my resumé was good.

          A good-but-not-stellar cover letter isn’t really a point against. It’s just an opportunity missed (a neutral when you might have been able to have a plus), but it’s definitely not a negative.

          Sending a new cover letter -would- be a negative.

    3. Allison*

      I did this once, it didn’t end well. I send in application materials, they e-mailed me back asking to set up an interview, I replied with my availability AND THEN realized I’d made a mistake on the cover letter and submitted a new one with the information corrected. They never got back to me. These people had seen my resume, they liked what they saw, they were willing to have a conversation, but submitting corrected materials and pointing out a mistake I made on the first cover letter made them change their minds immediately.

      So yeah, I don’t recommend it.

      1. Jeanne*

        It’s possible they didn’t notice the mistake until you pointed it out. Oops. I agree OP should let it go.

    4. fposte*

      Unless you do it within about an hour, I’m not going to look at the second one anyway because I’ll have already sent the first one forward into the process.

  9. Chris*

    #1, I think you’re entirely justified in withdrawing from the program. But I also think it’s important that you explain precisely why you’re doing this to the people in question. If you just bail, it might actually appear more negative against you. “He/she couldn’t hack it with the students, then dropped out”. Instead, explain to the adviser, or even better, as Alison suggested, their supervisor, explaining the details and the exact reason for it.

    Heck, even if it doesn’t resolve anything with you, maybe the next poor person stuck with that adviser might have an easier time of it.

    1. Kelly L.*

      Honestly, I’m not sure who it would appear negative to. OP’s contacts who received the nastygram are going to think badly of the sender, not the OP. OP’s own co-workers presumably know her, and know what kind of supervisor she really is. As for the advisor at the school, it kind of doesn’t really matter if she thinks OP can’t “hack it.” OP won’t be having interns from there again and won’t be working with her again, and if the advisor doesn’t realize the students are out of line and refuses to believe the contact-theft thing, there’s little that OP can do about it.

      And sometimes internship sites do remove themselves from these affiliations. It’s not all that unusual, IMO, and isn’t always for acrimonious reasons–sometimes it’s just that there won’t be anyone available to supervise anymore, or other reasons in that vein.

  10. Dangerfield*

    #4, I know firsthand how expensive electric wheelchairs are to buy, but is it possible for you to hire one for a day long interview like that? I can imagine that the stress and physical strain of dealing with a manual wheelchair you aren’t accustomed to will make that quite tiring.

    1. ReanaZ*

      Isn’t it quite a bit of work to learn to smoothly control an electronic wheelchair, though? Like the difference between riding a bicycle and a moped. Most of the skills transfer, but you can’t necessarily make the switch smoothly without additional practice and training. Job interview is probably not a great first trial.

      1. Dangerfield*

        Personally I didn’t find that – I would say I had it down within fifteen minutes or so. I was pretty young though. I might struggle more now without the benefit of teenage brain elasticity!

    2. Wheelchair OP*

      This is a good idea and I will check around. I live in a rural area, though, and am not sure what medical supply places there are here (I had to buy my wheelchair in a city an hour away). We do have medical transport vans and if I know about the job interview with sufficient lead time (3-5 days, depending on their current scheduling needs) I can arrange one of them.

  11. Mookie*

    By the way, I don’t qualify for an electric wheelchair through insurance and they are too expensive for me to buy right now.

    This is so absurd that I’m going to guess LW4 lives in the US, where for many people access to regular, reliable, high quality health and medical care is a catch-22: in order to survive, LW4 has to work; in order to work, she needs medical equipment she doesn’t currently have. But as we can’t expect insurance companies to exercise logic when their bottom line is threatened, this gap–between what she needs in order to function and what she’s got currently–this gap that can wiped out quite readily, doesn’t just automatically “qualify” her. It’s almost like the bootstrap-shaped, Heritage Foundation dystopia in which we find ourselves wants most of us to fail! All the while telling us the real problem is that we lack initiative and gumption! Imagine that!

    1. Mookie*

      I mean, there’s probably no doubt she wouldn’t survive without an electric wheelchair, but why should she have to spend the bulk of her days at work unnecessarily uncomfortable, distracted, and anxious? Why can’t a doctor prescribe her a temporary chair? Why do petty, malicious policies like this exist in the first place? It’s so nihilistic to me, this attitude.

      1. Wheelchair OP*

        I understand where you’re coming from. Believe me, I’ve made exactly the same rant.

      2. fposte*

        If the OP hasn’t done that, that’s obviously an important step to take, but a doctor prescribing the chair doesn’t mean that insurance, NHS, or whoever has to pay for it.

    2. Colette*

      I’m not in the US, but I doubt there is anywhere in the world that covers electric wheelchairs on request, which means every program has thresholds.

      1. fposte*

        Yup, and I’m seeing that in the UK it often takes a long time (eight months is reported in one case) to get an assessment of the need; the OP also might not meet the standard there either, since at least one county won’t supply them to people who are at all ambulatory and in fact didn’t supply a *manual* wheelchair to somebody because he was still ambulatory in his home.

        1. Wheelchair OP*

          Yes, that’s happened to me as well. I had to buy both my walker and my wheelchair. I am able to get around the house without either device on good days. But when I hit my limit of exhaustion/pain, it’s sudden and I need a mobility device right then. But apparently, that’s not enough of a reason for insurance to pay for anything, she said with an eye roll.

          My doctor is hesitant about my working, although I think he would write a prescription if I asked. He says that the majority of people in my position are on disability. (For those not in the US, most people call government Social Security payments for disability as “disability.” It takes several years to get approved for it but, if you do, you get a small stipend a month and qualify for Medicaid, which is a very good insurance (but probably still doesn’t pay for electric wheelchairs without permanent need)). He is afraid that if I get hired and then quit because it’s too much, then I will have to start the disability process over again and he doesn’t want me to have to spend two more years waiting for it to kick in. (I will just say in advance that I agree with every feeling of outrage about the issue of health insurance and disability in this country.)

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, it sucks–but what I’m saying is that it’s not necessarily better outside of the country either, unfortunately, when it comes to wheelchair provision. What I’m seeing is a lot of talk about buying off of eBay :-(.

          2. Michelenyc*

            My Step Dad just finished the whole disability process and his doctor recommended that he hire a lawyer to speed up the process. It still took quite awhile but once approved he got all of the back disability payments.

            1. Wheelchair OP*

              I did get a lawyer right away but they say it doesn’t speed up the process on Social Security’s end. They said what speeds it up is that they get copies of any forms the applicant gets and will call the applicant to explain them and will stay on top of them until they are filled out. Most of the forms have deadlines attached to them and if you return them in that time frame, you are booted out of the Social Security queue and have to re-apply. My lawyer’s office expects the hearing to be sometime between June and August. Of course, I have no idea how long it takes the judge to rule.

          3. Sunshine Brite*

            If I’m remembering right, at least in my state if your counted assets are under $2000 you could be both on MA and Social Security and work. If you make over a certain threshold then you’d have a spenddown for something like 40% of your total income. I’d check with your county what the financial limits are in your area.

            1. Wheelchair OP*

              Yes, I can do that here but only if I find the job after I qualify for Social Security. Apparently, if I do a lick of work between now and when I qualify, I’m booted from the queue and will have to reapply if I’m no longer working. However, if I find a job first, I’d rather have it.

              Or are you talking about SSI, where if you are destitute they give you a tiny stipend each month during your Social Security application process? That I did not qualify for since we had savings, a vehicle, etc.

              1. OhNo*

                Sunshine Brite is referencing SSI – that’s the one with the $2k asset limit (which is stupid, for the record). You can work while you apply for SSI, as long as you report all your earnings, make less than their income limit, and don’t have more than 2k worth of assets.

                SSDI, aka Social Security Disability payments, have an different set of rules. I’m guessing that’s the one you’re going for?

                1. Wheelchair OP*

                  Yes, SSDI. I don’t qualify for SSI since my husband has (thankfully!) been working and we had enough savings to put us over the threshold.

          4. ssa atty*

            Social Security lawyer here – you won’t have to start over if you start a job and have to quit for medical reasons within 3 months (called an “unsuccessful work attempt”) or if you go back to work part time and earn less than a threshold that changes every year. Also, even if you do find a full time job that you can be successful at, you can get what’s called a “closed period” of disability from the time that you were out of work due to disability, so long as it’s been over a year. Your local social security office, or your lawyer if you have one, should be able to tell you more about this. Good luck to you.

            1. Wheelchair OP*

              Ah, thanks, I was unclear myself.

              I would like to say thank you, ssa atty, for the work you do. I know that my lawyer won’t get paid until I get the back pay after I qualify (or never, if I don’t qualify). I doubt many people realize you’re working unpaid. So thanks. I know I’d be pulling my hair out in frustration if it weren’t for my attorney.

              1. ssa atty*

                Glad to help.

                This may be far more than you want to know, but the regulations about the interactions between work attempts and disability claims can be found by googling “SSR 05-2”

                Also, once you know which judge you’ve been assigned, you can look up their public stats and comments from other applicants at disability judges dot com

          5. Jeanne*

            He’s probably right. But it’s a personal decision. How important is it to you to have a job? Do you think you can handle it? With my condition I got on disability automatically but staying on it is tough too.

    3. Xarcady*

      It’s pretty hard to get a power chair through an insurance company in the US. If you can walk at all, if you can easily use a manual chair–you are going to have a very, very hard time proving that you *need* a power chair. And even if you can prove that you need one, insurance may only cover a certain dollar amount towards the chair, or a certain percentage of the cost.

      A family member uses a power chair. Part of the cost is paid by his parents’ insurance, part by Medicaid, part by a charity associated with the insurance company, and part by his parents.

      1. sam*

        And this is so screwy, because (using an example cited above) someone with a condition like lupus might be mobile for small stretches of time, but the general muscle fatigue and fully-body exhaustion that accompany such a condition would (I would think) make maneuvering a manual wheelchair extremely difficult, whereas someone who has lost complete use of their legs through, say, an an accident, but has a fully functioning upper body, might have a much easier time just physically maneuvering a manual wheelchair.

        When my mom got ill and ended up needing a wheelchair, I guess we were “lucky” that we could just afford to pay for one (a manual one, that we pushed her everywhere in – she wasn’t pushing herself anywhere).

    4. Florida*

      Healthcare in America (or any country) is far from perfect, but that doesn’t help OP. Maybe we should focus on suggestions and experiences that might help OP with their situation.

    5. Iain Clarke*

      As this blog / comments section is meant to offer helpful advice / constructive criticism to the OPs, can I read your comment as suggesting the OP emigrate?

      That sounds quite extreme…

  12. Myrin*

    I’m just trying to imagine having someone I’ve never heard of before emailing me out of the blue one day to tell me “[Business contact/OP] is a huge meanie!1!!”. I presumably already know OP and have an opinion about her and don’t need some random person to air their grief to me – it would definitely make me look unfavourably on them, not the OP. What are some people even thinking (especially in terms of their own importance, apparently)?

    1. FD*

      Yeah, definitely. I’d be totally unimpressed.

      And I’d probably remember the weird person who thought it was normal.

    2. LQ*

      Yeah, unless I already don’t like the OP I’m going to think the emailer is being really inappropriate and weird. (So weird.) It wouldn’t change my mind of them. Maybe make me go, wow they put up with this emailer as an intern. A random out of nowhere email from someone I hadn’t met won’t make me change my opinion of a business contact I presumably have known for a bit.

    3. HRish Dude*

      Clearly at least one person who received it thought it was weird enough to let the OP know, too.

      1. Bleu*

        Oh yeah. I’ve been in the workforce 25 years now and have never received such an email. And I can recall only 1 or 2 rude emails over that entire time — and that was in the early 1990s, when most people were testing how to use email professionally. The student has no idea how much that email will stick out and be remembered forever — and for all the worst reasons (having nothing to do with OP).

      2. Jeanne*

        I definitely would have made a phone call. That email would be somewhere between really odd and really creepy.

    4. BethRA*

      I certainly wouldn’t take the sender’s word for it that Op is a Great Big Meanie, but I might wonder about how an intern got hold of my contact info. And I can tell you for a fact that if one of our interns sent a nastygram to people on our Board or to committee members (we’re a nonprofit), we’d hear about it.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – The school’s responsibility is to prepare these students for the working world, and they have utterly failed in this case. You’re well within bounds to contact the advisors supervisor, but also drop the program. When they take an intern’s complaints at face value instead of teaching them to work with you to resolve any conflicts, they’d abdicating their responsibility. When they don’t take disciplinary action on something as serious as what the intern did when she stole a contact and emailed him, they’re abdicating their responsibility. This program would be on very, very thin ice with me after what just happened.

    #4 – I feel you! I was temporarily in a manual wheelchair last year and it was so hard! I had such a hard time on ramps of any steepness, getting over metal door frames, and even getting into the bathroom (I discovered that some handicapped stalls were not up to code and couldn’t accommodate a wheelchair!). And I was also tired and sweaty.

    I think it’s absolutely fine to say to people “ooof! I’m new at this!” Also maybe don’t schedule more than a couple interviews in a day so you don’t wear yourself out too much. I think you’ll get better and stronger with it in time, but manual wheelchairs are definitely not easy. I would have never realized how hard until I was in one myself. :/ Good luck to you!

    1. nani1978*

      I was a federal employee (STEP) when I needed a temporary wheelchair 7 years ago and it was also a brutal experience. My boss was very sweet to help push me along sometimes, but it was hard for both of us, especially when we discovered the doors in our federal building were not ADA compliant. WOMP WOMP.

      A classmate made a remark while I was using crutches during the same time frame that really ticked me off at the time (I was breathless and a door had just closed in front of me) but gave me the idea for a series of comebacks that freed up some mental space for me to carry on taking care of myself. He simply said that I wasn’t a pro at it. Oh did I fume about that! To myself, I snarled, “No, I’m keeping it amateur status for the Olympics!” And from then on, I would say it out loud if people commented. Or if I made a little slip while walking or wheeling, I would cheer myself up, “That’s bronze at best, come on, go for gold.” It really helped me. Good luck OP #4!

      1. sam*

        I have to say, the two best educational experiences I got on ADA compliance had nothing to do with going to law school, but were
        – working in a retail store that was actually quite obsessed with such things – we would actually pull out a tape measure regularly to make sure that our various movable display cases had enough clearance for wheelchairs to fit through. To this day, I notice immediately when there is a public space that is clearly too narrow for a wheelchair. In fact, in my office there is a really narrow corridor that I simply refer to as our “ADA-non-compliant hallway” (we are in a 100-year old landmarked building, so some of this can’t be helped. in fact, if I was in a wheelchair, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t actually get to my office because of a weird corner I’d have to navigate).
        – when my mom was in a wheelchair for a while. THAT was quite an enlightening experience. Everything from curb cuts that might as well have been potholes to the realization that there are steps! everywhere! And the amazing rudeness of people (if you’re going to rudely stare at someone who is clearly sick and dying, the least you could do is hold the door open while you do it instead of letting it slam in our faces when we’re all of 1 foot behind you).

  14. Dangerously Cheezy*

    #4: I would avoid making any comment that you are new to the wheelchair… my concern is that by bringing it up that you’ll open up a conversation about why you are in the wheelchair and how permanent the situation is, it is just information you don’t want them factoring into the hire decision.

    I personally wouldn’t think less of anyone in a chair that was a bit clumsy. You just need to focus on practicing moving the wheelchair in a variety of environments/surfaces. It may even be a good idea to have a friend come to make sure your trip from the car to building is stress (and sweat) free for the interview.

  15. NDQ*

    #4, When you know an interview is scheduled, call the company to talk with its ADA Coordinator. That person will make sure the interview location is accessible. During the interview make sure you emphasize your qualifications not disability.

    Good luck!


    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      ADA Coordinators are only required of state or local government agencies that have 50 or more employees and (I believe) all Federal agencies. However, IME those are usually much more accommodating places to work for people who qualify for ADA accommodations. Not that small businesses can’t be accommodating or accessible, some are very good about it, but overall I find private businesses to be more inconsistent about it.

      1. Wheelchair OP*

        Right now I’m applying only at the local university because I know it’s large enough to have those policies (and I’m going to need FMLAfor future medical needs) so I need to be at a place that has to offer it because I can’t imagine interviewing at a mom and pop place in a brand new wheelchair, asking if I can get time off for health reasons; I’m sure they would be appalled at hiring me.

        1. sam*

          It’s not so much a public/private distinction, (although public employers are probably better at complying!), but that the ADA only applies to employers over a certain size (I think the limit is 15 employees). so those truly Mom and Pop places may not even be subject to the law.

          From a purely practical perspective though, the larger the employer, the more capable they are of complying, and the more likely they are to actually have programs/practices in place for accomodating these situations.

          (of course any employer of over 15 employees is *legally* required to make reasonable accomodations, but we’re talking realities on the ground, and in addition, even from a legal perspective, what is reasonable for a 20 person employer vs a 20,000 person employer may be very different things)

          1. Wheelchair OP*

            I’m sorry I was unclear. The university is the only place I know that hires in my skillset that is guaranteed to be large enough to have to comply. Most of the places around here where I could work are smaller. Not that they wouldn’t have the same policies, necessarily, but I’d have to ask them about it and I’d be afraid that by just asking, they’d move on to someone else. (This is based on a super rude comment I heard an employee make about someone who was on intermittent FMLA years ago. It’s possible no one thinks this but people who don’t have health issues can be remarkably hostile to those that do.)

  16. Melissa*

    #1- as to the advisor not coming to you with complaints: I had an internship that was not working. I told my advisor at the end of day 1 that this was not going to be a worthwhile experience. He told me to keep him in the loop, but felt the professional thing to do was to make it work. He and I talked constantly, but he was very firm that I handle the situation. When my on site supervisor pulled me out of one department that actually applied to my degree because, “in the real world, we work til 5.” He did talk to my site supervisor. That was a 10 minute talk that ended with him pulling me and pulling the department from the internship program.
    I want to hope that the advisor was encouraging the interns to talk to you about their issues. but as bad as my situation was, I can’t imagine cold emailing someone to complain about them.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      When I went to college, we had no internships. I remember having a discussion in class where someone asked why there wasn’t an internship programme and the head of the department said something along the lines of “what professional studio would want to deal with a student for a week? They’re too busy to be bothered.” Uh, OK. I then went to a different college for another programme and found out that everyone in their graphic design programme had not only had an internship, but it was a whole month. Some of them had had great experiences, one of them had gone to work for a top advertising agency and wound up spending the entire month cleaning out storerooms. I don’t know what the process was, but I hope that site was pulled from their list.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I was part of an industry organization’s internship program (they selected kids from lots of colleges and assigned them to participating organizations). When they discovered that one of us was assigned to filing, basically, and wasn’t doing much of substance or sitting in meetings, etc., they recruited a replacement company and moved him. And dropped the offending company from the program.

  17. Roscoe*

    I’ll be honest, something about #1 seems a bit off to me. One student stealing a contact off your desk? Sure, I can see that, and the kid should be punished. All of them lying about you with the same complaints? I mean that is a bit tougher to swallow for me. I know interns and employees aren’t the same. But I have to think if a bunch of lower waged hourly employees all had the same complaint about a manager, there would likely be something to it and people wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. Often how we perceive our actions and how others take it are very different. Trust me, I know. I’ve said some things at work that I thought were pretty innocent, and others didn’t take it that way at all. Is there even 1 intern that OP had a good relationship with that they could get some clarity from? I’ve worked with students before, and while there are usually some really vengeful ones, it would take a lot for the entire group to go along with something like that.

    1. Daisy*

      I don’t think it would take a lot for a group to go along with something- groups of humans has done a lot worse together than criticise a boss they didn’t like (it’s not clear that worst thing, the contact-stealing, was more than one person). It sounds to me that they just decided they don’t like her, or she was too strict, or something. A similar thing happened when I was at school- my English class whipped themselves up to complain about our teacher to the head of English (I wasn’t in agreement), and when she asked them what exactly the complaint was they had nothing except vague moans about not liking the way she taught.

      1. Rainy*

        My French teacher in high school was treated like this as well. She was kind of crabby during isolated incidents, but I never thought she was really as bad as school groupthink said she was.

        1. KR*

          I’ve had teachers like this. Everyone you meet will tell you that the teacher is terrible and mean and that they don’t like them, but it’s just based off a few stories and rumors and they’re actually completely fine.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I think almost all the other students in my grad program hated (or at least feared) the professor who taught Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis. She was very tough, but also very fair, and as understanding as any other professor (which to me means a very few chances to make up work, but no free passes). I liked her, although I think she could have been more encouraging and supportive with the students who were struggling without changing her policies.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            And I’ve been to college three times and only had two instructors I disliked. Both were actual jerks, but instead of complaining, I just put my head down and powered through the classes because I knew once I passed I never had to see them again. I did give a less than stellar evaluation to the second one–but I was polite about it and went through channels (the class evaluation form).

          3. Snazzy Hat*

            I had a World Civilizations professor who had a strict take-no-crap attitude in class (“Either stop talking or leave, and if you leave, don’t come back.”) and also lectured for just about the entire class time (we had recitations with TAs, so it was warranted). Lots of my classmates hated him.

            But he also knew his stuff, was head of the Philosophy department, and interjected weird references (Sgt Schultz, Lawrence Welk, calling Jesus of Nazareth “the late JC”) in his lectures and kept going without missing a beat. A few of my friends and I thought he was a fantastic professor.

    2. Nerfherder*

      It was probably just one busy-body who did the complaining. He/she probably implied that this is a complaint on behalf of the group.

    3. Seal*

      I have to respectfully disagree with your take on #1, because I’ve seen the this very thing happen with low-level employees. All it takes is one disgruntled employee or intern who is an expert manipulator to start stirring the pot. A few lies here, a few intentional misinterpretations there, and suddenly the whole group is on board. I learned the hard way that you need to stay on your toes and not ignore the signs of impending group-think, which is what I think the OP experienced. The program advisor here is no better than the interns; by dismissing such agregious behavior they’re simply enabling the ringleader.

      1. Been there*

        I’ve experienced this too. One person skilled at manipulation can turn an otherwise reasonable group of people into believing they are victims. Skilled storytellers, they will take a small point of disgruntlement and gradually wrap layers of story around it. They tend to believe their own stories, which makes them seem believable to others. And they are very hard to fire, because they are often well-liked and people don’t see what they are doing and are unlikely to make a complaint.

    4. blackcat*

      I haven’t seen it often, but I have occasionally seen one student be completely vengeful and awful to a particular teacher. They often couch their complaints in collective terms (“We all feel that way”) when they go and complain to the powers that be. If they’re a bully, I have seen groups of students go along with them. I’ve only seen this twice after teaching HUNDREDS of students. So I think it’s rare. In both cases, the followers ultimately apologized/recanted.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what I was thinking–or two or three close friends who drew people into their orbit. I’ve seen it in classes, and as you say, the followers do sometimes shake themselves awake afterwards and wonder what they did.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          We had that situation in an architectural first-year studio a couple of years ago. Three close friends formed the nucleus of a group that was making everyone in the studio uncomfortable. The professors noticed that the students weren’t speaking up as much as is typically customary in the studio setting, and they got other weird vibes from students, as well.

          The professors began to clue in to the fact that there was a bullying problem going, on but they weren’t sure the extent of it or who all was involved. They finally narrowed it down to the three girls, and on a field trip, when those girls left the charter bus, one of the professors asked the remaining students on the bus, “Okay, who’s the ring leader?” The students knew exactly what she was referring to, and all their stories came pouring out. One of the girls was the ring leader, the other girls followed her. They bullied and ridiculed anyone in the studio who crossed them, and the other students just tried to keep their heads down. The problem with architectural studio classes is that much of the students’ time in studio is after hours with no faculty in attendance. Once the professors figured out which student was the manipulative, power-seeking one, though, they were able to get a handle on it pretty quickly and salvage the remaining weeks of the semester for the students who’d been targeted.

      2. Roscoe*

        Thats why I’m feeling like there must be more to this. Did ALL of the students actually complain, or was it one student who framed it as all of them. I’m in no way trying to accuse the OP of something, but this story seems like there is some context that we don’t have.

        1. fposte*

          You’re talking like we’re a jury, though, and we’re not. The OP doesn’t have the full context either, and she couldn’t even condense her own full experience into a postable question.

          So, if you take the OP on good faith, as AAM requests in blog guidelines, what advice do you have for her?

        2. Kelly L.*

          Roscoe, I kind of feel like there’s a proxy argument about something else going on here, maybe related to your aforementioned personal experiences in a different type of situation.

        3. Been there*

          The context may be that the OP set expectations for the ringleader that the ringleader did not like. Pissed off, the ringleader then started working to build a case against the OP. The case, as others have noted, was ludicrous… hugging? sitting on the floor?

        4. insert witty name here*

          Does it matter? Does that change the answer to the question in any way?

          I e-mailed Allison once and she answered my question on this blog. I was slightly vague in one area as I was worried the details would reveal who I am. Several of the posters made gross assumptions about my character based on the missing information and I vowed to never ask a question to Allison again. Why have my character questioned simply because I want to protect my identity?

          Which brings me back to your question: does it really matter? It probably seems “off” to you because the OP was admitting personally identifiable information. So what?

          1. Roscoe*

            I’m not making any assumptions about her character. But, I also don’t think its wrong to question things either. Just because in OPs mind things happened one way, doesn’t mean that’s how it was perceived by others. My suggestion, as in my original response, was to try to understand where this came from before making a rash decision. Because the response if it was one person representing everyone as opposed to everyone having the same problem with them is definitely a bit different. If an entire group had a problem with something, maybe its worth at least looking at the behavior to see if something could change in the way she is handling the interns. So for your initial question, to me, yes it does matter and it would change my answer to the question by having those gaps filled in.

            I’m not even talking about taking the contact information, because everyone can agree that is a problem.

            1. fposte*

              But you’re acting like it would be a problem if you took the OP at her word and offered helpful advice accordingly. And in reality, you lose nothing even if it turned out she secretly had a nefarious plan and failed to mention that part, but you lose a lot–as do the rest of us–if you respond like she had a secret nefarious plan when things happened as she said.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s fine to suggest that there might be other ways of looking at something. That’s different than saying the story seems off to you and suggesting there are obviously key details missing that would explain the complaints. Please don’t do that (read the comment above from someone with personal experience as a letter-writer to understand why).

        5. HRish Dude*

          Why do you need “more to the story”? This isn’t the New York Times, it’s an advice blog and the person asked for advice.

    5. Rainy*

      These are incredibly silly complaints, though, unless the OP is omitting what could be read as valid criticism of her management for whatever reason.

      “She was hugged by an associate and she’s married.” Really!? This is a judgmental thing to complain about to begin with, but the “was hugged” actually makes this even worse.

      “She made us sit on the floor.” If, as she said, the OP was clearly giving them the message to work in the conference room, especially directing them to move there after they sat on the floor, this is not only a lie but reflects far more poorly on the students than on whatever OP may have possibly done wrong here.

      If they had other complaints that were directed at how OP was relating to them, I agree that’d be a good direction to go in. I’m curious why they had such a vendetta against OP as well, and hopefully she shares some of the other feedback she received if this is the case.

      But if these were the only complaints the students could come up with, I have a hard time reading this as anything other than the students acting like the children they should be striving not to be. For what reason? I can’t say, but from the nature of those two comments, I have a feeling that if there were something concretely wrong with the way OP is managing them (or there was something so utterly wrong with having to work in the conference room that sitting on the floor was preferable), this group certainly wouldn’t have missed pointing it out.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. There’s nothing she’s being accused of that’s even a big deal! I can think of types of accusations that would be worth a closer look, but this is petty stupid stuff, and the theft and emailing of the contacts is so so much a bigger problem than these “offenses” even if they were true.

        1. fposte*

          I did wonder if it was a conservative religious institution–I can’t imagine why the hugging would even have been worth mentioning by the advisor otherwise.

            1. SophieChotek*

              It must be a very conservative religious institution–I went to religious university and that would not have raised an eyebrow.

            2. Salyan*

              I’m conservatively religious, and would rather not hug someone of the opposite gender I’m not related to, but I totally get that I’m weird and that most of the world isn’t like that. :) I can’t even imagine why someone would think that is an complaint-worthy offense. Especially when (supposing it is a religious institution) one is dealing with an outside, assumedly secular company. This reads like a very young person reaching for something – anything! – to complain about.

              1. Jeanne*

                I think that the intern needs to grow up. As an adult, you understand there are differences between your values and how much you can demand others have your values. The intern is being childish and pouty because OP is willing to hug someone.

    6. CADMonkey007*

      OP has already had 2 previous groups of interns, presumably nothing went wrong there, so yeah, it is a little crazy that intern group #3 would come up with such massive complaints. I agree this sounds like a groupthink snowball that got really big and out of control. My advice to OP is to approach the advisor in the spirit of “working together to determine what went wrong,” as I think that’s the only way any real answers are going to come out of this and maybe OP can salvage her reputation. If the advisor still shuts down the communication then certainly take it up a level or just cut ties.

      Also, I’m curious how OP found out about the emails. Did one of these contacts notify OP? If so then OP would have copies of the emails as evidence.

      1. catsAreCool*

        The OP followed up on this and said there were only 2 people in this last intern group. So maybe 1 troublemaker and 1 follower?

    7. Katie the Fed*

      But here’s the thing – even if OP’s behavior was improper, employees need to learn to voice their concerns directly and work out their problems at that level. Tattling on OP to others is completely inappropriate in any circumstance.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Right. Or even just going to the advisor is fine, IMO, and often the way things are handled at that level. But you don’t go “tattling” on them to uninvolved third parties.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t entirely agree with that last sentence in general, and especially in an internship situation. I think it can be one of the tasks of the advisor to say, “That’s a concern you should raise with your internship supervisor,” but one of the points of the internship is to be able to work with a safety net; it’s also how internships that are poorly run get removed from the program.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, are you talking about the report to the contact list? Then I totally agree there, sorry.

    8. Xarcady*

      As a grad student, one semester I taught two sections of Freshman English, back to back. Same texts, same assignments, same quizzes, same lesson plans. If you read the student reviews from the two sections, you would think two entirely different people taught those classes.

      One section was engaged with the reading, asked lots of questions, had lively discussions, wrote great papers that showed thought and insight. They scored me very high across the board.

      The other section was full of students who thought that if they took the second half of Freshman English at the same time and in the same room as the first semester, they’d get the same instructor. But they didn’t. They were against me from the start, probably because it was clear I would expect them to do some work. They infected the rest of the class. I was never sure if anyone ever did the reading, class discussion was non-existent, they never talked, their papers were regurgitations of what I said in class. My reviews were uniformly dismal–I was a horrible teacher, played favorites the books I choose were awful, I didn’t allow class discussion (so what were all those class periods where I was practically begging them to talk?)– to the point where I was called in to the office to explain the reviews. Only the fact that I had been teaching there for two years and had very good reviews from every other class saved me.

      So, yes, I can see exactly how the situation in the OP could have happened.

      1. Amadeo*

        I watched this happen to the instructor last semester in my introduction to programming class. It wasn’t even real code, it was pseudocode and I’m just not sure what on earth my classmates expected. It was an extraordinarily simple class as far as I was concerned, you didn’t even have to stick to hard and fast syntax rules, just write a piece of pseudo code that *could* work.

        I know that they lambasted her come review time. I won’t say that she’s an astonishing teacher, but she certainly didn’t deserve the letter/petition one student was passing around while she was out of the room during review form fill-out. All he ever had to do was read the effing book.

      2. Cassandra*

        Cosigned — I’ve had this happen myself. My evals are generally quite high, but every once in a while you’d think I was a demon summoned from the briny deep.

  18. TotesMaGoats*

    #1- I’ve supervised senior interns for almost 10 years now. Only once have we ever kicked one of mine out. Intern was working at a kids nature center type place and was caught looking at inappropriate things (that starts with p and ends with n) in the presence of kids while she was supposed to be supervising the kids. Immediately removed from the site and after. 15 min call with program chair kicked out of the program.

    You should go over the course advisors head until you get resolution. This is unacceptable.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Oh we’ve got Problems,
      right here in River City,
      with a capital P, and that rhymes with C, and that stands for Corn!

    2. Achoo*

      Well, She was probably hungry and wanted and earlier snack break.

      Drooling over Popcorn?

      But haha, I like the fact that it is a She. Challenging Stereotypes!

  19. Applesauced*

    #4 – My sympathies, I did interviews on crutches a few years ago it is HARD. You’re physically exhausted, you can’t carry stuff, and you’re worried that it’s taking you 87 minutes to go down a hallway that most people do in 2.
    If you feel comfortable, I would ask about it before – Alison’s really good about word choice, but once the interview is set up something like “I’m looking forward to meeting with you and Percival on Tuesday. I am currently in a wheelchair, what’s the best way to get into and around your office?”

  20. the_scientist*

    I find it unaccountably hilarious that an intern went and complained the OP “was hugged by an associate…..inappropriate for a married woman!!!!” because it is so over-the-top pearl-clutching as to be completely ludicrous. Is this intern a time traveler? Is there a lack of cultural competency here? I can’t imagine any reasonable person treating that complaint seriously absent some sort of specific cultural/social context.

    Also, the intern emailing business contacts to complain about the OP!?! I’m picturing this as a stereotypical, all caps, lots of exclamation marks flame-mail. Certainly not something that a reasonable person would take seriously. That being said, it’s perfectly reasonable to withdraw from this program and I think it would be worth explaining to the program director exactly why you are choosing to do so.

  21. Temperance*

    Re: LW1 – I second the advice to contact the advisor’s supervisor. Stealing your contacts off of your desk in order to send nastygrams? That should get this student a failing grade on her internship.

  22. ThatGirl*

    Hi #1. I coordinate internships for all of my courses (adjunct instructor here) and I’m really appalled that these students got away with this!

    I have had internship sites be a bad fit for my students – usually based on student issues or lack of professional behavior on the part of the site supervisor. I have never pulled a student, and simply chose not to use that site in the future.

    In your case, I think two things apply: you shold absolutely feel that you do not have to continue hosting interns and you should let the Dean of the department know what the students did and explicitly tell them that this bad behavior on the students and the course advisors parts have led you to make this decision.

    I give my students a preemptive talking to that their behavior reflects upon me and the depaerment – and this applies here ten fold. The department should want to do damage control.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I do hope the OP talks to the dean or whomever before they discontinue accepting interns from that institution. The institution’s management might be horrified to hear what is going on, and while we can make a case that they should not have to have a third party inform them of their own internal issues, the OP is a bit like a customer in this case. If a cashier or sales associate is rude, management might have done all the right things except monitoring their employee closely enough, and the management might take swift and decisive action if they knew what was going on.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I also should add that I would expect the dean/department to fix the e-mailing business contacts issue also. They need to apologize for the unprofessional behavior of their students.

  23. RVA Cat*

    #1 – Am I the only one thinking some form of karma is going to come back to the contact-thief? I could see someone this entitled/narcissistic reaching out to those same contacts to network for a job and be utterly gobsmacked that her Mean Girl routine doesn’t exactly help her get in the good graces of those employers.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ha, I had the same thought. “Hey Bob, look–that weirdo who emailed us about her intern supervisor is applying for the junior teapot painting job! Ahahahaha!” And then they hit the delete button.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Anyone who acts as bizarre and mean as that is likely to have a tough life because most people don’t put up with that kind of thing.

  24. NCKat*

    I have been in a wheelchair since 1997, due to an accident. The best advice I can give you to smooth your way, so to speak, is be careful not to wear anything that would catch in your wheels or make too much of a noise. That means no wide pant legs, no flowing skirts, no wide sleeves, and no loose bracelets. I have found that if I worry overmuch about getting my clothing or jewelry caught in my wheelchair, I’m not paying enough attention to how I’m going and bump into things more often.

    1. Wheelchair OP*

      Thank you for reminding me about bracelets. I generally like to wear jewelry but you’re right. I should save that for when I’m more used to my situation.

  25. JMegan*

    #1, I agree with everyone else that the interns acted completely inappropriately in emailing your business contacts, and that the school is acting inappropriately in not addressing it, and that you should take it up the line until you either get resolution or dissolve the relationship.

    But I’m confused about the hugging. Who hugged whom, and in what context? Did you (or someone else in the office) hug an intern, or was somebody else hugging you? If a third party was hugging you, with your consent, that’s none of the intern’s business, of course. But IME, hugs are a bit outside the norm in most business contexts, so I can see why the intern would have been confused. You didn’t do anything wrong, and the intern didn’t handle it well, but even so, it might be worth thinking about when you’re explaining business norms to your next batch of interns.

    1. Kelly L.*

      I think the OP was hugged by another co-worker, and the intern saw it.

      Obviously, hugs aren’t the usual thing at work, but there are specific people I’ll hug in specific circumstances (for example, I hugged my long-time co-worker last week when she retired), and I’d be pretty boggled if someone assumed we were up to something nefarious.

      1. JMegan*

        That makes sense. I first read it as the OP hugged the intern, and thought “Woah, that’s not on!”

        I expect there are some industries where people hug each other at work all the time, some where they never do, and most would fall somewhere in the middle like you describe – no hugging most of the time, but there are some specific circumstances where people do hug each other.

        I don’t even know how you would explain that to an intern (and again, I get that this is far from the worst thing this group did!) Just one of those amorphous “cultural” things that people take for granted once they have been in the workplace for a while, but are hard to explain to new people.

        1. Observer*

          I think it’s VERY easy to explain to an inter. “different industries, and different organizations have different norms for hugging at work. So, before you get huggy, you should pay attention to what goes on in your office. Oh, and even where hugging is out of the norm, this is NOT your concern. Nor is the marital status of the people involved.”

          There was a time when I might have rolled my eyes at a pair hugging at work (I’m much more circumspect today.) But, I can’t imagine ever taking that up the chain as a complaint about my supervisor.

      2. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, I was visiting a remote office a couple of weeks ago, and a guy I had worked with on a previous project saw me in the cafeteria, jumped up, and gave me a hug. It was sweet to know I was missed (and it was in front of about 500 people) so there was nothing wrong; it was just a gesture.

        1. JMegan*

          No, there’s definitely nothing wrong with it, and the intern was out of line regardless. But I can see how she might have been surprised to see it, that’s all. (And then she goes and sits on the floor, whaaaat?)

          1. Anna*

            It’s not the surprise over the hug that’s really the weird thing. I mean, it’s weird, but if it were just that I think it would be less “Oh my heavens!” But it’s “hugged by someone and she’s a married woman” that takes in to the WTF territory.

    2. Observer*

      I’m going to have to disagree with that. For one thing, hugs are not THAT outside of business norms in many areas that it should generate a formal complaint to the adviser. The comment about being a married woman is far, far more outside of office norms. So much so, that I think the adviser should have told the complainer straight out that part of being a working adult is keeping your nose in your business and not other people’s relationships.

      And I say that as someone who doesn’t do hugs with guys, and who works in an office culture that is not huggy in general.

      1. sam*

        yeah. my current office environment is definitely NOT a huggy one, but I can’t even imagine what this intern would do in, say, the double-cheek-kiss culture of Italy (where I lived/worked for a while). I’m a fairly gregarious person, and it took me a little while to get used to walking into a negotiating session and being greeted by essentially a receiving line of bankers and accountants waiting to kiss me.

        1. Chinook*

          “but I can’t even imagine what this intern would do in, say, the double-cheek-kiss culture of Italy (where I lived/worked for a while).”

          I am glad to know I wasn’t the only one to think “I hope that the intern never has to work with someone from a cheek kissing culture.” In my case, that would have been someone Quebecois. I too had to learn to remember which friends and acquaintances were culturally huggers, one or two cheek kissers, a firm handshake or some form of bow.

          Plus, if it was a third party hug not involving the intern, how does she know that this wasn’t a greeting between long parted friends or distant family. It is not uncommon for me to run into someone in weird places (cousin at a distant airport, old classmate in a different province, or a friend of the family while at a tourist spot – all true stories). A hug would be spontaneous and not necessarily explained to those around me (because who really cares that that is my Dad’s third cousin who hosted them for Christmases when they immigrated here).

    3. Marvel*

      I just want to throw out there that there are many workplaces where casual hugs between coworkers who have worked with each other for a long time are not at all unusual. (Hell, there are entire industries where hugging is not unusual, like mine.) This isn’t something I’d expect most interns to be overly thrown by.

    4. Lauren*

      It made me think that this is not in the US. Hugged HER, was not HER HUSBAND. Is OP a woman and the interns male from a culture / country that may not like having female bosses? Not that any of that matters, since the contacting the client is the most egregious thing that happened in all of this.

    5. Tammy*

      Hugging in business contexts seems to vary a lot from company to company and culture to culture. In my current company, hugs are super common and NOT hugging in a lot of contexts would be seen as a little weird. In my last job, hugging would be seen as extremely weird. So I don’t think you can read anything into that. But the complaint about it struck me as super weird any way you slice it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        They’re uncommon in my experience, but they do happen now and then. At Exjob, the US division president of the company who owned us (major bigwig) came to visit and he hugged me right in front of the entire office. It was like, “Hi Bob!” “Hi Elizabeth! *HUG*”

        It weirded me out a little at first, but he was a very friendly person and very casual, and he never did anything questionable–it was just a hug. I think now he was trying to make me feel valued and did it in a very awkward way, LOL.

        And I hugged a coworker once when she had lost a family member and was crying in her office. Just a quick hug for comfort.

      2. KTB*

        I agree completely. For example, I hug my client as a greeting whenever I see her, because that’s how she rolls. I also hug my friends as a greeting and farewell, generally speaking. I don’t hug my coworkers, since that’s just not my office culture. That said, it’s a context thing: I did hug our intern on his last day, because he’s awesome and he’s also leaving the country for the foreseeable future. And I’m a married woman, but I’m 99.99% sure nobody cared. The complaint is titanically weird.

  26. Katie the Fed*

    Also, I’d be willing to bet that at least one of the interns will ask for a reference.

    1. Lillian McGee*

      Yes!!! Happened to me. A very needy poor-performing intern complained about me for being mean (I got visibly frustrated with her ONCE and apologized and then treated her excessively kindly thereafter to make up for it…) and a month after she left asked for a general letter of recommendation. Not for a specific position, just to hand out with her resumes. I declined.

  27. Observer*

    #1 I skipped a whole bunch of responses, so it could be someone addressed this, and I didn’t see.

    There is a fundamental problem here that you need to address before you can even consider working with the school again – and you need to address it with the people who run the program, not the adviser. Because the adviser is the real problem here. Pretty much accepting everything the group said without investigation – bad (I’ll cut him a LITTLE slack because it was apparently the group, which does carry some weight.) Treating the kissing thing as a reasonable complaint – HUH!? Seriously!?!?!?! Dismissing the email thing with “I can’t believe that happened.” – Where do you even start with that?

    From the school’s point of view, he’s a walking invitation to a law suit and from the student’s point of view he’s setting them up with dangerous and unrealistic expectations. That’s not your problem though. The problem is that for you, his attitude creates a risk that makes the program untenable. As bad as this was, the damage to you and the organization is probably containable. But other ethical lapses this profound may not be. If he’s pretending that this didn’t happen, how do you know that he’s not hiding something else about other students he’s going to supervise? What would you be willing to bet that he told the new assignment about this? I wouldn’t bet a penny. And what’s going to happen if another intern does something like harassing someone, stealing or leaking privileged information? Is he also going to pretend it didn’t happen? Yes, that sounds a bit like chicken little – but we know that stuff does happen, and that when people let this kinds of stuff slide, it’s more likely to happen.

    1. TootsNYC*

      ” Pretty much accepting everything the group said without investigation ”

      Well, she did say the advisor called to “ask” (her word) about it.

      However, she did end the encounter feeling a bit attacked instead of “looped in,” so I’m going to assume that reaction is based on a not-great tone from the advisor.

      And while I don’t think the advisor should be contacting the business contacts who got the email, I also think the advisor’s reasoning (“I can’t believe that happened”) is not appropriate. If the advisor said, “I don’t think it will help,” or “I’m not really the person with standing to do this,” I’d have more sympathy.

  28. newlyhr*

    #1 this is so incredibly unacceptable. Go up the chain at the school until you find somebody who sees the lack of ethics and professionalism. I honestly don’t even care if you were a good person to intern with or not—there is nothing you could do that would excuse or justify this type of behavior on their part!!!! They may not have any control over how you behave, , but they have 100% control over how THEY behave—and this is FLUNK OUT BEHAVIOR.

  29. Mockingjay*

    #5: Check the corporate website and see if you can sign up for job alerts via email. Read the website news section, too. You may see a feature on the expected store opening so you’ll know to be looking for the open application date.

    Also, some large companies allow job seekers to create an account to upload a resume and fill out the application in advance. If you get a notification of job you are interested in, you can quickly log in and update your information.

    1. Vagabond*

      This is the OP. Thanks for the suggestions. I really don’t want to have to move away from here, and I’m willing to take a job further away (i.e. several hours by plane) temporarily, but I’d really like not to have to sell my house and move away from my community. One thing I didn’t include in my original post is that I’m 59 years old, and pretty settled here. So these are useful suggestions to keep me in the loop if I do have to temporarily leave.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Good luck! It sounds like you were laid off from your previous job in a crappy way- hope you’ve filed for unemployment and are phrasing departure as a layoff (if that is in fact true) and not as a firing. You probably have, but it seems like a lot of people think that they are ineligible for unemployment, and confuse the terms layoff/firing, so just putting it out there. Hope you find a great new job soon :)

        1. Vagabond*

          Thanks! I was fired “without cause” and got the legally prescribed max of 8 weeks severance in lieu of notice. I also applied for Employment Insurance (I live in Canada) and have been accepted because I did nothing wrong. I feel OK about telling people that I was fired without cause, and people seem truly shocked when they hear it. I guess that most of us don’t like to think how quickly this can happen to someone, and also I have been somewhat of a fixture in the local teapot community. In Canada, a layoff implies that they would re-hire you if the job re-opens, while firing is termination of your employment (for whatever reason).

  30. the.kat*

    #1 – Is the advisor new? Are the students known to be difficult?

    If the advisor is new and a little unsure of the protocol for this situation, it might have taken them a few days to get all their ducks in a row before they came to you, especially if they needed to get counsel from their boss or on up the chain. Also, knowing that the internship was almost over, they may have considered that it would take more time and effort to get to the bottom of the situation than to simply give the interns a new assignment for the last few days.

    Also, some of the stories coming out of higher ed make me wonder if the advisor was a little afraid of the students. That could explain the “I can’t believe that happened” quote. If the advisor questions the students, are they making an unsafe environment? Could they lose their jobs? I don’t know and I’d hate to guess, but for an inexperienced, overworked advisor, the cost of not believing a group of students could be easily blown out of proportion in their minds.

    None of this changes Alison’s advice. I’d definitely try to meet with someone higher up the food chain, explain the situation, get the answers you need and then decide whether or not to continue with the program. I don’t think anyone would blame you for getting out.

  31. Big10Professor*

    #1 — Do you have an NDA in place? I would let the adviser know that your legal department is pretty unhappy about the theft of contacts. That should spur action in a hurry.

  32. TootsNYC*

    #5: I would actually disagree w/ Alison. As they’re making plans for this store, part of which influence their Teapot Department decision may be what level of staffing they’re going to be able to find in your locale.
    And if you are truly high level, that might be a role that they’d actually want on board while they’re still planning the store.

    So I’d say go ahead. At the least, it can’t really hurt you.
    Of course you know that they might not have that department, or might not hire until later, etc.
    But if you contact them, you might be more info—if they say, “oh, thanks, but in remote areas, we never put a Teapot Department in stores,” and you can move on.

    1. Vagabond*

      Hi, this is the OP, and you have put into words some of the things that have been floating around in my mind. I didn’t think it could hurt, but Alison is right that they may not tell me anyhow. I could still start the wheels in motion though, without counting on anything (as she says).

      1. Jeanne*

        I don’t think in this case it will hurt to try. If you can keep your expectations reasonable, express your interest.

  33. New2NY*

    #3 Thank you for answering my question! I kind of figured that it probably wasn’t a good idea to resubmit, but it never hurts to ask.

    Thanks for all the comments everyone. You brought up some good points. There is still a chance I could get an interview with my initial cover letter. So I will just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best!

  34. Tardis*

    For the wheelchair question – many places will rent wheelchairs, including electronic ones, for one week or one month’s use. I rented a wheelchair in DC; I have a colleague who rented one in Austin, TX; and I know they are available in many metropolitan areas. I think a week’s rental set me back about $70, which is a bargain in comparison to how much wheelchairs can cost upfront. I’d look into it for your situation.

    Best of luck!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      I was going to suggest this, too! I’ve had special ed students in wheelchairs and some have rented for a week or two to try them out before they get a new one. I would check with a medical supply place near a major hospital to start your search.

  35. Sunshine Brite*

    Would it look too bad if OP4 hired a PCA to assist as needed for the longer navigating portions of the interview?
    Like take her in, assist with the walk through the workspace as the OP takes notes while speaking with the people, wait for her to finish in the waiting area, that sort of thing.

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, I think it might; it also might suggest that hiring the OP will mean having the PCA along with her in the workplace. I can see where it might be hugely helpful, but I’d save it until its help exceeded the all-too-possible downside.

    2. Wheelchair OP*

      That might be a good idea as a last ditch effort. Like after I’ve been to an interview and realized I’m just not gonna make it without help. Honestly, the thought of hiring someone makes me tired.

  36. New Math*

    #2 Four weeks is not a lot of time to hire and train, unless you hire from within. When you post an ad, you usually give two weeks for replies. Then you have to sort through, do interviews and references, and make a selection. That’s another 1-2 weeks. Then that person may need to give notice at their current job. We find the whole process usually takes at least 6 weeks, and more for upper level/ management kind of work.

    Give notice, then start the process – update the job description, post the ad, sort through applications. You might even start phone interviews to narrow down possibilities (we usually use phone interviews to get more information about experience and to get a feel for the candidate). Your four weeks will probably be up before you get much further, especially as you will likely be busy documenting procedures for the next person.

    One of my former bosses used to always put this question in his interviews: “Have you ever worked with a demanding boss?” to weed out people who weren’t up to his toughness. You could try a version of that.

  37. Nico m*

    If the boss is a big jerk i doubt hes going to pay much attention to which candidate(s) you prefer. And if he does, strongly recommend the ex-marine with the steely stare who could snap him like a twig.

    1. catsAreCool*

      “strongly recommend the ex-marine with the steely stare who could snap him like a twig.” That might make that workplace easier to deal with.

  38. Cheryl Becker*

    #2. I just quickly looked over all the comments, so I hope I’m not repeating too much. And if someone(s) already said something like this, I agree with you.
    First of all, I’ve left horrible jobs before too. Haven’t we all? I’ve also worked in horrible places and served on hiring committees and felt conflicted trying to hire someone who would also have to suffer working at a horrible place. So I get it. And I’m not at all criticizing the OP, or supporting the Director. But what I do want to caution the OP, is that refusing to help hire your replacement can come back to haunt you in future job searches. Even horrible places to work, with bad reputations, can tell potential employers you were insubordinate. And even if they’re known to be horrible, sometimes they can be taken seriously. Believe me, I know how hard it is, but I think you have to take the high road here. I agree with Alison’s advice to “be open about the challenges of the job, without openly trash-talking your boss.”
    Good luck! I know it won’t be easy, but I know you can do it.

  39. TootsNYC*

    There’s an etiquette rule about not repeating gossip to the person being gossiped about.
    You know, when your friend Sally says, “George tells me he doesn’t like you.” The person who is SO wrong in this situation is Sally.

    So why does the OP even know about these stupid complaints to the advisor?
    If I were the advisor, and students said these complaints to me, I’d be calling the students in to say:
    “Here is where you are really, really wrong.”

    But I don’t know that I’d say anything to the internship supervisor. Or, if I did, it would be not to validate the complaints, but sort of an “us grownups ‘conspiring’ together for the good of these youngsters we are teaching together, and I’m keeping you in the loop and discussing how we handle this in the best learning interests of these kids.”

    If the advisor is passing on these complaints in any OTHER way, the advisor is so wrong, and deserves any sort of consequences like losing this internship site on her watch, etc.

    However, the letter said the advisor contacted to “ask about,” so I’m not absolutely certain the advisor is doing anything differently than what I would do. (Though, I wouldn’t even bring up the hugging thing, I’d just explain life to the intern. I might inquire about the circumstances that led to “made us sit on the floor,” but probably not unless it was a humorous aside in conversation, and I’d just say, “your boss can have you sit anywhere she needs you to, yes even the floor; you can certainly suggest some alternate place or tell her that it’s physically uncomfortable”)

    As for the Monday to Thursday gap–I wasn’t seeing it as that big of a thing, but I’m thinking that if the student emailed the business contact on Tuesday or Wednesday, then yes, that’s proof that the advisor didn’t act fast enough.
    The advisor should have responded to the interns rapidly enough to set them straight, or to officially get them to recognize a “holding” pattern.

    But I’m not getting why the OP wants the advisor to contact the business contacts (plural, I note) who got the email. That seems overkill. I wouldn’t want to make a bigger deal of that. The people who got that email will probably not give it much credence; someone unprofessional enough to send that kind of email has indicated how much weight people should give to their judgment–none.

    1. Jeanne*

      I don’t believe that this is about etiquette or that it’s gossip. As part of the internship program, there is usually back and forth communication. I don’t find anything wrong with the advisor communicating the issues in order to clarify. I do disagree with letting a student’s unprofessional conduct go unchallenged.

  40. Librarian-Ish*

    OP#4, if you’re not comfortable saying you’re “new at this”, could you rephrase is as “this is a new wheelchair for me?” They don’t need to know that it’s also your first wheelchair :)

    But honestly, if someone came in with a wheelchair and was having trouble getting around, my first thought wouldn’t be “oh, they’re really bad at that.” My thought would be “wow, this office is way less accessible than I thought, how embarrassing for us.”

    Also, when I needed a wheelchair, I was able to get it from a garage sale, but it was a regular one. Is there a place you can find used chairs?

    1. Mimmy*

      As someone who isn’t a wheelchair but is an ally to people with disabilities, thank you for your willingness to consider the environment rather than putting the onus on the person. I do think it would benefit the OP to practice maneuvering around, but so many places–employers, businesses, schools–don’t seem to understand that making places accessible will bring in more applicants/customers/students. I’m also a believer in that it benefits others too, like those with strollers.

      (sorry, couldn’t resist my advocacy spiel, lol)

  41. Mimmy*

    OP#4 – You’ve received some great advice so far. The only thing I can add is to try to show confidence and humor. I truly believe people are more likely to respond favorably if you’re able to laugh it off rather than getting flustered and worrying whether people will judge you. I know, easier said than done :) Your specific medical situation isn’t anyone’s business, but I agree with everyone else in saying to just give a little chuckle and say “whoops, this is new for me!”. I’m sure many, many people have made minor goofs during an interview, like dropping your papers or getting someone’s name wrong. It’s totally natural and part of being nervous. It’s how you handle yourself overall that matters.

    Good luck with your job search!!

Comments are closed.