tell us your weird summer intern stories

There was the intern who gave another intern a tattoo in the office conference room; the intern who told a horribly offensive joke at an external meeting; the intern who set up a cot for himself, complete with pillow shams; the intern who was blown away by an electric stapler and thought dragons exist; the intern who desperately wanted to work from a patio, and the infamous interns fired for petitioning for a different dress code.

As another summer internship season draws to a close, we must hear your weirdest/funniest/worst stories about interns. Share in the comments.

{ 1,104 comments… read them below or add one }

        1. Kuododi

          I make a chocolate sandwich cookie that’s all soft and fluffy. Then I sandwich about two inches of decadent white home made icing in between the cookies. I’ll fix a double batch and be on my way!!!

          Reply
            1. Belle of the Midwest

              If people tell you a cake has too much icing, walk away. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

              Reply
                1. cara

                  Or, at the very least, we’ll (for I, too, believe in “too much” frosting) opt for a middle piece without gobs of decorations, leaving the more heavily frosted portions to those who will truly enjoy them.

            2. TardyTardis

              When I was much, much younger, I made a cake for a Cub Scout Jamboree and accidentally doubled the icing recipe. I put it all on anyway, and I think that was the first cake to die that night–apparently this made it waaay more popular than the others.

              Reply
  1. Bend & Snap

    We had a couple of doozies during my time at a PR agency.

    1) came in hung over and threw up down a flight of stairs in the office. Carpeted stairs. The smell lingered for days

    2) took a nap under the front desk during business hours

    3) Wore head-to-toe designer gear every day, left her wallet at the reception desk and kept wailing that IT WAS DIOR when it got stolen. Most of us were making peanuts.

    So all in all, not too crazy.

    Reply
      1. knitcrazybooknut

        We had someone sleep at their desk, get fired, and file for unemployment. He won because nowhere in the employee handbook did it explicitly say, “No sleeping on the job.”

        I am so not kidding.

        Reply
        1. Quackeen

          Yup, I can believe it. I had a couple of guys in a class I was running get pissed when I asked them to please not sleep during class because, at the beginning of the day, I had not spelled out in the course overview that sleeping was not allowed.

          Reply
          1. whingedrinking

            I had a student once who came to class and slept every. single. day. After day three of this I told him to sleep somewhere else and kicked him out. He complained to my boss, who told me I couldn’t stop someone from “attending” class as long as he wasn’t disruptive. I should have said that he snored.

            Reply
            1. Annie

              I realise my situation is very unusual but as a person with narcolepsy who was tortured throughout school and college for it, please have a bit of sympathy. If a healthy adult is randomly falling asleep in the middle of the day on a regular basis, something is wrong.

              Reply
              1. PizzaDog

                If this were true of the above examples, it’s up to them to advise their boss / professor / doula / whomever, so that they don’t have this type of reaction. The first thought when seeing a student sleeping in class isn’t going to be positive, unfortunately.

                Reply
              2. whingedrinking

                You’re absolutely right, and the first thing I did was ask him if he was okay. Students falling asleep in class, even sleeping through the whole thing, is not outside the realm of my experience as either a teacher or a learner, so I let it pass for the first day. After the second, he said he was fine, he just “liked to sleep”. Now, maybe he did have a sleep disorder – maybe it was undiagnosed, or maybe he was embarrassed to admit it – but either way, he wasn’t getting anything out of the class and he was negatively affecting everyone else. Being told that he couldn’t be there should have been an indicator that this wasn’t normal and something needed to be done about it.

                Reply
          1. doreen

            And mine now says an employee “shall not sleep or give the appearance of sleeping on the job” – because at least one person claimed she wasting sleeping just “resting her eyes” for half an hour.

            Reply
          2. Environmental Compliance

            I have an odd mixture of want to know and do not want to know about what happened to cause the ridiculous number of times “do not sleep with a student” was included in the employee manual when I started as a TA…

            Reply
            1. Harper the Other One

              There was a professor in my department who was notorious for breaking up with his wife RIGHT before one of his students graduated, and then six months later when the divorce was finalized, what do you know! They were dating.

              This happened MULTIPLE TIMES. But because no one could prove they had any relationship prior to graduation, there was little they could do.

              Reply
              1. ToS

                If the exwife was truly motivated, they could disclose the emails with the student that got them the quickie (adultery, no waiting period) divorce to the university’s general counsel or Title IX Coordinator. They track behavior.

                Reply
            2. The Archnerd

              I am a grad student, and have femmrecently learned (courtesy of a bit of breakroom gossip with one of the younger professors) just how many of these dudes have had relationships with students or (in the best cases) former students. My own academic advisor met his wife when she was a student of his. I did NOT ask when they got together.

              Reply
              1. NotTodaySatin

                I met my husband when he took the first class I ever taught. However, since I was at a junior college and he was returning to school, we’re actually the same age and we didn’t start dating until after he was done with my class. He was in one of the two year track programs and would never take any class I’d teach again (think, he was in industrial basketweaving and I taught freestyle weasel ranching as an elective).

                Reply
        2. ToS

          Yes, he won unemployment – not the right to sleep. What we tell people is, if you are sleeping while you are expected to be working, you are, by definition, not doing your job. You cannot “attend” to your work if you are asleep. We have mercy for the occasional nod, or even people who nap (and wake up) during their break in private work areas.

          We are generous with leave, and have good benefits. Some of the more circumspect employees, when warned, have mentioned going for a sleep study with helpful results.

          Reply
        1. AK

          Not at all ashamed to admit that I have! I had a late night working with teams in different time zones then had an early meeting the next day. By 1pm I thought I would fall asleep standing up! I booked one of our smallest conference rooms for a 30 minute “meeting”, brought my computer and notepad in so no one would be suspicious, and set an alarm for 25 minutes. It was exactly what I needed to get through the day, and I was able to finish the afternoon strong! I was unavailable for less time than a lunch break, no one else needed the room, and I had my desk phone forwarded to my cell in case anything urgent had come up.

          That said, I’d never dream of napping at or under my desk. :)

          Reply
          1. Kimberly

            I took a nap during my conference period or lunch a couple of times and so did my teammates. As long as we were up and able to teach on time, it was ok. Teaching is physically stressful. It often happened when we had some type of event the night before that kept us at school late.

            Reply
          2. Jayn

            Working as a security guard, one of my early assignments was to spend a couple nights in an empty school with no power. Pretty hard to stay awake in near-total darkness (I eventually developed better coping mechanisms). Kinda glad I got away with it, kinda annoyed that no one noticed when I was 19, alone, and missed my hourly check-in.

            Reply
          3. Loud Noises

            Literally the only way I got through the first year of my job in a foreign time zone was going out to my car every lunch break and power napping. It really does work wonders!

            Reply
          4. Software Engineer

            I took a nap at work because it was New Years Eve and the office was completely dead…. I had a massive headache, but with my husband and two small children at home I knew that ‘going home sick’ wouldn’t involve much resting. So I booked the casual conference room that had a couch, turned off the lights and drew the shades

            It’s a measure of how dead the office was that nobody cared when I stayed 15 minutes past my booked time. Usually somebody is kicking you out at :01 after

            Reply
      2. doder mcbungleboo

        sometimes. i work with people in different timezones and i might come in at 4:30 in the morning for meetings, take a nap for an hour or so, get up at 9 and get back to work.

        occasionally in the afternoons i might take a 10-minute power nap at my desk…beats spending an entire afternoon dead tired and unable to do anything…seriously, it’s a win-win.

        Reply
          1. Lissa

            Not gonna lie, under the desk makes me think of an anxious grade one student (because it was me! not ragging on anxious grade one students.)

            Reply
          2. Anonny

            I did it once, when the computers all went down and no work was going to get done.

            I like sitting in dark, enclosed spaces. I’m basically a cat.

            Reply
            1. anycat

              i did it once after our holiday party that was held at the office. the desk was about 5 feet tall and blocked me. we were all so incredibly drunk (lots of champagne, not a ton of food) that no one noticed.
              ahh.. that’s why i don’t work for small businesses any more.. ;)

              Reply
            2. WeNamedTheDogIndiana

              It is entirely possible to lie under my desk such that it is impossible to tell I’m there unless someone literally walks into my cubicle – I’m in a corner. I’ve never slept there (although the thought has certainly occurred), but I have on occasion had a brief lie down in order to recalibrate my spine.

              Reply
        1. Annoyed

          Years ago when I had the salon (note… I owned it so I could do “whatever”), if it was a slow day and I had no immediate/soon appointments sometimes I would lock the doors and go sit under a pre-warmed hair dryer and nap.

          I did that off and on for years if I needed a power nap and the circumstances were right.

          Mostly trough this was reeaallyy a *thing* the last couple of years when I was burning out in general.

          There were also days that I just “couldnt” and would just hide out back there so I didnt have to deal with people. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          Reply
        2. Jerry

          Same here, I travel ~40% and manage projects across time zones, but like to get some face time when I’m in the office city. If I’m jet lagged or I’ve been awake since 4, I’ll chug a coffee and take a quick one.

          Reply
      3. Quackeen

        Not gonna lie, I was walking to work this morning, wondering if I could get away with taking a nap on my office floor today (but I have an office door that closes!)

        I decided against the nap.

        Reply
        1. DanniellaBee

          Put a do not disturb sign on your door and turn off the lights. In extreme sleep deprived work weeks I think this is reasonable.

          Reply
          1. Sally

            Many years ago, I worked for a bank, and I used to go into a conference room, lock the door, and nap on my lunch hour. …until someone unlocked the door and walked in with a client. They immediately left to find another conference room. So embarrassing!

            Reply
            1. Mimi Me

              One of my favorite Office episodes is when the party planning group is taken over by Jim and Dwight and they forget Kelly’s birthday. So they give her the option of a party or a nap under the conference table and she chooses the nap. I would LOVE if my office did that!

              Reply
            2. Kit Kendrick

              I’ve done that, usually with white noise on my earbuds and an alarm so I won’t oversleep. If someone else comes in, I just explain that I was on the edge of a headache and was using the darkness and white noise to try and ward off a full migraine. (Which was usually the truth anyway.)

              Reply
      4. Observer

        It’s not so surprising when you consider the stories young people get fed. You know, Marissa Meyer sleeping under her desk, cots in law offices supposedly being standard practice, Financial services hours being 100+ hours per week *especially for interns*, etc.

        Of course, all of those stories about people who work their heads off, but it does paint an odd picture.

        Reply
        1. Book Badger

          I’m not so sure about cots in law OFFICES, but at my law SCHOOL we had a downstairs bathroom that was not only equipped with toilets, but a full-on shower (towels not included). I don’t know anyone who used it personally, but allegedly it was for when people slept in the library overnight and needed to shower the next morning.

          Reply
          1. Len F

            Some office blocks have showers, too. I think the point of it is for people who bicycle to work.

            Either way, an on-campus shower is very useful those of us that attend the Global Game Jam (https://globalgamejam.org/), which is usually held at a university or something similar. At some points in a three-day programming marathon it is still necessary to wash oneself.

            Reply
      5. Temperance

        I have occasionally done this, TBH. I know it’s weird – I have a private office and can fully fit under my desk. I only have done it when a serious migraine hits and I don’t have my rescue meds.

        Reply
        1. DrTheLiz

          Total sympathy here! When I get a migraine, the best way to guarantee a rescue med will *work* is to take a 30 minute nap. Resets the brain juice, or something. Still won’t help with a 72-hour special, but nothing does and I don’t get them often so… eh.

          Reply
          1. Oranges

            Apparently your brain does shrink a bit when sleeping. Current theory is that the spinal fluid is actually washing away “brain waste products” when you sleep. The more you know. The more you have to conclude that the world is weeeeird.

            Reply
      6. London Calling

        Yes it is. I had a colleague who came in mega hungover and went to an unoccupied office and slept under the desk for a couple of hours. It helped that he was very popular with everyone including the manager so we all shrugged and said, ‘Well, that’s X,’ and we weren’t in the main office building so no-one else was around to see but still….

        Reply
      7. RainyDay

        Someone in my office naps on a couch in the kitchenette/break room several days a week at the end of the day (like 3-5pm). Curled up with her feet on the couch (SHOES ON UGH), the whole thing. Or just sitting there playing on her phone. I’m hoping she’s an intern and just doesn’t understand how the real world works yet.

        It bothers me waaaay more than it should.

        Reply
        1. Annoyed

          That would bother me. 1) the shoes thing…agreed…iiiccckkk and 2) if that’s a shared space she’s using more than her fair share…often.

          Reply
        2. Jess

          I think that’s a really odd use of a shared space! It seems disrespectful. The sitting playing on her phone is one thing (perfectly usual way to wind down for a little while…but not two hours?!), but napping in a shared spaces means that anyone else using it has to be quiet and impinges on their ability to use the space in a reasonable way.

          I often pop out into our kitchen/staff room area if I need to do something like make a personal call, I’d be very annoyed if someone was napping there and I felt I couldn’t have a conversation at a normal volume.

          Reply
      8. miss_chevious

        We had a summer associate who decided it would be a good idea to PUT ON HER PAJAMAS and take a nap ON TOP OF HER DESK one summer. I mean, I’ve dozed in my office occasionally for sure, but I didn’t climb up on top of the desk in my PJs for a snooze. She was not offered a position at the end of the summer.

        Reply
      9. Been there, seen that, the T-Shirt doesn't fit

        The high school age daughter of one of my bosses used to come into her mom’s office after school & nap under the desk until it was time for mom to go home. Scared the hell out of anybody who walked around the desk & found her.

        Reply
    1. Shmems

      Ha! My director told us about an intern at his previous job who, on his break, would put on a hooded sweatshirt and sit at his desk snoozing with his head on his arms and a post-it on his back that said “Do Not Disturb”

      Reply
      1. Frozen Ginger

        There was one day, within the first year of my first post-college job, where I just literally could not stay awake. I was doing the whole eyes-fluttering and head-nodding thing.
        Thankfully, my department’s pretty lax on things and we all work flex-time. So I took a piece of paper and wrote “Don’t worry; I’m not charging time”, taped it to my desk and took a blissful ten-minute nap.

        Reply
        1. Tiny Soprano

          This is me too. I have very low blood pressure combined with the (sometimes useful, sometimes terrible) ability to sleep anywhere, so if I’m sitting down for long periods I can really struggle to stay awake. I’ve completely conked out sitting upright at a desk in the middle of working before, or fallen asleep in the middle of lunch! It even impacts the opera job sometimes (if we’ve been up rehearsing all day and then the director wants us to sit down so they can go through an hour of notes, my body interprets that as nap-time).

          Reply
          1. Snazzy Hat

            When I worked retail, I would sometimes get very tired during my 15-minute break, and I was convinced it was because I was hurrying around for hours and then suddenly stopped moving, as though my body went “oh thank goodness! power-down mode!”

            Reply
        2. Loud Noises

          If that happens to me when it’s not my break time I actually go into the bathroom and just sit to have a five-ten minute shut eye. Desperate times…

          Reply
      2. Office Gumby

        One day I just. could. not. stay. awake at the Day Job. I hung in there until lunch time, booked out the darkest meeting room we had, and spent the lunch hour napping.

        After that, I realised my car was probably the better place to nap (in spite of daylight), as I didn’t want to risk the optics of someone accidentally walking in on me having a nap on company property (albeit on my own time and not company time).

        Reply
    2. ElspethGC

      My dad worked in Malaysia for eight months (helping set up a new oil refinery) and he said it was pretty common for staff to nap when they didn’t have anything to do. I think it’s a cultural thing in that sense – my university has campuses in China and Malaysia that do year-abroad exchanges with the British campus, and you’ll see the East Asian transfer students napping in the uni library pretty often. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was semi-common in businesses as well.

      Reply
      1. ElspethGC

        Ugh, I meant to have this as a reply to Princess Consuela Banana Hammock saying “We had someone nap under their desk during business hours! Is this a thing people do??”

        Reply
        1. Annoyed

          Mid day naps are pretty commin in lots of places. Actually, and I have not run the numbers, but I think we here in the US/UK/other W. European type countries are in the minority.

          TBH I think with people working insane hours (something I do not allow in my own business, free/family/down time is sacrosanct to me) holding to “no sleeping at work ever” standards from a time when people routinely never worked over 40 hours per week but now easily do 60-80+ on a regular basis is ridonkous.

          Reply
        2. Say what?

          Same! I was napping up and down that campus like a narcoleptic cat. I think that’s just a student thing, not a cultural thing in this case.

          Reply
      2. heyho

        Ooh – I used to work at a teaching hospital that had a library in it and I would totally going down there and nap on my lunch hour sometimes. (I was non-exempt and had a strict lunch hour that I HAD to take…so why not?) Tons of docs/residents/med students were also sleeping in there, so it wasn’t too weird.

        Reply
        1. Layla Heimlich

          I am a librarian at a teaching hospital, and this happens ALL THE TIME. We’re actually happy to have you – our residents and fellows use the library all the time, and we’re kind of tickled that the library is a place you feel comfortable. Many hospital librarians feel that providing a “safe space” for our clinicians is a really important part of our job.

          Reply
      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I don’t think naps are uncommon—when I worked abroad, we had a two-hour lunch where naps were very common. And of course, hospitals and now law firms have cots and napping/overnight rooms, etc. It’s the very specific “sleeping under the desk” that surprises me, although perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised, as I saw classmates bring sleeping bags and camp out in the library all the time during undergrad finals.

        Reply
      4. Julia

        In Japan, some students sleep in class and it’s generally considered acceptable (unless you’re in, like Communicative English or whatever), and my awful co-worker at my last Japanese job would sleep at her desk most afternoons, even though we were definitely not overworked and she usually came in late in the mornings anyway.

        Reply
      5. Ambulocetus

        It could be sector-dependent because I’m from and currently work in Malaysia and it’s not common at all for staff in the private sector to nap at work! (apart from some startup-y workplaces that tout bean bags and napping rooms and stuff, but no one really uses this ‘perk’ because work culture-wise it’s frowned upon). The public sector (civil servants) here is heavily stereotyped as lazy; taking naps on-the-job is considered a sign of laziness and incompetence, from my understanding.

        Reply
      6. Bowserkitty

        Can concur; a lot of people in my office in Japan do this. It was fascinating to me at first but now I’m used to seeing my boss conked out. As soon as the lunch bell end chimes, he comes back to life completely refreshed.

        I, personally, would develop back/neck pain from this. Not to mention my make-up would smudge, knowing my luck.

        Reply
    3. H.C.

      Oh man, if I only had a dollar for every weird intern/worker story during my time in PR agencies (esp to make up for their ridiculously low pay.)

      Reply
    4. another Hero

      #2 is relatable tbh. It is only the fact that this is Unacceptable Behavior that keeps me from sleeping under a desk sometimes

      Reply
    5. Jenny P

      I had an intern in a public facing position in a children’s drop-in area of a museum take a naps regularly. Visitors complained to security.

      Reply
  2. Kat Em

    Do student teachers count? Because I worked with one who randomly mentioned in conversation that she believed dinosaur fossils were planted by atheist scientists to make people stop believing in God.

    Reply
          1. Anonny

            She’s gonna run into a kid like I was, and then there’ll be tears. And screaming. Probably from both the kid and the teacher.

            Reply
              1. MissPettyAndVindictive

                A friend’s kid was so keen on dinosaurs he could spell brontosaurus – at 4. Wrote it at the bottom of a picture of one he drew for me. A couple of the letters were backwards, but it was the right spelling!

                Reply
    1. Bea

      Bless her heart.

      All those pesky scientists! I applaud her whole new level of over the top beliefs.

      I wonder her thoughts on climate change *grinch grin*

      Reply
      1. seewhatimean

        I have just learned that my non-intern long-time-science-employment coworker does not believe that climate change is cause by or affected by anything people do. The same day I learned that our evolutionary development expert believes in intelligent design.

        Reply
    2. moss boss

      Can’t wait to hear from all the summer science interns who spend their summers in the badlands burying fossils. I bet they have some good stories too.

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Stop…my mind is writing a fantastic tale of these bad baby scientists embarking on their first mission to remove God from the minds of the good folks.

        (Being a Christian myself, I’m even worse than any gaggle of these atheists…I’m an atheist enabler…but free will y’all.)

        Reply
      2. char

        Plot twist: the fossils are actually dragon bones that the interns are re-arranging into these fictional “dinosaur” configurations.

        Reply
    3. Cruciatus

      I have met a person just like this. I thought one could believe in both, and even mentioned the Scopes Monkey trial, but alas… It’s all a conspiracy. And radiocarbon dating is fake–you put down when you think the item (fossil, whatever) is from, and that’s the date they’ll give you when you’re done. It’s all a sham.

      Reply
      1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

        My great-grandfather died firmly believing that dinosaur bones were really elephant bones, and that those pesky scientists were lying to us for the purpose of leading us astray. My great-grandmother is still living, and I’m pretty sure that she holds that same opinion.

        Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            Spouse used to say “… back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and the internet was dial up” until daughter shot back “I don’t even know what dial up IS.”

            Reply
                1. ComputerD00D

                  “Back in the day when I was Cool Kid of the year because my parents baught me a 9600 Baud modem for Christmas…”

                2. TardyTardis

                  *I* got a 28.8 modem for my anniversary present one year, but that’s because my husband was cool and my son is technically ept.

            1. MissPettyAndVindictive

              This is great.
              My Dad and some of his friends use the phrase “When Jesus was a lad and played half-back for Israel”
              And my fiance says “In the future when there’s robots” and if you point out that there are already robots he shrieks and accuses you of being a time-traveller. It is very entertaining.

              Reply
            2. Julia

              My grad school prof says that about his old research days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and he had to type papers into word processors. Being the mouthy snark that I am, I asked how a T-Rex would type, and he actually gave a demonstration. We’re linguists, by the way.

              Reply
          2. alice

            My godson recently asked me if I dinosaurs were alive when I was his age. I bought him a book about dinosaurs and some plastic dinosaur toys for his third birthday. His mum is a bit annoyed with me because he is now obsessed so I think she regards it as my just desserts. I am 25.

            Reply
              1. amb

                So I live on a small farm and have a lot of chickens (we sell eggs). I really would like to call it the Tiny Dinosaur Farm, but my hubby has never gotten on board with me.

                Reply
        1. Bend & Snap

          My grandmother just found out dinosaurs are real a few years ago. She thought they were made up, like dragons. But she’s 100 but she gets a pass.

          Reply
          1. Not a Mere Device

            My mother thought that until she was in her twenties. When she mentioned that (I was in my 40s, it hadn’t come up before) it made me wonder about the generally excellent high school she and I both went to.

            Reply
      2. CupcakeCounter

        You must have met my science teach from the Christian school I attended. Great at everything else but I remember him saying “God made it look that old on purpose”. No one could answer my question of but why would he/she/they do that?
        My uncle (a minister) told to to keep remembering that the Bible and other religious texts were written by man and a lot of people are bad at math. Smart man that one. Actually learned Hebrew and Greek so he could read the “originals” himself with King James or any other dudes putting their spin on things. Whether I agree or not I have a lot of respect for that work ethic.

        Reply
        1. Annoyed

          My one great-grandmother, a devout southern baptist told me basically the same thing.

          She also told me to learn for myself and not believe what others, including clergy told me things meant/were.

          She was talking about the bible and religion specifically, but it’s a lesson I’ve applied to my whole life: be a rebel like Grandma.

          Reply
      3. Allornone

        I had an AP Biology Teacher that did not believe in evolution. That’s right, Advanced Placement Biology teacher, a guy teaching college-level biology.

        Otherwise, he was a wonderful teacher and my liberal-arts butt probably would not have passed the AP Exam without him, but I still could never get over that.

        Reply
        1. MissPettyAndVindictive

          How on earth can you be an AP biology teacher and not believe in evolution?!

          I knew someone at school who came from a fairly creationist family, but was extremely good at science, especially biology. I always felt she merged her faith and love of science well – God created the earth waaaay back when, got bored, and essentially the same thing happened that does if you leave half a sandwich in a lunch box and forget about it – stuff grows.
          So yep, we’re all here because God started a science experiment and forgot about it.

          Reply
          1. Carpe Librarium

            That’s why everything these days has warnings to store them in a cool, dry place; life on Earth is an excellent example of what happens when you don’t…

            Reply
        2. RaccoonLady

          I had a good friend (Southern Baptist preacher’s daughter, now getting her PhD in archaeology!) tell me that she likes to think of the seven days of creation as “God days” and those are much longer than ours…hence all the evolution and billions of years from nothing to mankind! It doesn’t 100% work for my agnostic self but I did liked her way of explaining it and reconciling her very religious upbringing with her very liberal career!

          Reply
          1. TardyTardis

            I wonder what she would think of the Egyptian letters complaining about having to pay too much in taxes from around 4000 BC? (seriously, this is not a new thing…).

            Reply
    4. Ealasaid

      I had a school librarian tell me she only reads books like the Left Behind series because they’re about what’s really going to happen.
      *headdesk*
      Another person I worked with that year in the school district told me she didn’t know any gay people. I said something like, “well, as far as you know.” Completely blew her mind. I mean, we were in the SF Bay Area. Like, lady, you 100% know at least one gay person. They just haven’t told you.

      Reply
      1. Rainy

        When my high school refused to allow a PFLAG chapter because “[High school] doesn’t have any gays” according to the principal, I wrote a letter asking if he was sure about that, because A) there were certainly LGBTQIA students when I was there, and B) I myself, an alumna of [High school], am bisexual.

        Reply
      2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

        Left Behind…..ugh. As a person who grew up in church during Left Behind’s heyday, anyone who takes those books as gospel truth makes me want to beat my head into a wall.

        Reply
        1. SusanIvanova

          Fred Clark on Slacktivist has been deconstructing those books for *years*. He’s evangelical but not fundamentalist, so he gets where they’re coming from and it’s a really interesting insight into their mindsets.

          Reply
          1. Kitrona

            And the comment section is pretty good. Not as well moderated as here, but there’s interesting discussions.

            (Full disclosure: That’s how I met my girlfriend, in the Slacktivist comment section. I also run the Discord for the commenters.)

            Reply
        2. Annoyed

          I read one once. It was left in a laundry mat. Way before smart phones. I was bored. I didn’t know about them at that point. I swear I was sitting there just slack jawed in disbelief the whole time I was reading it.

          Reply
        3. tink

          The first few were an interesting read if you took them at “apocalypse fiction with a biblical slant” face value, but then a whole bunch of people became convinced they were basically non-fiction and I noped right out of that.

          Reply
      3. whingedrinking

        Another person I worked with that year in the school district told me she didn’t know any gay people. … I mean, we were in the SF Bay Area.
        …what does she think the whole city is getting up to in June, then? People just really like rainbows?

        Reply
    5. Likeraccons

      I learned my lesson that I should bring up dinosaurs on a first date to see if the other person believes they are real. I was a few years in with someone, and had to rethink the whole relationship. It hadn’t come up because we weren’t church going people. That was an eye-opener!

      Reply
      1. The New Wanderer

        Fortunately, my date revealed his stance on evolution (didn’t buy it) on the second date, which was obviously the last date. His take was that God planted the fossils to create doubt and only true believers would see the Truth. He also believed the moon landings were a hoax.

        Reply
        1. Shay

          I was talking to a guy about how I believed in some conspiracy theories. He was so on board and thought I was awesome, I could just really tell that his opinion of me was going through the roof. I’m thinking conspiracy theory like MKUltra, the US government assassinated MLK, and modern civil rights movements are being spied on and sabotaged by the FBI. He comes out saying the moon landing never happened.

          Reply
            1. cara

              Or, “I know, right? If there had *really* been a moon landing, it would be an accepted scientific fact that the moon is hollow!”

              Reply
      2. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

        I like to tell the story about how in college, I took an archeology class thinking it was going to be all dinosaurs, all the time. Sadly, the dinosaurs were nowhere to be found and I finally realized the difference between Human Archeology and Paleontology about the 3rd week.
        It’s sort of a “Haha, dumb me.” story that masks the true test of compatibility : “Do you believe dinosaurs are real?”

        Reply
        1. Say what?

          I feel really sad for you because I would also make this mistake and I would have been deeply disappointed by the lack of dinosaurs. Which is crazy because I feel like I’d enjoy the class a lot if I went in with the expectation that there would be no dinosaurs.

          Reply
        1. Botanist

          I’m a Mormon and a scientist- I studied evolution at BYU, the church-owned school. The church’s official stance is that they have no official stance on things like paleontology and the age of the earth.

          Reply
        2. Renna

          ???

          I’m Mormon and I assure you that we were never taught anything at church stating that science isn’t real. Some people may have parents with these misguided ideas, but I’m 30 and have been in congregations across the country and abroad (military family). The general belief is that God works through science and the Biblical timeline of 7 days is “whatever a day means to something eternal”. I haven’t met another church member yet who doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. I’m sure they’re out there, I just haven’t met any. They aren’t that common.

          Reply
          1. That Would be a Good Band Name

            Not a Mormon, but glad to see someone else mention that “7 days” isn’t necessarily days like we think of them now. I heard that in church at some point growing up and it always stuck with me, but no one else seems to be familiar with the idea and even my family doesn’t remember any of our pastors saying it. I’m guessing it was the one who was also the science teacher at the high school.

            Reply
          2. Turtlewings

            Came here to say essentially the same thing, but I wanted to tell you I initially thought you meant you were sure *dinosaurs* were out there and you just haven’t met any. “They aren’t that common” indeed…

            Reply
    6. MuseumChick

      Oh boy. Not an intern but I once had a co-worker tell me “I think giants existed but I’m still researching it.” I said “Oh, do you mean like *insert medical conditions that cause extremely tall humans?” Her: “No, I mean like what’s in the bible. But like I said, I’m still researching it.”

      Reply
      1. Lara

        That’s…actually not amazingly uncommon. Some people equate the “Nephilim” from Genesis with giants thanks to the “David and Goliath” narrative.

        Reply
        1. Gus

          Yeah, the King James translation of Genesis 6:4 is “There were giants in the earth in those days.” I don’t think belief in literal giants is a mainstream Christian position, but it’s not entirely out of left field.

          Reply
      2. Engineer Girl

        There were definitely groups of people over 8 foot tall. Considering most people at the time were under 5 feet, that would qualify.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          It’s very rare for groups of people to be under 5 ft. The idea of really short Medieval people came out of only gowns and armor for really short people surviving to modern times, which turned out to be due to a bias in what sizes can be used until they wear out.

          Reply
          1. Batty Twerp

            Try my family of Welsh mining stock! My mum is 4’9″, my nan and grandad topped out at 4’6″ and 4’11” respectively. We even had “Little Nan”, my great grandma who was barely 4’4″. I’m only just 5′ 2.5″ (I’m proud of that half inch!).

            Reply
          2. Engineer Girl

            Julius Caesar was considered very tall at 5’7”. The male Egyptians were around 5’2”.

            Medieval times were thousands of years removed from ancient times so are a poor comparison. Different ethnic group too.

            Reply
            1. Dove

              Nutrition, disease, and stress all play a factor, too – on average, people in the modern day are getting *much* more in the way of nutrients and sufficient calories than our ancestors in the medieval era or earlier would have been, and we’re less likely to get vaccine-preventable diseases because. Well. Vaccines. (It turns out that getting sick a lot as a kid tends to result in being shorter on average, since your body’s more focused on not dying and doesn’t have the resources to spare for getting taller.)

              Reply
          3. UKcastle visiter

            That isn’t quite right. The idea that medieval people were shorter also came from medieval buildings all over Europe with really low doorways and ceilings. I can personally attest from visiting more than twenty of them that are still standing in multiple countries that they were built for people who were max 5ft4.

            Reply
        2. The Other Katie

          There’s no evidence of groups of people over 8 feet tall, either. The tallest historical group of people is probably the modern Dutch, whose average male height is about 6′ (182.5cm).

          Reply
          1. Engineer Girl

            This statement isn’t quite true. For example, the Maasai average at 6’4”.
            Many of the studies do averages by country instead of by tribe. This really messes with the data.
            In short, their sample areas are so large that they mess up the averages.

            Reply
          2. Engineer Girl

            BTW the Maasai home country of Kenya has an average height of just 5’6”.
            That shows you how incorrect sampling can hide data.

            Reply
      3. Tuna Casserole

        Nephilim. Giants who were children of the sons of God and the daughters of men. I had a co-worker who believed that museums were hiding the bones of these giants.

        Reply
    7. Temperance

      The church I attended as a child actually pushed the idea that Satan created fossils in order to trick us into not loving God. Yeah, I don’t get it.

      Reply
      1. alice

        I never understood why God, if all powerful, could not have created dinosaurs. The bible makes no mention of them but the bible was written by humans (and then a bunch of men decided what to include and what not to include) far after the world was created.

        Reply
      2. MissPettyAndVindictive

        Might just be me, but I feel like that is way more effort than Satan would be willing to put in.
        (n.b. I am not of a Judaeo-christian faith, so I don’t know if Satan is represented in the Bible as being like this, but I dunno, what I’ve heard of his characterisation I feel like he’d not want to put that much effort in.)

        Reply
        1. Loud Noises

          According to my very religious upbringing he would most definitely put that effort in, but would not have the power. He could only destroy, not create.

          Reply
    8. LabGirl

      I work in a lab and had a fellow scientist tell me the same “You know, those are just all made up. They paleontologists find tiny little fragments of bone and then just throw them into a huge plaster mold and say that’s what the bone was originally. It’s all just supposed to fool us.”

      Then, same job, different scientist, laughed at me when evolution came up during a discussion and asked “So you think were descended from monkeys?!?” I calmly replied “No, but I believe we share a common ancestor”. Why do people think that’s OK? I don’t point out and laugh at your belief systems. I’m not even going to get into a discussion of belief systems vs. science!

      Reply
      1. Annoyed

        Oh the “descended from monkeys” thing. Also the “why are there still monkeys/apes then” argument. They make me feel stabby with their ignorance (literally) and arrogance in that ignorance.

        Reply
        1. alice

          I once made this argument but in my defence I was seven and our teacher had actually told us we were descended from monkeys not that we have a common ancestor.

          Reply
          1. RUKiddingMe

            As a seven year old of course that’s a earning experience, plus you had a pretty ill-informed teacher.

            The “why are there still monkeys/apes” question annoys me. Well maybe because not all species are just desperately trying to become human?! I’m almost past the point of feeling the need to educate the ignorant though. Almost. It’s been … oh god … 38 years (!) and these days I’m usually just too tired to even begin correcting people.

            I was allowed to read Coming of Age in Samoa when I was eight. Naturally I didn’t understand the vast majority of it even with my way higher than age/grade level reading ability. I did understand that she was an anthropologist and was studying people who were much different than myself and anyone I knew, and I knew right then that that’s what I wanted to do. The only other thing I ever gave serious consideration to was law school. I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I wanted to be a judge but I figured that actually knowing the law would be if not actually a requirement at least a good idea.

            Reply
            1. Been there, seen that, the T-Shirt doesn't fit

              [I wanted to be a judge but I figured that actually knowing the law would be if not actually a requirement at least a good idea.]

              PLEASE tell that to some of the judges I know!

              Reply
    9. BadWolf

      Actually, this is the best reasoning behind dinosaurs not existing that I’ve come across. I still think it’s weird, but it makes more sense to me than being planted by the devil.

      Reply
    10. Seespotbitejane

      I just had dinner with a friend who was raised very fundamentalist and she was furious that she had just learned that a lot of North America used to be underwater and that’s why (for instance) people sometimes find seashell fossils in Kansas. She’s very angry about what else she doesn’t know that she doesn’t know.

      Reply
      1. alice

        I admit I didn’t know that and I wasn’t raised fundamentalist I believe in dinosaurs and evolution etc (something I never had to clarify until I moved here, though technically Christian my country is largely secular and non-religious). I am not American though so that is going to be my defence for not knowing that.

        Reply
      2. poolgirl

        Usually Fundamentalists explain those as coming from when the earth was flooded…..consistent with their beliefs. Her anger makes me wonder if that is making her question things.

        Reply
    11. Beancounter in Texas

      Was she from Texas? Cuz there’s a Creation Evidence Museum of Texas in Glen Rose and a Discovery Center/Creation Emporium in Abilene to “prove” creationism over evolution.

      (We’re not all creationists; just the Bible Belt.)

      Reply
    12. MissPettyAndVindictive

      Fiance has family who believe (or at least at the time this happened they did) that, and I have one hell of a story about it.

      Fiance is sitting at a family get together playing Plants versus Zombies on his laptop. Youngest son from said family comes to watch what he is doing. He’s about 6. Asks what the game is. Fiance tells him. And then the conversation goes like this:
      “Wait, what are zombies?”
      “They’re people who died and came back to life. But they aren’t really alive – they came back wrong. They eat brains.”
      “Oh, okay.” *long pause* “….JESUS IS A ZOMBIE”
      “Uh, that isn’t really-”
      “DOES JESUS EAT BRAINS?! MUM, MUM, WHY DIDN’T FATHER SMITH TELL US THAT AT CHURCH?? JESUS IS AWESOME. CAN I EAT BRAINS LIKE JESUS??”

      Reply
      1. Ego Chamber

        So I really, really f#cking hate kids (the idea of kids, individual kids, just everything about them squicks me), but then I go and read something like this and my cold, dead, dried-up heart grows 3 sizes.

        Reply
    13. Julianne (also a teacher)

      OMG, I have so many student teacher stories (about fellow student teachers, I have not yet had one of my own).

      -The early childhood ST who shared her anti-vax views, as well as her beliefs about how the government is run by the Illuminati and/or lizard people, with her students’ parents.
      -The one who lied to her cooperating teacher about her start date after she forgot to show up for the first two days, and then later to the university about her ending date so she could go to an amusement park with her friends instead of the last day of student teaching.
      -Dude who just randomly failed to show up at least once per week for the first/only month of his student teaching.
      -So many sartorial choices: button down shirt and tie plus filthy sweatpants; jeans with holes on the butt cheek region; skintight clubwear; shorts paired with St. Patrick’s Day novelty socks that had little pints of beer scattered among the shamrocks.

      Reply
    14. Caitlyn

      This is not as uncommon as you may think. My mother and stepfather are 7th-day Adventists and sent me to a private religious school for middle school. Our science book opened with a chapter on creationism and espoused that the world is only a few thousand years old (per the bible) and that any scientific “evidence” to the contrary was placed there by Satan to confuse us and turn us away from God. They asserted that dinosaurs and humans co-existed. I honestly think this is part of why Trump is able to so easily sway conservatives into believing the media is out to get them with fake news. Many of them already believe that society is trying to trick them with the “facts” to turn away from God. There is no reasoning with this mentality (because it has no reason). Scary stuff.

      Reply
  3. sequitur

    I noticed one of our interns last year falling asleep in an all hands meeting. When I mentioned this to the intern manager, it turned out that the intern had a habit of falling asleep in meetings…including his own one to one meetings with his manager. I felt bad for him in case it was a medical issue that he wasn’t willing or able to articulate, but it’s not a huge surprise that we didn’t offer him a job after he graduated.

    Reply
    1. Ashlee

      We had one of those. She was the daughter of a donor. The internship was from June 1st- August 31st. Except she had planned a trip to China and missed all of June. When she finally started, she wore a hoodie everyday (our dress code is business casual) and she would sleep at the curtator’s desk. But no one would say anything because her parents were donors.

      Her older sister also interned for us a few years earlier and ended up getting stitches because she was “popping wheelies” in one of our wheelchairs, flipped backwards and gashed open her head. There was also a son, but he was actually a great intern, did a huge amount of cataloging and sorting while he was here. He did have rainbow colored hair, which we are not supposed to have because a part-timer came in that way one day and was told she couldn’t work until she changed her hair, but again, child of a donor so…

      (Our professional appearance policy states: Extreme forms of dress, hairstyle and makeup are not acceptable. )

      Reply
      1. Observer

        Eh, I’m no fan of rainbow hair, and the like. But I don’t think that it’s necessary to ask an unpaid summer intern to get rid of it unless the kid is in a really public facing role.

        Reply
      1. JanetM

        If you are tired enough… I once fell asleep while reading out loud. In my defense, I was reading a textbook about plywood. (I was a reader for visually impaired or learning disabled students when I was in college. Also a notetaker for visually impaired students.)

        Reply
        1. Chinookwind

          Wow, I thought proofreading procedures on how to watch paint dry ( the application and testing of liquid pipe coating that was half instructions to tell if it is dry enough enough to apply a second coat) was sleep inducing, but a book on plywood beats that. The only reason I didn’t fall asleep is that I petitioned my boss to let me sit outside in the fresh air while proofing the document and he agreed.

          Reply
        2. MM

          I fell asleep during a conference I was running, while typing notes on what people were saying into a Word document that was being projected on the big screen. There was no way for anyone in that room not to notice as my typing devolved. Still one of the worst moments of my professional life.

          Reply
      2. Hapless Bureaucrat

        Totally possible. I used to fall asleep while I was standing up, singing. Yes, it was absolutely a medical issue.
        At work, I developed a lot of work-arounds to try and mitigate it but I still had a couple embarrassing moments.
        I will say though, all- hands meetings are dire for everyone. One of the things I love best about my current employer is that we’re have a meeting culture that encourages you to just stand up and move to a wall to keep listening when you need to.

        Reply
        1. Quackeen

          When my younger son was about 4, we took the train to the Children’s Museum and had a full day, then took the train back. Walking home at the end up the day, the poor kid was so tired that he was nodding off while walking!

          Reply
          1. Chicken Little

            While in basic training for the U.S. Air Force, I fell asleep at attention, during a Very Important Inspection. Woke up just as the officers approached me and they never noticed.

            Reply
      3. The New Wanderer

        In high school, I met with my guidance counselor. Her office was very dimly lit and her voice was soft and gravelly. I was sleep deprived (because high school) and while I didn’t fall asleep, I came very close to it. She reported to my parents that I was disinterested in college (the topic we met on) because I was so clearly checked out of the conversation.

        Reply
      4. Somniloquist

        I’ve fallen asleep in one on ones. I had an undiagnosed medical issue and it hasn’t been a problem since I got treatment.

        I’m almost positive I got away with it since I would have expected my manager to bring it up or ask me to wake up. I had a habit of making it look like I was taking notes but I was actually asleep.

        Reply
        1. Episkey

          Ha! I did this in college/grad school in extremely boring classes when I was super tired. You could go back and look at my notebook and it was all just gibberish because I was 3/4 of the way asleep, but it looked like I was taking notes on the lecture.

          Reply
          1. Peaches

            This definitely happened to me in college as well! A few times, I was reviewing my notes later on and there would be a half a sentence, then a pen line dragging down several lines of the page.

            Reply
            1. Shoes on My Cat

              Well met fellow line-maker!! That was so me!! Plus the baseball cap and specific row up from the floor so that sleepy head droop looked like attentive note-taking to professor. Erp!

              Reply
          2. Book Badger

            I did this sometimes in college/grad school even if the class wasn’t boring. Fascinating results, though, because not only would I write total gibberish, but what words you could make out would be completely nonsensical (like “ghevwxhf bubble moose law? zbrwjdks”).

            Reply
          3. TardyTardis

            Unless I was right up where people could see what I was writing, when I was too bored to take real notes I would write outlines of the book I planned to work on next. Trust me, it was *always* way more exciting than what was actually going on.

            Reply
      5. Red 5

        I could probably manage it, but I have a sleep disorder that was undiagnosed and untreated for about 20 years so….

        Seriously though, if people run into this kind of thing it could be that the intern actually does have a disorder but their medical professionals aren’t taking it seriously and aren’t helping them, and that’s why they haven’t said. Narcolepsy specifically (not what I have but similar) often starts showing symptoms when you’re a teenager but everybody just assumes teens/early 20’s kids are “lazy” or whatever and they don’t get diagnosed or get treatment for many, many years. The _average_ time to diagnose is something like 15 years.

        That said, it’s still up to the person to manage their own life and cope with their own challenges, so you know, don’t just let them sleep through one-on-ones without mentioning that’s not going to work out well for them.

        Reply
    2. never going home

      I had that. I actually had two of them. I was doing 1:1 training and they kept falling asleep!

      I have had a few bouts of my own “nodding off at work” for a couple months at a time over the years, so I understood, but honestly, at least apologize for doing it!

      Reply
    3. Wendy Darling

      I had a colleague who kept zoning out and/or falling asleep at inappropriate times and was on a PIP until he was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy. :( Apparently narcolepsy is REALLY rough.

      He ended up having to take a LOT of leave and being moved to a different job at the company because his original job it was just not feasible to be out as much as he was, but the new job ended up being a totally amazing fit for him, so at least that ended reasonably well?

      Reply
      1. Red 5

        This is exactly what I brought up in my comment : ) Narcolepsy and hypersomnias are a real beast to deal with, and it’s super hard to find the fine line between what’s reasonable to expect of someone with the disorder and what’s reasonable accommodation. Before I was diagnosed I definitely got in my fair share of trouble with employers.

        It doesn’t help that popular media depictions of narcolepsy are not at all accurate and are almost always played for laughs.

        Reply
  4. Amber Rose

    Sigh. Our summer college kids (the closest we get to interns) are always great guys who work really hard, which is awesome, but leaves me lacking weird stories.

    I’m counting on the rest of you to give me a few laughs this morning.

    Reply
    1. Ruth (UK)

      Same. I work in university admin and we had a handful of interns over the summer and a work experience kid (15 year old) for a week. However, no wacky stories. The work experience kid was quite shy and the interns were generally good/capable.

      One got the wrong room for a meeting and sat on her own in the room for about 15 minutes until someone came across her, but that’s as wild as it gets.

      Reply
    2. CMart

      Honestly. The intern in my group this summer wrote us all thank you notes and delivered them to our desks with cupcakes from her mom’s bakery on her last day to express her appreciation for all the new knowledge and experience she gained. We took her out for fancy lunch to thank her for all her hard, valuable work.

      I can buy my own cupcake. I can’t manufacture 8-12 weeks of silent entertainment watching an inappropriate intern bumble their way through. We need to start hiring less competent people.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        Ours stopped by my desk and shook my hand on their last day and thanked me for everything. I told them I was the one thankful for their hard work, and they looked all happy and it was so sweet.

        Maybe we need a “heartwarming stories” open thread one of these days.

        Reply
        1. Rainy

          Not an intern, but my partner had a kid in training at his workplace who at the end of his first day, went around and kissed all the women’s hands.

          He did not last.

          Reply
          1. pope suburban

            I would be deeply, deeply afraid that I’d smack the kid in the face on pure reflex. Not because I think that’s okay workplace behavior, not because I think it’s cool, but because OMG what are you doing with my hand get away from that!

            Reply
          2. Alli525

            Oh boy. One of the first people I met in college had a habit of doing this in social settings… he sort of fancies himself a Southern gentleman/old soul, but he’s so genuinely pure of heart and well-intentioned (he’s now a priest) that I tried really hard not to be mad at him. He knocked it off after a couple of years, and clearly doesn’t do that anymore (an especially bad look for a priest).

            Reply
            1. Rainy

              I had a pasttime as a younger woman where men kissed hands a lot, and it was charming the first 3 times and then I started yanking my hand back when I realized it was going to happen.

              Reply
        2. Chinookwind

          I had a couple of engineering interns give me, the admin assistant, thank you gifts when they left. They appreciated that I showed them all sorts of things to “make them a good employee/colleague” (like refilling copier when out of paper and how to tell if the food is for a meeting for anyone to eat) as well as parts of their actual job. It warmed my heart that they saw the value of an admin assistant so early on.

          Reply
    3. emma

      SAME. My boss is on the board of directors of a local university so our interns tend to be students of said university and they’re always amazing. :(

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        We donate our product yearly to the local college and work with them to hire summer students, so we tend to hire kids who have already been using our equipment in class. They come to us pre-trained. It’s very convenient.

        Reply
    4. DCGirl

      Two jobs ago, the company hired the college-aged son of one the marketing vice presidents and put him in the finance department. He looked so much like his father we all took to calling him Fred’s Mini Me. Finance was trying to go paperless and needed to scan years and years worth of files. Mini Me got the thankless and mind-numbingly tedious job of scanning files. To his everlasting credit, he came in early and stood at the copy machine and scanned for three hours every morning before moving on to his other assignments. You’d see him there every morning, patiently scanning file after file. This was the same year that another intern (legendarily) flounced into the COO’s office to complain that he wasn’t being given interesting work to do, so Mini Me’s positive attitude and work ethic really stuck out. I’m sure he’s going to do well in life.

      Reply
      1. Just Employed Here

        I, too, had a summer worker this year who actually did the boring tasks (scanning papers, filing them, descaling the fancy coffee machine whenever it started complaining, etc.) It was very refreshing to have a temp there who actually did what you asked, without having to be prompted!

        He also understood some of the more complex stuff better than some team members who have been there for years… Sigh.

        Reply
    5. De Minimis

      Yeah, I’m the same way, some of the students I’ve worked with have some of the typical habits of people who are just getting used to the working world, but no good stories at all!

      We did have one that kind of ghosted us, but we weren’t planning to have him return anyway.

      Reply
    6. Dr. Doll

      Yeah, me too — our students assistants are Da Bomb, almost without exception. Anyone on AAM would be thrilled to hire them. I don’t have good stories but I am okay with an easy, boring work life!

      Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          This is why “May you be born in interesting times” is a curse. Because living in a Golden Age where the copier never breaks down is unexciting, while struggling through a disaster makes for an engaging narrative. (Tendency I regularly note since it was first pointed out to me–negative restaurant reviews make heavy use of the first person. It’s bad things that happened TO ME. And then they KEPT HAPPENING.)

          I think “an office that provides no fodder for interesting AAM letters” is the dream around here.

          Reply
      1. De Minimis

        Yeah, most of ours were great too, we had some of them work with us for most of their college careers, and at least a few of them ended up working full-time with us for years afterward.

        Reply
      2. Alli525

        Same here. We’ve had interns so fabulous that I actually get upset that I can’t be a reference for them, because the dept asst is the intern coordinator and their direct supervisor. When they ask me, I do tell them I’m happy to help if they need MORE than one reference from our department.

        Reply
    7. designbot

      Agreed. The weirdest one I can think of is entirely attributable to my boss. He is terribly disrespectful to the people around him, never reading the room on when someone’s trying to focus or considering that it may not be a good time to interrupt, and I can see our intern clearly following his example.

      Reply
    8. This Daydreamer

      I work at a social service nonprofit, so we get the ones who are eager to help save the world and are ready to wear many hats. Sometimes we get the grad students on the way to being social workers. We always hate to see them move on.

      So y’all are going to have to come up with funny stories to make up for the awesome interns i deal with.

      Reply
    9. SeluciaMD

      Mine as well. We get full-time, full-semester unpaid interns from one particular program at a local University and they have all been STELLAR. Seriously – most of them have run circles around our Master’s level interns. We’ve had about 8 over the last three years and we’ve hired every one of them we’ve been able to (and would have gladly hired the others if we’d had any openings.) Frankly, having one of these lovely students in my office every semester makes my job feasible and keeps my stress level manageable. They are THE BEST.

      I have only good stories of how they were wizards with tough projects, worked hard, were fun and well-liked, and were so gracious at the end of their time with us. Our whole office loves these interns and is eager to learn as the new semester draws near what awesome student we’re going to have working for us next.

      Reply
    10. Been there, seen that, the T-Shirt doesn't fit

      Well, not really funny, but I worked in the admissions office one summer at university. Also kept a perpetual pitcher of screwdrivers (vodka & orange juice) in my apartment fridge. I never worked sober in the afternoon the entire summer & nobody noticed.

      Reply
  5. Hiring Mgr

    Seems strange to pick a group of people who are already at the bottom of the ladder to make fun of but i understand this is amusing for some folks

    Reply
    1. Namelesscommentator

      I’m here. If you supervise an intern it’s your job to help them learn. And if they don’t learn – they’re not the ones who did a bad job this summer.

      Reply
      1. AnonforThis

        It depends. For instance, there are some basic things an intern should know. My spouse once dealt with a college intern showing up to an internship reeking of pot. I don’t think it reflected badly on him as a supervisor that he didn’t specifically tell the intern “being high at work is bad” before the student did it.

        Reply
        1. I Herd the Cats

          We had interns cleaning up after a board meeting late on a Thursday afternoon and at some point I realized they were in the catering kitchen playing quarters (we had solo cups and leftover beer in the fridge from another event.) I didn’t report them to anybody. I have kids their age, I just walked in and said “No! You don’t do that at work!” Hopefully they’ll remember at their next job.

          Reply
        2. Chinookwind

          Wait, “being high/drunk at work is bad” is not a regular part of most companies’ on-boarding processes? It has been everywhere I have worked and usually emphasizes that that includes off-site business meetings and parties. I know there is a push on up here to ensure that it is a standard warning with legalization of marijuana less than a month away.

          Reply
          1. designbot

            It was part of the onboarding process when I was a cashier at a hardware store. Nobody’s ever mentioned it in an office setting, you’re just supposed to show up already knowing that.

            Reply
          2. Bea

            It’s in the handbook nobody ever reads (except me because I’m paranoid about breaking rules and hate asking “is tomorrow a paid holiday…do we work?” kind of stuff)

            I’ve never mentioned it onboarding, it’s a “if you’re dumb enough to try it, you’re too dumb for me to not fire.”

            Reply
          3. MissPettyAndVindictive

            When I started my current job I got the line “Please don’t keep a bottle of alcohol in your bottom desk drawer and drink it through the day, cause we have to fire people that do that”

            Reply
      2. LadyPhoenix

        What about the one where the OP’s intern made a 9/11 joke out of the blue? Was that their fault?

        Sometimes you can manage an intern to make their reaponsible and accountable… and then we get some of these other interns who—for whatever reason—does what they want and screw things up.

        Reply
      3. Annie Moose

        If someone isn’t willing to learn, then yes, they are doing a bad job. Interns are not small children; they’re generally adults (at least 18+ years old). Young adults who might not have a good grasp on the working world, yes, but still adults, who should be capable of listening to instruction when it’s given. If they disregard it, that’s their decision, and any consequences they suffer as a result of their decision are also their fault.

        I was an intern once! I did dumb stuff! I got gently told to stop doing dumb stuff. I learned my lesson and stopped doing dumb stuff.

        Reply
      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        I used to think this, but having had an out of control intern, I now believe that there are people who are unreachable, even when you do your best to assist them.

        Reply
        1. Lance

          Oh yes. No matter how hard you work, if someone just isn’t willing to make an effort to work, improve, or change at all, that’s on them, pure and simple.

          Reply
        2. Zennish

          Yep. I’ve had, for example, interns who didn’t get that…

          Even if the businesses have very similar sounding names, you still need to mail the package to the right one, every single time.
          Being too high to work does not constitute sick time.
          Refusing to find childcare (for weeks on end) does not constitute sick time.
          “I didn’t know how to dial your extension” (when you also have my email and cell number) is not an acceptable reason for an unexcused absence.
          “I had to do some stuff” is not an acceptable reason for an unexcused absence.

          I don’t do interns any more.

          Reply
      5. AMac

        This is not true at all – especially for graduate students. Our internship is considered a long interview. It is not my job to tell people in graduate studies how to be professional and act in a professional setting. If they cannot do that at this point in their life they will not be hired – period.

        Reply
        1. GreenDoor

          This is a really horrible attitude. Graduate students are coming off of school…and living with parents….and life on social media. All of which teach some habits that may be acceptable at home or online or in a classroom setting, but which are not acceptable in the workplace. I remember college. I didn’t have a single course specifically telling me that my boss will not hold my hand through every decision, or that “U R Gr8” is not an appropriate way to write business correspondence.

          These are the kinds of things that younger, inexperienced workers need coaching with. That’s what internships are for – an opportunity to learn professional norms.

          Reply
          1. Cheryl Blossom

            I remember college. I didn’t have a single course specifically telling me that my boss will not hold my hand through every decision, or that “U R Gr8” is not an appropriate way to write business correspondence.

            I also remember college. My professors didn’t specifically tell me that my bosses wouldn’t hold my hand through decisions, but then again, most of them weren’t hand-holding types. And many of them talked about the appropriate way to email professors, what a LinkedIn should look like, and warned about how your Facebook should be cleaned up because future employers will be looking at it.

            Things I didn’t know going into my first office job and internships: how to use a copier, how to use Outlook calendars, how to navigate office politics, the value of an admin assistant, etc. etc. etc.

            Things I did know going into my first office job and internships: show up when you say you will and call in advance if you can’t, dress in clothes that are neat and clean (and professional, if required), have a good attitude.

            Reply
            1. Shoes on My Cat

              +1,000! THIS! Our professors were a mix of tenure-with books out on our profession used by those in our profession- & actual semi-retired professionals including a CEO troubleshooter. The top tier courses included dressing the part, interviews and actual supervised practical experience where the person you shadowed reported back on you and it affected your grade. Senior to JANITORIAL. They were hard core and IF you graduated, job offers out the wazoo.

              Reply
          2. Mpls

            By the time a person has made it to graduate school, they are very likely to have rented an apartment, had a roommate, needed some sort of income source (summer job, part time on-campus job, etc.), and had access to social media (and the subsequent warnings and pitfalls) for most of their adolescent and adult lives. They’ll have had experience in the difference between what’s acceptable for a paper or applying to a program/school and what’s better left for friends.

            Internships are for interns to learn about the professional world, but that doesn’t mean that all professional norms need to be explicitly spelled out either.
            The intern is basically a professional student by that point – they should be able to observe and absorb and figure out what is or is not acceptable. The same way they figured out what was acceptable in HS wasn’t applicable in college. Or what was okay for Prof Steve wasn’t cool with Professor Smith.

            Reply
          3. Clisby Williams

            How did they get to graduate school without learning these things? Honestly, I’d give the side-eye to a high school graduate who hadn’t figured this stuff out.

            Reply
          4. Kay

            Really? Is this an American thing? Because I don’t know a single person who wasn’t at some point working through their university degree or at least savvy enough to pick up the basics of business ettiquette. ESPECIALLY if they’re onto graduate studies. Maybe not things like not always getting feedback, but knowing to use formal language at least at first? I feel like that’s common sense. Also I feel like, and again maybe this is an Australian thing, but my university has a billion resources for professional writing etc. They’re not ‘courses’ but if you wanted to find out there’s tons of information.

            Reply
            1. Perse's Mom

              I think it’s perhaps a ‘far too sheltered’ or ‘doesn’t pay attention’ thing. I’m American and I managed to figure out all on my own that I needed to show up on time, not sleep on the furniture, wear clean clothing, and not use text speak in official business emails. Billions of people all over the world have figured this out.

              Reply
          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I have never met a grad student who lived at home (I have met one law student who did). Although I’m sure a non-zero number of grad students do, indeed, live at home with their parents, I do not think they’re entitled to the same leeway that applies to undergraduate interns. I really think it’s a disservice to set expectations so low that we assume someone at the graduate level has so little professional capacity that they require a course on how not to write in text-speak for business correspondence.

            Reply
          6. Random Obsessions

            Most colleges and universities have career services or similarly titled departments which offer events throughout the year and information on their websites about the working world and professional expectations in addition to the cover letter/resume and interview help.
            While some of the self-marketing tips (e.g. gimmicks for getting the job, un-researched letter/resume advice) may be hacky, not all of it is and students are able to avail themselves to this free of charge since it’s paid for by their student fees.
            At some schools, these services are even offered to alumni during the summer months free of charge.

            Reply
      6. Triplestep

        I don’t know. I had an intern during a time when I had wall to wall work and he was not an asset. Just focused on whatever he wanted and not what I’d directed him to do. I would get to work at 7am and send him a bunch of e-mails to keep him busy when he got in at 9am. Once I wandered over to his desk at 9:30 and asked him if he had any questions. He had not turned on his computer yet.

        I don’t’ feel like I needed to tell him that one turns on the computer when one arrives at work (and doesn’t sit idle for a half hour) after his having been there for a month. Was that me doing a bad job as his manager?

        Reply
        1. GreenDoor

          I would say…kind of. That intern probably looked around and saw co-workers chit-chatting, taking their time pouring coffee, reading the news….and likely thought that dilly-dallying at the start of the workday is normal and OK. By not correcting him and pointing out that it looks far more impressive to your supervisors if you knuckle under and actually work at work, you kind of let him pick up the bad habits of those around him.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            I mean…do people at your work generally take a full half an hour to get coffee and say good morning before they even turn on the computer? Because that’s not at all the norm anywhere I’ve worked. Five minutes, sure. Even ten minutes. But not half an hour.

            Honestly, I’m really not sure why you’re so intent on assuming that interns are all completely clueless children who need a work mommy to hold their hand and tell them simple, basic things like “When you arrive at work, you should turn on your computer,” or “please do not do illegal substances at work,” and then blaming the managers for not being sufficiently hyper-specific about the most basic aspects of having a job. Yes, interns are there to learn, and a lot of it is learning professional behavior norms – but we’re still talking about, at a minimum, 18-20 year olds. If we’re talking grad students, they’re going to be mid-twenties at least. They’re not 12-year-olds, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that they will have some concept of adult behavior like “while you’re at work, you should spend your time doing work” or “don’t do drugs on the job” and not need hand-held on those foundational concepts.

            Reply
        2. Mimi Me

          I had a young employee who used to invite her boyfriend to work so she and him could make out. On the sales floor during her shift. I still remember her vacant expression when I pulled her aside to tell her that this was not okay. She stared at me for a good 30 seconds before saying , “but I love him.” I still don’t know what she expected me to say to that.

          Reply
          1. EvilQueenRegina

            My ex coworker B did something similar. She’d wait until everyone in the office she was working in at the time happened to be out, then ring up the boyfriend P (who worked in another department upstairs) and invite him down to make out. She got into trouble for that, and her response was to scream at another coworker E (who happened to have dated that guy when they were 14 years old) who had happened to walk in on it once, accusing her of having reported it. Except it wasn’t E who had done it, and she was at a loss as to why she was being screamed at.

            B was eventually moved into a different office which was less likely to be empty during the day (that had been going to happen anyway for unrelated reasons).

            Reply
        3. MassMatt

          I fall somewhere in between the extremes posting here, on one side “if you don’t know how to behave at work as an intern then it’s your problem” and the other “interns are there to learn, maybe no one taught them about sandwiches!”.

          What did you say to the intern who wasn’t turning on his computer or doing what you asked him to do? Did you MANAGE him, saying you need to do x and y? Did you spell out consequences, and follow through? Or did you just roll your eyes, figure he was useless, and ignore him for the rest of the internship? If he was terrible and didn’t improve, why was he kept on?

          All too often postings talk about terrible interns (and employees) yet there seems to be very little managing of them, or consequences for bad behavior. To me this says the issue is less bad interns/employees and more bad/dysfunctional workplaces and managers.

          Managers dislike having uncomfortable conversations, and many employers are absurdly afraid of being sued, but if you can’t tell an intern don’t wear pajamas, and do your work, and fire them if need be, then don’t be surprised by continued ridiculous behavior.

          Reply
      7. Kay

        I don’t think that’s true. I’m still new to the workplace and half the stuff that people write about here I would never in a million years do. Some people just lack common sense or clearly don’t understand the basics of a work environment. It has nothing to do with how good supervision is. You shouldn’t need your supervisor to say ‘hey, don’t sleep at your desk in the middle of a work day’. That should be obvious.

        Reply
    2. lost academic

      I don’t know that this is about making fun of people, but highlighting things that can and do go wrong with inexperienced workers can be very helpful for those of us as we get older in the future and are less connected with what it’s like to have your first work experience and the things we think Everyone Already Knows – I think it probably helps us be more tolerant and teaching focused rather than reactionary and negative in our own spheres.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        The head-shaking stories are usually ones where either the problem was pointed out, and someone doubled down (which is totally different to observe in a low-ranking worker compared to the CEO), or those in which the behavior really is so bizarre you wonder how they thought of it. Like, after deciding that they needed to set up a cot by their desk to allow for the company’s odd lack of post-lunch napping spaces, they decided that a professional cot should have shams.

        Reply
      2. Jadelyn

        It’s also helpful for those of us who’ve never managed interns or really really entry-level staff before, to know some of the pitfalls to potentially expect and have some scripts ready for how to handle it if it comes up (and some examples of how not to handle it).

        Reply
    3. ExcelJedi

      Yeah, this one feels like a dud. If it was things WE did as interns, I’d be down, but it doesn’t feel good to laugh at others’ stumbles as they figure out what ‘professionalism’ means.

      Reply
      1. Det. Charles Boyle

        I love these stories of interns behaving in nutty or unusual ways. Interns, coworkers, managers — if it’s funny, I want to hear it!

        Reply
      2. Thursday Next

        Yes, I was just about to post this–people sharing their own stories of being interns (and a couple of people here have done so) would be different.

        There are some things interns don’t know by virtue of being inexperienced, and it’s good to talk about these so that mid- or late-career people can have some reminders that hey, some things do need to be learned, and that’s just a part of entering the workforce, not a character flaw.

        But there are some stories where it seems like the problem was misogyny, or anti-scientific fervor, and it’s not really fair to interns as a category to say “those darn interns” when the issue wasn’t their lack of experience, but their bigotry.

        Reply
        1. selina kyle

          Wonderful points all around but I especially like how you articulated the difference in some of these stories where the issues with the interns are about issues far beyond them BEING the intern.

          Reply
    4. selina kyle

      Agreed, it feels mean spirited. Even the ones where the intern in question was full of themselves – it’s the company and their bosses job to help guide them away from that :/

      Reply
      1. Shay

        Not so much mean spirited … just a light-hearted look at some folks lacking in common sense (no, I don’t need to tell you that you cannot come to work stoned).

        Reply
      2. Anna

        I work directly with the young people who are going out there and making these mistakes. My job is to make sure they make as few of them as possible. I laugh or I would scream. Because you show them, you explain, you demonstrate, you model, you guide, you tutor, you mentor, and sometimes it makes no difference. I literally use these stories to demonstrate to my students what not to do. So call it mean spirited, but those of us in the trenches actually appreciate them.

        Reply
    5. Not a Blossom

      There are certain things that people who are old enough to be interns should understand. (Heck, things that people in middle school should be able to understand.) Not knowing office norms is one thing; somehow thinking a home tattoo or sleeping under the front desk is completely different.

      Reply
      1. GreenDoor

        But that’s why these stories are helpful. There are some “mistakes” that a manager should forgive but use as a teachable moment….and mistakes that should be grounds for dismisal from the program or take them out of the running for permanent hire. Sometimes it’s hard for a manager to calibrate how much grace to give and these stories and advice help!

        Reply
    6. Cochrane

      Not only that, but most of the internships that I was familiar with coming up were all unpaid. If you’re counting on free labor for the price of filling out a few forms, they’re not all going to be winners.

      Reply
      1. Observer

        That’s true. But there is a difference, to take an example from up-thread, between overlooking a kid who shows up with rainbow hair in a “business casual” environment and one who “pops wheelies” in a wheelchair – that doesn’t even belong to them!

        Reply
        1. GreenDoor

          But the “you get what you pay for” rule doesn’t actually apply here. It’s not that “you’re getting free labor so you shouldn’t be surprised or upset if an intern screws up/acts weird.” There are plenty of people who are willing to do an unpaid internship because they value the opportunity to learn, network, and get real life experience more than they value being paid. For those interns, the company owes them that experience and mentorship in exchange for the unpaid labor – which should include appopriate redirecting or discipline where warranted.

          Reply
    7. Bea

      I think as long as they’re light hearted, it’s fine. We all have those moments to look back fondly on.

      I’ll tell stories on myself as a fresh to work file clerk. It’s the same as “kids say the darndest things.”

      Reply
    8. Moose

      Just like there are CEOs and senior supervisors who are weird or nightmares, there can be interns or entry-level people that are. All people can be weird. This isn’t about making fun of people because they’re new or at the bottom of the ladder, it’s anonymous stories about weird people.

      Reply
        1. Moose

          I don’t think so–there are stories about weird and terrible bosses and coworkers on here all the time. A lot of the comments here are people telling stories about themselves, too! I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I’d like to think someone got a good story out of it. :)

          Reply
            1. Mike C.

              But that’s punching up and an expression of frustration because we cannot do anything about those problems.

              With the interns, we can generally do a whole lot about the problems.

              Reply
        2. Washi

          I think summer intern stories tend to be particularly hilarious not so much because of punching down and more because there’s usually more variation in intern quality due to their inexperience and often a less rigorous hiring/firing process since they are temporary. So most interns are on the normal part of the spectrum with some awkward mistakes that don’t really make a good story (“lol my intern was so uncomfortable networking!” is not a story I would expect to see here.) But then you have a few doozies where the other intern qualities combines with an unusual lack of common sense to spectacular result. I’m finding the reaction to these stories to be more “wow, life is a rich tapestry” than mean-spirited punching down.

          Reply
          1. Lissa

            I agree. I mean I get that not every thread/post will be for everyone (I always collapse the inevitable top-level comment about popcorn but a lot of people love that type of discussion for instance!) But I don’t see this as any more mean-spirited than anything else really – it’s anonymous stories about anonymous people, and stories that are nasty tend to get called out pretty roundly from what I’ve seen.

            Reply
        3. Annoyed

          I get what you’re saying. I don’t think it’s “punching down” though.

          With “punching down” it’s usually aimed at people who are different than what is considered “default” by the larger society (e.g. men/women, caucasian/POC, Christian/any other religion…).

          Women can’t change being women (not getting into a discussion about trans folks…that’s a whole other topic).

          The average person can’t change the color of their skin or their ethnicity. One *can* change their religion but most people don’t.

          With “punching down” those people are targeted for things that can’t be changed.

          Interns will grow up to become regular rank and file employees and some of them may even become CEOs at some point.

          So… it’s not like they’re being targeted for something that can’t ever change.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            No, it’s still punching down. The current power imbalance is what’s important here, not that the imbalance might go away. Otherwise management dating employees would be perfectly fine (the employee could be promoted some day!).

            Reply
            1. RUKiddingMe

              Except that management dating junior staff in real life is a bit different than a bunch of people on a relatively anonymous blog/chat/forum sharing stories without naming names. No one is being actively harmed or put into a power balance/compromise position here.

              Reply
    9. Cacwgrl

      We provide extensive safety, ethics, professionalism, etc training to our new hires. 6 weeks worth. We give them very specific dos and don’t as well as a direct link to the ethics lawyers and very specific peer mentor assignments, along with very specific guidance about what is and is not allowed while working for a Federal employer, especially considering what is allowed in this state. If, after all of that, you choose to smoke illegal substances in the main lobby bathroom of the secure building in which you work and the security guard just happens upon you, I’m going to remove you without zero hesitation or regret. If you order a pitcher of beer at a regular lunch, after being coached by your mentor and supervisors to not do, we’re going to remove you for a continued showing of bad judgment. If you leave your access card to a secure building at your desk and instead of calling someone, you walk away from the gate guard and shimmy between two locked gate panels, you are being immedately removed for the security violation and badge judgement and I will use you as an example for what not to do for a long time. We attempt to take lessons learned to improve our hiring and orientation process every season and as long as the newbies continue to make these bad decisions, we will use their bad decisions, anonymously of course, for stories like this. No regrets.

      Reply
    10. Free Meerkats

      It’s not like the posters are saying, “Our intern, Delia Mercer, who interned for Tiphaine d’Ath of the Portland Protective Association during the Protector’s War used to take part in Clam Mackenzie rites when she was supposed to be in church.”

      If one recognizes oneself here, either the circumstances were really unique, or one is mistaken.

      Reply
    11. noot

      this is the first time on one of these posts that i’ve seen a giant thread of complaints about the topic. changing demographic of the blog?

      Reply
  6. AnonforThis

    This was when I was a fellow intern. But once, as a prosecutor’s intern, I had to explain to a fellow prosecutor’s intern why asking out the “cute defendant” was a bad idea. He was not joking, he really wanted to do that.

    Reply
      1. never going home

        Once, just once, I want batshit unprofessional behavior on TV shows to get someone fired. And for it not be played as “evil HR”.

        I also want a pony.

        Reply
        1. Merula

          It happened on Friends. Monica got fired for accepting a kickback, when she didn’t really understand what was going on or why it was a problem. She got mad about it, but my recollection is that it was presented as a “should have known better” rather than “evil HR”.

          Reply
        2. Bratmon

          In Parks and Rec, ben is fired from being Assistant City Manager because he and Leslie bribed a city employee to hide that they were sleeping together.

          Reply
    1. AMPG

      I was once on a grand jury (so several weeks in duration) and about halfway through one of my fellow jurors decided she was going to ask out the court reporter. Luckily she dropped that idea pretty quickly.

      Reply
      1. AnonforThis

        He was not so bright. He also once wrote a motion response draft but declined to cite the on-point, in jurisdiction, binding precedent because he “wanted to be creative”. I am not sure any of his motion work ended up being usable.

        Reply
        1. SusanIvanova

          Oh, no…

          I had that approach to my geometry classes – “there’s an obvious proof? OK, is there a less-obvious one?” But that’s the kind of class where finding alternate approaches is valid! He’d probably have been happier in that kind of career.

          Reply
    2. chicago123

      This reminds me of when I was interviewing for jobs the first summer after college. After my first interview, I got an email from a guy at an entry level sales job I had interviewed for asking me out. “I was the guy in the orange pants,” he wrote and “I was out in upstate New York this weekend hiking around the Adirondack mountains on a bachelor party, you came to mind.”…He mentioned that he had begged for my email from “Reese Witherspoon” in HR (name of course changed but he listed her FULL NAME!). I was floored and forwarded the email to the head of HR. Not sure what happened to him but I always laugh at how hilarious misguided that was.

      Reply
    3. Traffic_Spiral

      Ooh, legal interns! We had this one kid – not even a summer associate but a high school grad there as a favor to his dad for Reasons – who, in a meeting he had been allowed to sit in on with a potential client, offered to review her file for free.

      I was like: “Kiddo, you know how earlier today I asked you to proofread something, and you missed all the typos, but erroneously changed ‘advice’ to ‘advise?’ Well, here’s an example of that. You are not qualified to ADVISE the client – because you know nothing – and therefore you cannot be offering legal ADVICE. See?”

      Sweet kid, but god, was he useless.

      Reply
  7. beanie beans

    At my last job, a public agency, we threw a going away party for our intern when she finished her master’s. Someone asked her what she learned in her 6 months with us, and she responded “That I don’t want want to work for a public agency.”

    Reply
    1. Environmental Compliance

      To be fair, I wish I would have learned that as an intern rather than after a few years of working in public agencies. Would’ve saved me a lot of time.

      Reply
      1. booboo kitty

        Good for her! I was a director at a summer camp. We had a terrific counselor, first year, was an education major at school. She told me she was leaving after 4 weeks because she came to realize she hated working with kids and was changing her major to business. Better to find out early rather than late.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          One of the most important uses of early work experience.

          Okay, maybe she should have had a diplomatic cover answer, but I can think of lots of relationships where this sort of honesty would have been fine–it doesn’t mean you’re terrible coworkers for not selling public agencies better, but that you did a good job exposing her to the reality of the job.

          Reply
          1. Lilysparrow

            Enjoying kids in your family, or babysitting, is completely different from working with classes or groups of children when you have to stick to a schedule or accomplish a specific program or curriculum.

            I love my nieces and nephews. I love my kids. I enjoyed babysitting when I was young. I volunteered for years as a mentor for kids one-on-one or in small groups. Awesome.

            The 6 weeks I worked as an afterschool extracurricular teacher for classes of 15-30 kids? Circle of hell. Never, ever again.

            Reply
            1. Blue_eyes

              This. I studied education in college, got a teaching license, got a master’s degree. And THEN realized that I did not want to be a teacher. I wasted at least the first 4-5 years after college pursuing that track and I wish I had realized sooner that getting groups of tiny people to do what I need them to do is not one of my best skills.

              Reply
              1. MNDragonlady

                At the college I attended, every education major spent their sophomore January Term in an elementary or secondary school classroom, before they got too far into the classes for the major. I remember thinking what a great idea that was, making sure folks really wanted to teach before they’d spent time and money on coursework. The students weren’t full student teachers, but they did have opportunities to plan and teach lessons alongside the classroom teacher. And I got the impression those 4 weeks were valuable to many prospective education majors.

                Reply
                1. Lissa

                  That is SUCH a great idea, and I know they already do stuff like that in some fields, like I know nursing gets you hands-on pretty quickly – but I think they should do this more, considering how many stories I hear about “went to school for years, spend tens of thousands….realized quickly I hated it”.

                  I’m also really curious about the attrition rate, how many found in that term that yeah, teaching wasn’t for them.

                2. memyselfandi

                  Yes, my niece went back to get her degree in art education after completing an art degree. One of the first things they had her do was get in a classroom. She LOVED it. And, I admit I had my doubts it was right for her. She is on her way to a career she wants after a couple of years of searching for the right fit.

                3. rubyrose

                  Same thing in my speech pathology major, but the class was second semester of freshman year. It was the primary reason I dropped the major; I figured out I did not have the patience to do the work

              2. Maggie

                Tutoring middle school was mandatory second semester of freshman year at my college, and what a gift. For all of us it solidified, yes, I want middle school, yes, I want younger students, yes, I want older students, or yes, I want OUT! I still love teaching high school a decade in and still laugh thinking about my friend so immediately changed majors and was absolutely in the wrong major. It is NOT the career for her. She’s FAR too soft spoken to hack it in the world of children, who she mistakenly believed (bless her heart) all listen to people who are older than them on default.

                Reply
            1. Annoyed

              Or dislike kids in general but like individual ones on a case by case basis.

              You can find actual joy working with them (3rd-5th grade) to bring them to geade level + in reading and *math, thinking you want to go ahead and get an Ed. degree as the cherry on top of everything else.

              Then you discover what actual teachers do. Nope…

              *Yes I can do 5th grade math. Although with 6th grade math things could get kinda dicey.

              Reply
          2. Katelyn

            I’ve been told my whole life I’d make a great teacher, and why hadn’t I gone down that route. My answer is that I love kids, but that one little jerk in the back row who doesn’t want to learn and doesn’t care… ya, one of us wouldn’t make it to the end of the school year alive… so I’m happy to stay in a field where I can deliver trainings as needed to people who need to know the info for their livelihood…

            Reply
          3. batman

            The other thing is, working with kids in groups is different than working with them one-on-one. I realized early on that I don’t like trying to keep groups of kids on task (and that I don’t like it), but I’ve been considering jobs that involve working one on one with kids because I enjoy it more and am better at it.

            Reply
        2. Chinookwind

          When working on my Education degree, the first student teaching experience (in year 1 or 2 of 4) was to spend a week observing different grades. The specific reason was to make sure you picked the right age level that you can deal with as well that teaching in general is for you. I feel bad for those working on a 2 year after degree that skip that “familiarization step” and go straight into teaching a class.

          Reply
        3. delta cat

          Oh, hey, this reminds me of me! The reason I went into a pediatric rehab profession and not teaching is because two years of working at a day camp when I was in high school taught me that I like kids a lot when we’re one-on-one, but in groups? Not so much. (Or as I put it at the time, if handling a group of eight kids playing duck-duck-goose is this frustrating, just *imagine* trying to handle a group of thirty kids learning long division. I am in awe of classroom teachers.)

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            My grandmother was a school librarian, and gave that exact insight about herself–she didn’t like teaching groups, but enjoyed helping kids one on one.

            Reply
          2. Annoyed

            In awe. Yes this.

            I am on the roster as a certified sub for the school district in the town in which I live as well as the one next door.

            I can do a week max provided the teacher has left me all pertinent info.

            If I had to “wing it” they might get three hours, again max, out of me before I would have to build a fort under the teacher’s desk and hide.

            Reply
    2. Amber T

      To be fair, after interning at a Teapot Designing firm while in college, it made me realize that I did not want to become a Teapot Designer because I found it horribly boring.

      … would not have openly admitted that on my last day with everyone, who were overall pleasant and good people who invested a lot of time showing me the ins and outs of teapot design. It did make dodging questions from them awkward when they happen to move close by and I bump into them frequently (“You’re in rice sculpting now? I thought you were going to college for teapot design! What happened??”)

      Reply
      1. Elemeno P.

        Eh, depending on the industry, I think it can be understandable. I’m a technical writer, which is pretty boring most of the time. Our department is fun, but that’s because our work is so serious and tedious. We’ve gotten interns that I could tell were bored out of their minds, so we helped them find the thing they could do for us that would be the most interesting to them and helped them find the thing they wanted to do.

        The vast majority of our interns moved upward in other departments in our company (far away from us), and that’s great! Our boring department offers great experience and connections for those who want to go elsewhere, and it also offers spots to interns who show talent with the work and actually like it. As long as they learn something, it’s all good!

        Reply
      2. Kes

        I mean, I think it’s not as bad after the fact to say, if you run into them and they ask why you changed fields, that while you enjoyed working with the people there you realized the work wasn’t for you after all.

        However, at the goodbye party, tact and focusing on what you enjoyed about working there are in order.

        Reply
      1. Goya de la Mancha

        Agreed. I personally haven’t figured out what I want to do with my life, but I know there are a lot of things that I DON’T want to do!

        Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Although it wasn’t very diplomatic, it’s a fair response. Having information on what you don’t want to do is really helpful, especially because you don’t want someone who doesn’t enjoy (or tolerate) the difficult parts of their employer to be stuck there.

      Reply
      1. College Career Counselor

        Exactly. Case in point, I have a student coming to see me tomorrow specifically because he did NOT enjoy his summer internship experience. I look forward to seeing what else he’s interested in and helping him explore that.

        Reply
      2. Annoyed

        My family is mainly military and medical. They tried to push me in those directions.

        Military…nope. There’s a reason I’ve almost always worked for myself. I mean I’m ok with rules, I did manage grad school but that’s a lot different than being ordered to do stuff and having little if any recourse if the commander/professor is a dick.

        Medical…icky.

        But I really knew by around age eight (for real) that my passion was anthtopology. For a while I thought I would do archaeology but the realities of that particular field blow.

        I ended up bring primarily a social/cultural anthropologist with my fingers in a few bio anthto pies just for diversity. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Reply
    4. CMart

      Ha. Yikes. That’s one thing to confess to a mentor, it’s another thing to announce at a party in your honor.

      I learned a similar lesson from an internship, but when asked “what was your biggest takeaway from your time here?” my answer was “the important of timely account reconciliations” and not “I do not want to work for a privately owned company due to the weird family-owner politics.”

      Reply
      1. Lance

        I’m not sure about that. If she wasn’t rude about it, and did good work otherwise, I’d think any decent manager would still give her a good reference.

        Reply
    5. Ealasaid

      Hahaha! I had the same experience with my MA internship at a newspaper. Saved me a LOT of time learning I was 100% not newsroom “paying my dues” material. Pretty sure I didn’t actually say that to the people I worked with at that internship, though.

      Reply
    6. beanie beans

      Yep, I think everyone awkwardly laughed and didn’t take offense to it. Definitely better to learn that early! But considering her master’s degree was something specifically related to public work, I think we mostly felt bad that she wasn’t sure what to do with this degree that she didn’t want anymore!

      Reply
    7. Genny

      One of the things I consciously try to do is encourage people not get slavishly devoted to one idea about what they want to do. I’ve noticed that there can be intense pressure in some fields to go into the federal agency working on that subject matter (this is especially true IME for defense, diplomacy, development, and intelligence). Everyone wants to get one of those coveted positions, and you begin to feel like a freak if you don’t want that too or if you intern in one of those agencies and realize you hate it. I was very openly encouraging my summer intern that it’s okay to not want this when she realized she hated the work we do here.

      Reply
      1. Annoyed

        That’s how I was in grad school. I remember the first meeting of one seminar at the very start of grad school where the professor told us that we would probably not do whatever it is we were thinking about doing right then.

        Instead of archaeology I focused mainly on culture then parlayed my anthro and history MAs to a doctorate in sociology which I use doing feminist anthro/socio in the world of DV victim advocacy (in addition to running my export “empire” … I am a tired girl LOL).

        I definitely have the education/background for the work but waaayyyy back then it never would have crossed my mind to be doing what I do. I was gonna be digging up Scythian artifacts and stuff right?

        Boorriinngg… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Reply
  8. seashell

    I was the weird summer intern :(
    I had the internship for most of the year (8 hours/week) at a small office (2 full time employees) and was able to work part time (9 a.m.-3 p.m.) for about a month after the school year ended because I stayed on campus after classes ended. My 21st birthday was on a Thursday night. I woke up in the morning still drunk, did not shower because I had the night before (before I went out!! so I definitely needed another!) and I showed up to work probably reeking of booze and cross eyed. I’m so mortified by this and it’s been 10 years. My very sweet boss came into the closet office where I printed stuff for mailers and said she decided since it was my birthday, she was giving me the day off. My coworker drove my car back to my house. I am dying just thinking about this again. I did NOT get fired, I never did it again, and I worked for her until I graduated, and sobbed on my last day of work lol.

    Reply
    1. Amber Rose

      Aww. Your boss was awesome. It’s good to cut interns some slack for stuff like that.

      In one of the first jobs I had after turning 18 I ended up at a bar drinking with a bunch of my managers, and I was definitely still impaired the next morning at work. One of the managers gave me a granola bar and a bottle of water.

      Reply
    2. Close Enough

      Ugh, I hear you. I had a bit of a problem with booze in my 20s and once showed up to a Friday 8am job interview still impaired. Had to take a typing test.

      I’m cringing even putting that out there anonymously.

      Reply
    3. Anon for This

      If it makes you feel any better, I showed up drunk to work on a Saturday morning when I was in my early twenties. I was a bank teller–which obviously requires a little more caution and responsibility than your typical drunk person is able to provide. I wasn’t fired, but I am still embarrassed about it.

      Reply
    4. Anonny

      I feel that your first legal drinking night can be forgiven. Like, you probably don’t have knowledge of your alcohol tolerance and how strong some drinks are. Especially stuff like alcopops and cocktails.

      If you’re not in the US and your first legal drinking night was a few years back, well… slightly less forgivable, but I’d still give leeway. 21 is still young enough to be an idiot.

      Reply
    5. batman

      I had a summer internship the summer that I turned 20. It was my first time living truly on my own (meaning not in a dorm) and I was actually living in a city (I grew up in a suburb) and I was in a different metro area than where I was from.
      I managed to get someone else’s old ID so I could get into bars and on my birthday weekend I went out, got really drunk, threw up, and wore the same black pants to work on Monday and was riding up in the elevator with a co-worker I was friendly with and she asked how my weekend was and I told her that! So, yeah. She kind of raised her eyebrows, but didn’t say anything (she wasn’t my boss, but was kind of a mentor) and it didn’t affect my internship, which I was otherwise good at. But yeah, I was embarrassed after I realized how inappropriate it was.
      Now I just think it’s a funny story. It’s even funnier if I include what actually happened when I went out drinking that weekend…

      Reply
    6. Pebbles

      I was not an intern but something like 2nd year into my career after college (so, 24?). I had completed a huge development project upgrading some in-house software tools and project manager took myself, QA, product owner, and a few managers and coworkers to nearby bar to celebrate. Several rounds of shots later (all purchased for me by the managers present) we were done at that place. As we were leaving, another coworker who was involved in the project showed up and took me to another bar to celebrate. We closed that one down. Then he had to go back to work to check on a job before driving me home. The department VP was in coworker’s cube working on his job while we had been out. There I am holding myself up with the cube wall trying to give out “advice” as to what sort of corruption cases to check for and which tools to use. *smh*

      Pure coincidence, but we haven’t done many release parties like that for awhile now… ;)

      Reply
    7. Bea

      Oh my. I had to roll in massively hungover when I was 25 after celebrating election night with friends. I admitted to my boss I was sick due to my own bad choices. He patted my back and told me to go home. It was never spoken of again. He knew it wasn’t worth making a big deal out of because it wasn’t a habit by any means.

      Reply
      1. Anonicat

        My boss a few years back came into work looking pretty seedy one day, and admitted he’d gone out for a few drinks with an old friend who was back in town the night before. “It turns out, I’m too old to be able to do that anymore.”

        Reply
  9. Grits McGee

    When asked to share what he’d been working on at an all-hands meeting, our intern announced that he didn’t have antyhing to do and so he had downloaded the ESPN app on his phone and had gotten through 4 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix.

    This was particularly egregious because we’re specifically banned from streaming video at work because our network can barely handle doing actual business.

    Reply
    1. Sheik Yorbuti

      Who ever was in charge of that intern probably wanted to melt into the floor. What an embarrassing thing for them to say.

      Reply
    2. It's Pronounced Bruce

      As much as this is awful, I have seen so many intern managers over the years give their interns nothing to do while shrugging about being too busy to be more involved. So I kind of enjoy how totally and completely this calls out whoever was in charge of this guy, heh.

      Reply
      1. designbot

        Very true, but I’ve also seen people foisted with interns when what they really needed was mid-level staff. In those instances it’s hard for me to blame somebody for not making use of someone who’s generally more of a time-suck than a productive member of staff.

        Reply
        1. GreenDoor

          Yep. I’ve been the manager that walked into work on Monday and was told “Oh by the way your new intern will be here at 8:30.” And my reaction was “Intern? What intern?” No time to prepare the rest of the team, find them workspace, come up with an orientation day, or, you know, identify projects for them to work on. And, I especially appreciated not being a part of the interview/hiring process, too.

          Reply
        2. Former Worst Analyst/Best Intern Ever

          That reminds me of a story from my own career. A family member got me an amazing internship that I probably would have been considered too young for otherwise. I really wanted to contribute and learn, was trying very hard, but the team lead I was helping just like hated me and hated everything I did for the first couple of weeks. At one point he snapped at me to which I responded something to the effect of “I’m only 17….” To this day, I have never seen someone turn their judgment of me so quickly. It turns out he thought I was my older family member. He had requested a senior analyst and I guess had like ignored all of his email about me? He ended up being a great boss once he figured out what kind of work to assign me.

          Reply
      2. Mia

        Yeah, my internship was a lot like this. I didn’t stream TV shows or openly admit to spending my day browsing online and reorganizing my desks, but they expected me to stretch about an hour’s work of tasks throughout a 6 hour shift and always said “no” when I asked if there was anything else I could do.

        Reply
    3. Wendy Darling

      I’ve never had an intern but once during the end of his contract one of my team’s temps told me the funny story about how one day he had stayed out partying until after the buses stopped running but then realized he was near our office so he used his work badge to come into the building, took the team room key from my desk, and had a nap on the team room couch until the buses resumed service in the morning.

      I told him that we were going to make a deal: I would agree to not tell his manager about this until AFTER his temp stint was over, and he would agree to never tell me anything like this again.

      We both held up our ends of the deal.

      Reply
      1. spock

        Was your problem with the sleeping in general, or that the key was on your desk? I could see the latter being a concern, but if it’s just the napping, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. If they wanted folks out of the office they wouldn’t make the badges work 24/7.

        Reply
        1. Wendy Darling

          He shouldn’t have been overnighting in our team room — super unprofessional. The badges worked 24 hours because some of the staff was on-call and might need to come in at night to work, not because it’s cool to sleep in the office because you don’t want to shell out for a taxi/rideshare.

          Reply
    4. Observer

      This is actually a good example of a situation where you have to look at what the manager. Even without intensive supervision, this shouldn’t have been possible.

      Also, don’t you guys have an IT department that can do some filtering?

      Reply
  10. avocado

    Not an intern, but I walked in on my brand new hire (first real job out of grad school) DIPPING in the office. Luckily his door was closed?

    Reply
        1. Kaden Lee

          oh! oh gross. so glad my old plant banned all tobacco use, it would be so gross watching the control room operators spitting into a styrofoam cup.

          Reply
          1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins

            BLECH! I once was ‘pranked’ by a ‘friend’ and drank dip spit from a coke bottle by mistake. I barfed. I can’t imagine swallowing it on purpose!

            Reply
          2. Dust Bunny

            The guys at my high school used to spit in the drinking fountains. Retch.

            (I’m in Texas. You see a lot of jeans pockets with rings worn into them.)

            Reply
    1. Bea

      Hmmm…

      I come from a world this is (still gross AF) but not unheard of. Unless he’s supposed to have heavy phone use and I’ll kick his butt myself if he spits in the trash.

      Reply
      1. avocado

        No kidding… huh. I wouldn’t have guessed that using chewing tobacco would be acceptable in any office, but just goes to show you that norms really can differ. It is so far outside the bounds of normal here at our (pretty formal) office.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          Yep yep. It’s a weird offshoot thing. I can’t imagine it being in a formal setting, even the most fiendish red neck knows better.

          Reply
    2. Project Manager

      This is not uncommon at the places where I’ve worked (in Arizona & TX – across at least 4 offices). As a courtesy, folks typically use solid cups (not-opaque). But I would not consider this weird at all (although I do not do it myself).

      Reply
      1. Hapless Bureaucrat

        One coworker used to use a pop can with the tab pulled off. A-plus for accuracy but ickkkkk.
        As a note: this was decidedly not the norm for the office- or our region. But the guy had been there for decades. He’d been asked not to but the issue had never been forced.

        Reply
    3. avocado

      To add a bit to the story – when I entered the office, he got this wide eyed look, asked me to close the door, and then asked me (with his lip full of chewing tobacco), if this was “really bad”. Um… yeah, yeah it is.

      Reply
  11. Jack Be Nimble

    There was a whole passel of them this summer! It’s a pretty casual office, but I saw so many teeny-weeny shorts, mostly on the guys. They all wore those tiny, khaki shorts you see on frat guys. I think the logic is, “if my shorts cost as much or more than a pair of dress pants, it follows that my shorts are as much or more appropriate than pants.”

    They were a pretty harmless bunch, otherwise!

    Reply
      1. Jack Be Nimble

        I did some Googling, the brand is called “Chubbies” (yes, really). The website a lot of pictures of blonde men on sailboats.

        Reply
        1. Miso

          I mean, the very first sentence you get when you google them is “Shorts for your weekend.”

          They couldn’t have made it any easier…

          Reply
        2. Quackeen

          Not gonna Google that at work…

          I’ve had to have the “please don’t wear midriff-baring tops” conversation a few times as well as, very sadly, a conversation with a high school intern about why she couldn’t bring her baby to work. :( I like to think I helped all of them gain some good information about workplace norms.

          Reply
          1. Cacwgrl

            Oh that’s always a fun one. I had a (very introverted, male) hiring manager pick up an intern specifically to help with a cabling/networking job. He told her to dress comfortably, as in not business dress pants or heels. She chose to dress in very short running shorts, a barely there workout tank and sports bra. He had no idea how to coach that one without getting sued so I had to do it. She has no idea why what she was wearingdidnt meet the minimum for reasonable clothing in the federal workplace. I finally asked her if she wanted to be the person known for dressing very inappropriately or the one that really knew what to do work wise and someone they would want to hire. She finally took a look around and started coming in with non-workout shorts and fitted tees and absolutely rocked the rest of her internship. She wasn’t embarassed but did not seem to get why that wasn’t the best choice for the work we were doing where we were doing it. But they really liked her and asked me to extend a permanent job offer come spring graduation, so at least we made something good of it.

            Reply
        3. Close Bracket

          Those are what you call tiny? How old are you? Those might be short compared to modern styles, but men’s shorts in the 80s were shorter than that.

          Reply
    1. Elle

      We had a lot of poorly dressed interns this year too. Way, way too many backless shirts and spaghetti straps? And a lot of boat-shoes-as-professional-shoes (our office is on the business side of business casual).

      Reply
    2. mrs whosit

      Oh, that reminds me! I’m a teacher and so don’t have interns, but the summer school program I used to work with had high schoolers as TAs. A bunch of the girls wore tiny running shorts that also had slit vents on the back, but definitely mid-cheek. Once I pointed out to one of them that you could see through that gap, and her response was like, “Yeah, so?” which I did not expect.

      Reply
    3. Jack Be Nimble

      I can’t believe I forgot to mention, but there was also an intern who was waaaay overdressed every time I saw her! She wore a lot of (lovely) clothes that were more appropriate for a wedding than a workplace. She seemed to own nothing but tea-length satiny skirts, which she wore with conventional Oxford-type blouses.

      She looked good, just really out of place at an informal, undress tech company!

      Reply
    4. Celeste

      It doesn’t help that most women’s departments only have really small shorts, unless they’re clingy and end right above the knee. The only shorts I feel comfortable working in are from the men’s section.

      The guys don’t even have that excuse, though.

      Reply
  12. Submerged Tenths

    Not exactly interns . . . but the college-aged cast/crew of our summer theater program had drag shows in the dorm. And YouTubed them.

    Reply
    1. R

      Ok I feel like I’m missing something because…this one doesn’t sound that bad to me? Of course it wouldn’t be appropriate for the office, but in their dorms and (presumably) off the clock? Did they title the video with the name of your program? Otherwise I don’t really get the issue.

      Is it because they were in drag? If they had filmed a silly video without being in drag and then put it on YouTube would that have been just as bad?

      Reply
    2. Jadelyn

      Yeah, but to be fair, that’s theater people. It’s a whole other breed. (And I say that lovingly, as someone who was theater-adjacent through a bunch of my friends in college.)

      Reply
      1. AMPG

        Yeah, I was also theater-adjacent in college, and this sounds like a pretty typical bonding experience among the theater crowd.

        Reply
  13. Annie Moose

    We had an intern last year who was a trip.

    For context, I work for a consulting company with about 100 employees; we typically have a half-dozen or so interns running around in the summer. So we’re quite used to them, and for the most part, they’re very professional, hard workers, willing to learn professional norms, etc. And they almost always come back every year, throughout college, and it’s very common for them to accept full-time positions, so once they’ve been around a couple years, we know them well and they’re trusted to do employee-level work.

    This guy, though. Let’s call him Jack.

    To start with, Jack believed he was an expert at everything, despite being a relatively new college student with zero work experience. While he knew enough to keep his mouth shut around full-time employees, he did not have the sense to shut up around interns who’d been there much longer than him, refusing guidance or training from them (even though they were specifically showing him the ropes!) and insisting he could do everything on his own. (spoiler: he couldn’t)

    But perhaps his incompetence could be overlooked, if not for his other fine qualities. Jack repeatedly randomly took time off without telling his manager ahead of time. Jack once changed in the parking lot from jeans and a T-shirt to dress pants, dress shirt, and suit jacket. And Jack repeatedly fell asleep in client meetings. No, he did not have a medical reason. No, he didn’t stop even after being warned in very serious terms multiple times. So Jack holds the honor of one of the only interns we actually had to fire, instead of just letting them work out their time and not inviting them back.

    As a fun postscript, about a week after being fired by our sternest, most forbidding manager, Jack showed up at a job fair where the same manager and our recruiting team had a booth, and tried to invite himself out to lunch with them. Needless to say, they declined.

    Reply
      1. Annie Moose

        I’ve heard some stories from another intern who attends the same university, and your suspicion is very likely true!!

        Reply
  14. Butter Makes Things Better

    I was really impressed with one of our magazine interns because she managed to get invited to sit in on a top editors-only cover story meeting with the editor-in-chief and then made insightful comments that earned genuine, on-the-spot praise from the EIC. Unbeknownst to me, that praise went to her head and she sat in on a slew of other lower-level meetings and telling those (non-EIC) editors how things should run. Mind you, she had no paid experience to back up her monologuing. And of course this came with zero self-awareness, zero self-doubt and zero ability to read the rooms. She became one of the most despised interns to ever walk the halls and was turned away for an entry-level job soon after. Because I had advocated for her before I learned all this, she kept in touch with me for years. I could never bring myself to tell her what had gone wrong for her. (Always felt bad about that; it could have been useful info for her.)

    Reply
    1. Tardigrade

      One of my current coworkers is very much like this intern, with no reason to be, and I wish we’d had some kind of intern system to either weed her out or correct the behavior.

      Reply
      1. Butter Makes Things Better

        Ugh. I wonder if any of the suggestions from AAM or the other posters for the Cersei letter from earlier this week (the trainee who kept bragging about her skills) could help in your situation? Is your coworker equally reviled in your office?

        Your story makes me wish I hadn’t been reticent to weigh in, because it could’ve helped out her future colleagues. She wasn’t my intern, which was a vote for not saying anything, but I’m pretty sure she asked me for feedback after the fact, so I did have an entry point.

        Reply
        1. Tardigrade

          I know at least one person can’t stand it when she behaves this way, but she’s not as egregious as your given example.

          And I wouldn’t know how to tell someone that they are such a blowhard and nobody will thank them for it…probably why I’m not in management.

          Reply
  15. NoMoreMrFixit

    Many eons ago I worked as a computer programmer. We got in a summer intern who was a spoiled rich kid. He decided one day that he had partied too hard on the weekend and needed a nap in the middle of a Monday morning. Foolishly he decided to do this at our shared desk since I was going to be off doing something else for the morning. So I quickly blasted out a program that lurked for 10 minutes then proceeded to screech a loud whooping alert and wandered off to admire the fireworks from across the office.

    He had his feet up and a manual in his lap to make it look like he was reading something dry and technical. When the alarm went off he woke up violently and the book went flying in an arc and landed in our manager’s office while my intern dove at the computer and furiously pounded on the keyboard to try and shut up the noise.

    Somehow I managed to keep a straight face through all of this. Afterwards he admitted he was in the wrong and never tried a stunt like that again.

    Reply
      1. Richard Evans

        This guy wasn’t an intern…he had worked there full-time for a couple of years but he got the bright idea that, since he couldn’t see the wall clock from his desk, he would just put an alarm clock in front of him. Thee were three of us, plus the two owners, in the same room so perhaps four or five times a week, one of us would set the alarm while he was out of the room. We didn’t set it for a few minutes from then, but several hours. It might be ten in the morning but the alarm wouldn’t go off until two, three or even four in the afternoon. He had some choice words for us — even the bosses would be laughing.

        Reply
  16. Gen

    I had one work experience person who had a crying fit, full on terrified for her life because- we wanted her to sit at desk by a window. Why was this a problem? There was a tree outside the window and the intern was deathly afraid of slothes. Yep, slothes. We’re in the north of England, if there are any slothes within ten miles of our location they’re in a zoo. Someone tried to reason with her but it was ineffective so we just let her sit away from the windows.

    At the height of the payday loans boom in the UK we had a student employee who’d taken out many payday loans, each to pay for the previous one so he had massive debts. He managed to get an advance from management for his monthly train ticket then bought a life sized plastic sheep on payday only to freak out when he didn’t receive his pay, because it had already been advanced to him.

    Reply
      1. Gen

        He’d just got his own place and had bought it as cool decor for his living room. I’m pretty sure it was intended by the manufacturer as a garden ornament or something.

        Reply
          1. Anonicat

            I was going to suggest he was a homesick New Zealander, so…

            (Look, they destroy on the rugby field, sheep jokes are our only consolation.)

            Reply
        1. Moose

          I have to admit that I misread this at first and thought it said BROUGHT, like he brought a life-sized plastic sheep with him to the office on payday, and I was floored.

          Reply
    1. AnonforThis

      Your intern in the UK was afraid there would somehow be an animal native to South and Central America in a tree puts it the window. What?

      I also have to question being terrified of a creature that is famous for being slow moving and therefore, very very easy to get away from.

      Reply
      1. Amber T

        Have you seen their faces though? And their claws? I’m with the whole there’s-a-snowballs-chance-in-hell that one will turn up in the tree, but sloths look creepy.

        Reply
        1. Kit

          I will argue this to the death. Sloths are adorable. :P (They’re my favorite. Although I’ll admit the two-fingered ones can have kind of weird/gross noses. Three-fingered ones are the cutest.)

          Reply
          1. Amber T

            I’m dying over this! This is hysterical, with Gen’s reply below of the intern’s fear being exactly why I find them unsettling. Agree to disagree :) I have a friend who thinks penguins are weird, while I find them cute as cute can be!

            Reply
            1. Kitrona

              Agree to disagree. You can have my share of penguins and I’ll have your share of sloths. :)

              (I’m super excited, my girlfriend’s taking me to the zoo to see sloths when it’s not “surface of the sun” hot out!)

              Reply
      2. Gen

        Yes exactly, we were all so confused. If she’d named a native animal we probably wouldn’t have questioned it much but slothes? Really? There was about half an hour of people asking ‘do you mean something else?’ because she was young and words can get mixed up sometimes but no it was definitely slothes. She said it was their faces and the claws that scared her, and no amount of ‘there are no slothes here’ helped.

        Reply
          1. Jay_B

            This made me laugh so hard at my desk – I am trying to be quiet in my cube so basically I turned into a wheezing, crying mess picturing you swinging slowly from a branch in your shag rug jumpsuit!

            Reply
      3. Quackeen

        “I also have to question being terrified of a creature that is famous for being slow moving and therefore, very very easy to get away from.”

        I just laugh-choked on my almonds.

        Reply
      4. many bells down

        My ex once freaked out at a zoo because there was only a railing between us and a sloth, and he thought she’d viciously defend her baby. I’m like … it’s a sloth. By the time it gets out of the tree we can be in another time zone.

        Reply
        1. Indigo a la mode

          My ex and I were at the Smithsonian Zoo a few years back and he pointed out that the enclosure seemed like it’d be pretty easy for the sloth to escape from. Well, okay, but you’d also have like three days’ notice that it’s trying to escape.

          “IT’S MAKING A BREAK FOR IT!” *slow, tiny step*

          Reply
    2. Jadelyn

      On the one hand, people can’t control their phobias, so if this rose to that level – and it sounds like it might have – it’s not just her choosing to be unreasonable about it. Do I know, logically, that it’s highly unlikely that electrical towers and power lines will collapse and fall on me? Yes. Would I still be an absolute wreck if my employer tried to have me work outdoors too close to a set of power lines? Ye gods, yes. I can tell myself all day long, “It’s not going to fall on you, you have a better chance of being literally hit by lightening than having an electrical tower fall on you, shut up brain!” and my heart will still be pounding, I’ll still be shaking and fighting back tears. You can’t really “reason away” phobias.

      On the other hand…if trees provoke that level of fear in her, I can’t help but wonder how she functioned in the real world where there are, you know, trees everywhere?

      Reply
      1. Lilysparrow

        And windows.

        She wasn’t being asked to work in a tree, or near a tree. She was given a desk where she could see a tree outside, with a solid barrier between. I hope at some point she realized this was a real problem and got help.

        Reply
        1. Roja

          I was thinking the same thing. If your phobia is a big enough deal that you start sobbing at work because you’re near a window… in a country where the animal doesn’t even exist, no less… that’s the time for therapy. And I don’t say that to be unkind, because phobias are horrible, but because that’s no kind of life to live. I hope she got help.

          Reply
      2. Nonenglishspeaker

        That’s what I’ve wanted to comment. I have an animal phobia, and I’ve worked with someone who was afraid of stickers… well, it was more extreme disgust than fear.
        I agree being unable to sit next to trees raises a few questions about this intern’s everyday life, but the fact that a phobia is irrational itself isn’t enough to end it…

        Reply
      3. Kay

        Phobia or no phobia, its hard to be sympathetic for a person who is crying about a tree that is OUTSIDE the office she just happens to look out, being scared of an animal that unless there was a sloth escape from the zoo, would be pretty much impossible to even appear in the tree.

        Reply
    3. Observer

      Poor kid.

      I hope someone was able, at some point, to get her to see that this was something she needed to get some help for.

      Reply
    4. wendelenn

      Didn’t some letter a couple weeks ago feature a sloth purse that many AAM commenters then proceeded to buy up the stock of?

      Reply
        1. Kitrona

          …. Ok, I know what the next thing is I’m making for my etsy shop….

          (my email is in my handle if anyone’s curious)

          Reply
    5. Kay

      That… Is a whole new level of weird. That’s kind of like me crying at work because my window overlooks a river and I’m scared of crocodiles. And that’s still more reasonable because at least crocodiles are native to Australia thought I live WAY too south to ever see one.

      Reply
  17. I Herd the Cats

    We have a full floor, a large open office with individual offices on the perimeter. The offices are clearly assigned to VIPs with their names on the doors, but those people are on travel a lot during the summer. There are also some empty cubicles.

    Each summer I have the same conversation with the interns: they can’t randomly go into other people’s empty, assigned offices to work and make phone calls. This happened after one Senior VP came in and found the intern sitting with his feet propped up on the desk, making calls.

    Reply
    1. Moose

      Haha, I once worked an internship where there was no designated intern space or empty desks, but people traveled a lot. Every day I’d get my laptop from my supervisor’s cubicle and wander around looking for an empty office to sit in for the day. (That’s what I was instructed to do.) More than once I thought I’d found someone who was out that day, only for the person to come in late and be like “Um, why are you at my desk?” That was fun.

      Reply
      1. Frinkfrink

        I had the same problem as a temp at one place, many years ago. I was there for 6 weeks and nobody assigned me a desk, so I got shuffled to whichever desk was free that day. Somebody unbent enough to give me an inbox that I could keep my stuff in as I moved from desk to desk. One day I got put in a higher-up’s office and they explained she was on vacation so I assumed she’d be gone the next day as well and left my stuff there, and had to duck shamefacedly into the office the next day to retrieve my inbox.

        Reply
      2. Bored IT Guy

        I was on a project once, about 80% of my work was in the filed, but for the 20% that I was in the office, I didn’t have an assigned desk. If someone on our team was on vacation, I could use their desk, but most of the time I sat at a table at the end of the hall. Which was slightly inconvenient around lunchtime, because it was also the lunch table.

        Reply
    2. bluephone

      LOL there was an early It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode where Mac and Charlie do this. Naturally, hijinks ensue.

      Reply
    3. The Archnerd

      I am currently a grad student working in a lab. Grad students are put in a few large rooms that have been converted into open spaces (8 to 15 desks apiece). I started out as an intern, and interns are usually put in the lab rooms proper. It took me forever to get used to the shared office, because the lab room was bigger, better-lit, you could make a bit of noise without disturbing 10 people, and I wasn’t used tôt he norms so the shared office stressed me out.

      So, for the first few weeks of my officially going from intern to grad student, I kept using the lab. Until the head admin told me to “please come by my office, we need to talk”. Which, of course, had me panicking a bit. What it turned out to be, though, was her asking me to at least put a bit of a mess on my desk even if I wasn’t going to use it much, because office space was highly sought-out she couldn’t “defend my territory” for me. She didn’t want to deal with the drama of another team’s grad student “stealing” the desk and the professors getting involved.

      Reply
  18. Fake Eleanor

    I don’t know if this puts me into “weird summer intern” territory, but I definitely embarrassed myself as an intern once by saying the exact wrong thing.
    I was working at a government agency the summer after my sophomore year of college. I was 20 years old, doing pretty well, having a good time, getting to know my coworkers. Near the end of the internship, I mentioned off-hand to a woman who had become something of a mentor to me that I would be leaving soon, to which she said, “we’ll have to celebrate. We’ll buy you some candy and wine.”
    Now, I had about 8 months until my 21st birthday, so without thinking, I said, “candy sounds great, but let’s hold off around 8 months on the wine.”
    I didn’t realize what I had implied until she awkwardly tried to congratulate me. To this day, I wonder if she ever realized that I was not, in fact, pregnant. Absolutely the most mortified I have ever been, but I certainly learned to think before I speak!

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      oh.my.god! That’s hilarious. But you didn’t follow up with, “because it will be my birthday.” Or you didn’t even realize until later why she reacted that way?

      Reply
      1. Fake Eleanor

        I basically realized two hours later, at which point I was deep into my own work. It was bad. I’m not the most socially adept person at the best of times, so this was kind of my worst nightmare.
        I spent the last week of my internship aggressively mentioning that I was 20 and…doing things pregnant people generally shouldn’t? Trying to be seen eating raw fish and drinking coffee? Not sure exactly what my plan of attack there was.

        Reply
        1. never going home

          You’ve probably turned into a self-deprecating “that time I forgot people can be under-21 story” for that person, btw.

          Back before we ended our internship program, a few coworkers liked to take the interns out for a celebration of the internship ending at a place that served alcohol. I had to ask several times if all our interns were over-21 because, if not, we should find another venue. This frequently had not occurred to them.

          Reply
          1. Lisa

            This happened at #oldjob at a megacorp – we had a summer intern who was lucky enough to be brought along to a huge internal multi-day event, the kind where people fly in from other countries, and it’s a planning-and-inspiration conference by day, with private catered dinners every night. 99.99% of people who work at this company are over 21 so no one thinks to put any kind of protocols in place for checking IDs. One of our team managers, a very by-the-book rule-follower, was horrified to learn on the second day of the conference that her intern who had been helping himself to free beer all evening was actually only about 19 years old. She had to pull him aside to tell him he was not to drink at company events while under 21.

            Reply
        2. Quackeen

          I absolutely love your plan of attack, especially because it meant you had to brush up on things pregnant women should and should not do. I am just imagining you shopping for soft cheeses and mentioning cleaning the cat box.

          Reply
    2. Bea

      LOL

      I can relate. My first boss constantly forgot I was under 21 and tried giving me wine often. BUT I was her younger sisters friend and the friend was 4 years older so it was even more confusing for her

      Reply
  19. Whose fault?

    Intern needed H1B sponsorship and a job offer to stay in the US. Boss offered her this chance, making it very clear that she would have to transition to Teapot Management from Teapot Research as that was the only work we had available. She had never done Teapot Management before but she agreed. I vouched for her to get her into an intensive Teapot Management training in a nearby city with a great trainer. She ended up dropping out of the training because it was too far away, even though when I asked her later what she had done during that time period, she said “absolutely nothing”. Now she whimpers and looks scared whenever I bring up Teapot Management. Or anything else, actually. We only give her menial tasks (sort these fliers) because we don’t understand what she’s actually willing to do without whimpering. Well, the real culprit here is not the intern but my boss, who apparently got a “highly skilled” visa for someone without the skills we need and then approved her dropping out of the training. Not sure what to do with her but sure hope she gets better.

    Reply
    1. Kes

      Wow, I can’t believe you guys kept her when she dropped out of the training for the job she was told she needed to do, and is now doing basically nothing and your boss is okay with that?? I feel like most offices would just let her go for that.

      Reply
    2. Temperance

      YIKES. H1Bs are only available for highly skilled workers, and for positions not able to be filled by American citizens and those with work permits. Your org might be wading into some immigration-fraudy waters with these actions.

      Reply
  20. Ella

    my office had an intern once who was ultimately let go for issues around lack of professionalism. After he was let go, we discovered his twitter account where he’d spent weeks complaining that gender-based pay inequality wasn’t real because he (an intern) was being paid less than us (his managers, all women, who had all been with the company for 5+years at that point.)

    This wasn’t even an unpaid internship! He was making more than minimum wage in an entry level internship as his first job out of college! But apparently him not making manager money as an intern proved “reverse sexism” was real and alive, somehow.

    Reply
    1. Butter Makes Things Better

      Amazing. Internships are for learning, but you can’t teach an intern not to interpret things incorrectly when the relevant info (hello, tweetstorm) occurs outside of work!

      Reply
  21. What's with today, today?

    This isn’t weird but I interned two summers for an advertising agency when I was in high school. We specialized in doing movie premieres and advance showings in Oklahoma City. I got to run the advance screenings for The Horse Whisperer (three of them actually, I ended up watching that three-hour movie three times), Mulan and Something About Mary. We also did an advance screening of Disturbing Behavior, which was a teen thriller starring a very young Katie Holmes, we needed a lot of teens at the screening, so I got to bring my entire cheerleading squad. We got to skip practice that day and go to the movie for free. It was fun. But the coolest thing was my boss got to go to Florida for the Armageddon press junket to work as personal assistant to the late Michael Clarke Duncan. She hit it off with him and he offered her a job as her full-time assistant. She couldn’t take it with her family life, but that was pretty neat.

    Reply
  22. Bea

    This is simply fascinating because I’ll never deal with interns.

    I want to meet someone who believes in dragons. We will be the best of friends.

    Reply
    1. SlightlyOffTopic

      I had a date ask me what I liked to read; I said historical non-fiction and he got excited and said, “so you read a lot about dragons, huh?”
      Hrm…

      Reply
    2. Salyan

      If you don’t believe in dragons,
      It is curiously true
      That the dragons you disparage
      Choose to not believe in you.

      ~ Jack Prelutsky

      Reply
  23. alldogsarepuppies

    TBH the stapler/dragon intern sounds like he might be a squib? Grew up in the wizard world but couldn’t cut it so is now trying to survive amongst muggles except doesn’t know about technology BUT knows about dragons.

    Prove me wrong.

    Reply
    1. Thursday Next

      I like the cut of your jib.

      IIRC, that intern had lots of other…quirky ideas. He wasn’t a Mr. Weasley figure, staring in open-eyed wonder at the spark plugs all around him.

      Reply
    2. motherofdragons

      Either that or Arthur Weasley in the flesh! Curious that he’s the head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts office, but doesn’t know how a telephone (excuse me, “fellytone”) works…bless him.

      Reply
    3. GingerHR

      In fairness to him, we *do* still have knights in England.
      The dragons are all hiding out in a hill in Wales though. And one’s been spotted in a loch in Scotland, tricking tourists…

      Reply
  24. Moose

    This is long, but. One fateful summer, we hired two interns who, in their interviews, seemed excited and competent. One in particular seemed a little socially awkward, but that’s not uncommon in our industry. He was calm and spoke well about his past experiences. We were impressed and excited to hire him.

    When he started…well, he wasn’t an entirely different person, but he displayed none of the calmness or competence that we saw in the interview. Any question–most of them totally valid–was prefaced with “I’m so sorry to bother you,” whether in person, over email, or in a Google chat. He’d literally back away meekly like a small animal moving away from a predator with a bunch of “sorry agains!” I’ve never had an intern act like this (I am a lot of things, but scary is not one of them, ha ha). It was annoying and strange, but I chalked it up to nerves at starting a new position. I responded to every question with a smile, and said “don’t worry, you aren’t bothering me, thanks for checking,” etc. every time, thinking that eventually he’d relax.

    One day I sent him a project that required a specific program. I showed him the program on my computer and how to use it. Later I walked by his desk and saw him looking at the file, so I figured he was working on it and didn’t think anything else of it.

    He worked on it for the next two days or so. At one point I stopped by and asked him how it was going, and he said “great!” and left it at that. At the end of the second day, I got an email from him that said, “Turns out intern laptops don’t have X Program, so I just did this in Y Program instead. Here it is!” with a file attached. It was, of course, unusable, because it needed to be done in a specific program, which I went over with him. My interpretation of the situation was that he was so worried about bothering me with questions that rather than tell me he couldn’t do the project, he panicked and tried to do it a different way. I wrote back something along the lines of “This needed to be done in the specific program like I told you, so now I’ll need to redo this on my computer. It’s not your fault that you don’t have the program, but you need to tell me these things and ask questions so we don’t waste time and have issues.”

    I wish I’d talked to him about it in person, but I wrote the email while surprised and frankly a little mad. He responded with a very apologetic email, and at that point I didn’t want to say the same things in person for fear of beating a dead horse. He worked on a few other projects and everything went fine. I figured we were past it.

    THEN…only about two weeks later. I sent him a project that should have been straightforward. I knew he had the program that it needed to be done in, because it was the one he’d erroneously used on the other project. I told him to use that program, he said great and got started. A few hours later he sent me the project and said “Turns out intern computers don’t have that program, so here’s all the changes that need to be made” with a list of changes written in an email. Um.

    At this point I walked over to him and said “Hey, I thought you had that program, you’ve used it before.” He said “I guess none of the intern computers have it anymore.” I asked him to open the file; when he double-clicked it, it automatically opened in a different program. I took his mouse, right-clicked, went to “Open with…” and lo and behold, there was the program he said he no longer had!

    1: he’s a young person in the 21st century, so he should know how to look for programs, but that’s the least wild thing about this. 2: when the file wouldn’t open in the right program, why would you assume it had been MAGICALLY DELETED FROM ALL INTERN COMPUTERS instead of there just being an issue?! and 3: after I specifically told him he had to tell me things like this right away, he did the Exact Same Thing, only two weeks later.

    You’d think this is the worst it could get. But no. When I showed him that he still indeed had the program, he looked me right in the eye and said, “Oh. Well, can’t you just do it now?”

    Anyway, that was my worst intern.

    Reply
    1. Amcb13

      As a teacher, I can attest that computer-savvy is not NEARLY as generational as we assume it is. I have teenage students who could probably build a computer and write an OS from scratch, and I have teenage students whose minds are blown when I show them the keyboard shortcuts for cutting and pasting. In some ways I think that those of us who remember older, crummier systems are often more comfortable poking around until we figure something out, because young people now probably started out on fairly intuitive mobile interfaces where there isn’t a lot to be done if something glitches out.

      Reply
      1. Moose

        That’s a fair point. Still, that was the least egregious part of this. If he had told me when he first tried to start the project “I can’t find that program on my computer anymore” and I’d gone over and shown him it was still there, I would have chuckled internally but forgotten about it. Instead he assumed it was magically deleted from all (not just his) computers and told me to do it myself.

        Reply
        1. Jadelyn

          The fact that he still wanted you to do it, after you’d showed him he had the software, is what pushes it into headdesk territory for me. The rest, while annoying, I can chalk up to ignorance. That last is just laziness.

          Reply
          1. Moose

            For sure. It made me think oh, you’re not just having issues with the computer, you put zero effort into doing this correctly and now expect me to do it for you again.

            Reply
          2. Kes

            Yeah, the rest of it can be read as ignorance/fear of bringing up issues or asking questions, which, while not great, is potentially understandable in an intern. But the ‘Can’t you just do it?’ really takes it to another level

            Reply
            1. Moose

              It was such a bizarre switch, too. Like, for him to go from apologizing every minute and seeming so nervous to brazenly not wanting to do things. It made me wonder if he just, like, lost interest or motivation after I reprimanded him for not asking the first time.

              Reply
      2. Amber T

        Agreed. I’ll google and poke around for a while and usually I can figure things out, but most things are so “user friendly” that when there are problems, they seem way more difficult to find sometimes.

        Also – I fully admit that I have no idea how to work Macs. I grew up a PC user, and I remember sitting in my college library, using a Mac (since that was the only computer available) and it took me a good while to figure out how to log out (this was pre-iPhone days so I couldn’t discretely look it up, and I didn’t want to completely out myself as an idiot by searching “how to log out of Mac” on the very computer I was using).

        Reply
      3. mcr-red

        I think you are on to something there. My oldest is terrified to poke around until she figures something out, because she’s afraid she will somehow break it.

        Reply
      4. many bells down

        Also, I think sometimes it’s not that THEY don’t know, but they assume WE don’t know. So they can tell a lie and think they’ll get away with it. I’ve seen this a lot with student plagiarism; they think adults aren’t savvy enough to run a simple Google search to discover they’ve stolen their entire assignment from the internet. Or that 17 other students haven’t done EXACTLY the same thing already.

        Reply
        1. Moose

          Yeah, I don’t think he was outright lying either time, like “I’ll pretend I don’t have it so I don’t have to do this.” But along those lines, it seemed more of a “Well I can’t figure this out, and I don’t care enough to try to figure it out, so I’m just going to do less work and assume she’ll do the rest.”

          Reply
      5. Anonny

        I’m both of these. I can build a computer, install OS, break into computers with lost passwords, all kinds of stuff like that… and I only learned about the copy and paste keyboard shortcuts like, a month ago.

        Reply
      6. Julia

        I worked in my private, top-tier university’s computer room for a bit, and part of my job was to make sure the computers were switched off at the end of the day. Every time, there were several students who left the computers on with their personal files open, still logged in, and at least person who thought that if they switched off the monitor, they had shut down the PC.

        Reply
    2. Kathleen_A

      That is pretty lame, and I don’t want to act like I’m trying to outdo you, but we had an intern – a legal intern who had several years of post-secondary education under his belt – who didn’t understand how to cut and paste in Word. (Full story a few posts down.) What’s the deal with computer illiteracy among people who ought to have zero issues with computer literacy? So strange.

      Reply
      1. Book Badger

        One of my fellow legal clinic students had no idea how to do ANY keyboard shortcuts. As in, to cut and paste, he’d carefully go to the Edit drop-down and select “cut,” then go again and select “paste,” instead of just ctrl+x and ctrl+v (or command-x command+v when he was on his Mac). He knew they existed but had never bothered to learn them.

        He was three years older than me and married with a kid, and watching him write anything was supremely frustrating.

        Reply
    3. Moose

      Real quick want to emphasize that what kills me about this is not the computer illiteracy part, but the not telling me that he couldn’t do the project, then just making up a different project to do instead or telling me to do it myself. That’s the kicker here.

      Reply
    4. Myrin

      That’s curiously bizarre! How did his internship end, if you don’t mind me asking? (As in, did you give him something like an exit interview where you went over your concerns? Did he ever acknowledge that he understood his behaviour was out of the norm? Anything?)

      Reply
      1. Moose

        After the second instance, I sat down with him and had a serious talk. Basically explained that he needed to tell me or ask questions if he ran into issues, and not just try to do things in a random way, because if I gave him instructions they were for a reason and projects needed to be done the way I explained. I asked him if there was a reason he felt he couldn’t tell me things and he said no, and apologized, and promised not to do it again. He seemed upset at being reprimanded but didn’t say so, and after that meeting he didn’t do anything else like that. To be fair, though, I didn’t really trust him with any high-stakes projects and kept his assignments pretty low-priority. He finished out the internship and I haven’t heard from him or anything about him since!

        Reply
    5. Lorna D

      There is some bizarre behavior here definintely worthy of a “worst intern I had” title but…

      “he’s a young person in the 21st century, so he should know how to look for programs”

      I grew up in extreme poverty in the US. I didn’t always live in a home, let alone somewhere with a computer. There are all kinds of things that older generations have assumed someone my age *should* know, and I’ve been written off as lazy, stupid, or not passionate about things because I just didn’t have access to things that most people my age would have had access to, so I balk a lot at this statement.

      Reply
      1. Moose

        Like I said in a few other responses, if that was the only thing, I probably wouldn’t even remember this story. I didn’t mean to emphasize the computer part. It was not telling me about issues, ignoring my instructions, and telling me to do it myself instead of just fixing his mistake that were the issues.

        Reply
      2. Observer

        It sounds like you’ve done pretty well for yourself despite the rough beginning, so kudos to you!

        But, even without this kind of poverty, that’s just not a big enough deal to merit mention. ESPECIALLY with all of the rest of it.

        Reply
    6. Dear liza dear liza

      I feel your pain. I’ve had amazing student workers, I’ve had decent student workers, and I’ve had student workers who seem to completely lack problem solving skills and basic curiosity. In camp #3, I give them a task and hours later, I find out it wasn’t done because of Minor Obstacle. And of course, the student worker doesn’t ask me about it, so Minor Obstacle becomes Total Roadblock for them.

      Reply
    7. Lynn Whitehat

      TO A POINT, I think the reticence about asking questions is part of adjusting to the work world. Class assignments are designed to be self-contained and clear. And if anything is ambiguous the first year a new assignment is used, you better believe it will be clarified for next year. So if you ask a lot of questions, you are definitely wrong–either missing what is clearly written in the assignment, or going out of your way to misread things that should be clear in context. “Professor? What planet will this bridge be built on? I need to know how much gravity there is.” “…. Earth.” By about the third question, the teacher is telling you “just… use your best judgement” through gritted teeth.

      Work assignments are more ambiguous and open-ended, in general. They’ve often never been done before, and definitely not by a hundred people all doing the identical assignment. So it can take a while to learn that asking questions is normal and appropriate, not a sign that you’re oblivious or deliberately trying to be difficult.

      This guy took it too far, though.

      Reply
      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

        I tend to ask lots and lots of questions, because I’m quick to notice gaps and logic issues in instructions, and it’s important to me to do things right and follow all the rules. Not all bosses like it.

        Reply
    8. LadyCop

      In all fairness…being young doesn’t in any way ensure computer literacy. It’s obviously not the norm, but people of all ages really struggle with simple computer tasks, and as much as it’s simple for us to right click and “Open with” there are a bulk of people who wouldn’t even know that option existed.

      I mean I literally spend way too much time telling people information that is readily available on a sign, or from a quick Googling…but no one reads signs, and no one thinks to Google things.

      Reply
  25. Urdnot Bakara

    A colleague of mine recently mentioned (offhandedly) that a couple of years ago they had to fire all the interns. That was before I worked here but now I’m wondering if those were the interns who asked for the dress code change.

    Reply
      1. Urdnot Bakara

        There are no more details, unfortunately! We were getting a meal together as a team and some of my department superiors were reminiscing about people who used to work here in the past. My colleague responded to one of the stories with, “That was the year we had to fire all the interns.” I looked at her and said, “You had to fire all the interns?” And she looked at me like she was going to respond but then someone else started talking and I didn’t want to be pushy and ask again/talk over someone. This was like two months ago now so it would be weird if I brought it up again, although I desperately want to solve this mystery!

        Reply
        1. Kelsi

          Lol you are more patient than I! I would have been back on that story as soon as I remembered. “Hey X, I know this is weird but you were starting to tell a story awhile back about the year you had to fire all the interns, and I’m still dying to know what happened!”

          Reply
        2. Observer

          Well, now you have the perfect reason. “I was just reading this piece about crazy intern experiences, and it reminded me of our conversation.” Very normal and natural.

          Reply
  26. Youth

    Most of the people in my position are part-timers who come in only when there’s work to be done. There are some part-timers who sometimes go for weeks without getting work.

    Last year during a meeting, our supervisor told us that one of the higher-ups had proposed bringing in an intern to help us with out workload. He asked what we thought about that proposal. Our response was basically a salty, “What workload?”

    They did not hire an intern.

    Reply
  27. Evil HR Person

    This wasn’t the interns’ fault. Someone in my company, way up high, decided that we needed to be nice to this one company and allow them to send us 2 interns. My company is in Florida and the company in question is in Alaska. So these interns were from Alaska, and they were coming down to Florida in the middle of the summer. It had bad idea written all over it, but the interns were on board, so I figured “whatevs.” It’s not like we hadn’t had Alaskan interns before (we had) who had to take days off to acclimate (they did) and one was borderline heat stricken (because of course!).

    Because the interns didn’t have a place to live, we were going to put them up in my higher-up’s guest house. 4 weeks before the interns were set to arrive, I was told that the guest house was no longer available because it was up for sale, and that I’d have to find another place for them to stay. Okaaay…. I went on VRBO and found a nice 2 bed/2 bath apartment for the interns to share, and paid the rental in full so I could secure it (although, NO ONE comes to my side of Florida in the summer, so I found the rental pretty easily).

    Two weeks before the interns were set to arrive, the deal with the Alaskan company fell through and I was left trying to recover the partial rental fee. Thankfully, the owner was very understanding and processed the refund to its full extent under the agreement (50%), and then I sent a strongly-worded letter to the other company to reimburse us for the rest. They did.

    Reply
  28. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

    The university I worked for would graduate students who failed their exams (to improve their stats for a program that should have been shut down) and then give them internships when they couldn’t pass the licensing exam. One memorable intern was confused for a homeless man by a client and I completely understand the mistake. I don’t think they actually made him do any work that year.

    Reply
  29. Kathleen_A

    Our legal team had an intern who was…well, let’s just say that he wasn’t their best and brightest…but one of us had to show him how to copy and paste in Word. This was only 6-8 years ago, so Word wasn’t exactly shiny and new, and he was a young man, so one would have thought he’d have been creating Word documents since preschool.

    But no. Or if so, he apparently didn’t copy and paste when he created them.

    Reply
    1. Dee

      I once had a coworker who managed to paste a copy of a folder *inside* the copy on the server, rather than overwriting it. So instead of backing up her work, she was creating this giant Matryoshka doll of a folder inside a folder inside a folder…

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        Okay, that outdoes my temp who thought the folder on the drive was “full” once the list of files reached the bottom of the explorer window he was viewing it in. He created a second folder and started to put documents in there as well, but he did comment to me about it so I was able to merge them and explain how scroll bars work before he did too much damage.

        Reply
      2. Lou

        When I took my first job after college I inherited a ridiculous electronic folder system. My predecessor had saved FOUR copies of the ENTIRE electronic folder system in various places. Some of it was nested, Matryoshka-like, and there was at least one duplicate copy also in a different location on the desktop. Took me three months of dedicated work to untangle that.

        This system was also weird in other ways including two copies of almost every document, one in Corel WordPerfect and one in MS Word, and incomprehensible 8 character file names because they’d never been updated after the conversion to more modern operating systems (I suspect the department had first gotten a computer in the late 70s)

        Reply
      3. Free Meerkats

        I think he became my coworker later. He was also the one who, when our site ran out of licenses for Word (we had one license for each person onsite), was discovered to have 15 instances of Word running on his computer because he started a new one every time he opened a document; and never closed any of them. I don’t think this is possible anymore with more modern versions of Windows.

        Reply
    2. never going home

      I have a coworker for the last, oh, 4 years, who every few months or so, I have to show how to do the same exact thing to move files around. She’s very nice, so I don’t mind too much, but it does get exasperating how she completely forgets that I’ve already shown her how to do this at least 10 times.

      I have no faith she knows how to copy/paste, considering some of the other stuff I’ve had to show her.

      Reply
      1. iglwif

        I used to have a co-worker like that. (Not an intern.) She also routinely freaked out about files, file directories, and/or Outlook folders that had “disappeared”, and it always turned out that she had inadvertently moved the missing thing into a different place and not noticed.

        Which is a thing that has happened to me, has probably happened to most people at least once, no shame! … but the fact that it happened at least once a month and she flipped her lid about it *every single time* made me tired.

        Reply
    3. Anonygoose

      I learned most of what I know about Word and other common computer programs in the working world, despite having been using it since I was literally 5 years old. Most schools don’t actually teach any computer skills beyond maybe typing (if that). I wish we had a class showing us the basics of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. – everything I know I either had to teach myself or have someone I work with show me.

      Reply
      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

        Yes, schools don’t necessarily teach this stuff. People tend to presume that people who were born in a world full of computers, automatically know how to use them. Still for some reason, though several generations have been born in a world full of cars, driving instruction is still a thing…

        Reply
      2. Mrs. Emerson Peabody

        The first real job I had out of college (a company with 500+ employees) only used Wang. Trying to open files from clients who used Word or Word Perfect could turn into an hours -long saga. Yes, I am an Old.

        Reply
      3. Ego Chamber

        “Most schools don’t actually teach any computer skills beyond maybe typing (if that).”

        They don’t? What the hell. I was in high school in the late 90s/early 00s and we had a mandatory “Computer lab” class every semester that was just to teach us Word, Excel and Powerpoint. In senior year we got to choose a self-directed study project—some kids learned how to code enough to make a little slot machine program, others spent the whole semester trying to teach Dragon Naturally Speaking to understand their voices, and I got Microsoft certified in Word.

        I went to a public school, in a very small town, and I’m kind of mad this isn’t done anymore. Do they still teach typing at any point, or is it just assumed all the littles know how to do that now? (I started typing classes in 4th grade, after our school got a computer lab courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)

        Reply
        1. Narcoleptic Juliet

          My middle school had a mandatory “Computer class,” too, but it was completely useless. This was in the mid 90s, and the class was taught on Commodore 64s. When we complained that the computers were too old to be useful for learning about using modern computers, the teacher told us our argument was invalid because we were older than the Commodores.

          Reply
    4. CMart

      I’m in a role for “new grads”, though as a career changer I’m ~10 years older than the others who were hired alongside me. I work with them every so often and it’s nearly universal that while they at least know about copy/paste, they’re either doing it as a right-click operation, or using the mouse to navigate through the menus to do it.

      Nearly to a person their minds have been blown when I introduced keyboard shortcuts.

      I’ve started asking if they took “computer” classes at some point in their education and so far the answer has been “no”, and I think that’s where this disconnect is coming from. When I was in middle school in the mid-90’s we did keyboarding/typing, MS Office, and “world wide web” skills classes. I think nowadays they’re just left to figure it out on their own.

      Reply
  30. Paralegal, Part Deux

    Do law clerks count? If so, we had a law clerk bring a dead alligator to the office on his way to the place to process the meat.

    Reply
          1. Paralegal, Part Deux

            My aunt’s SIL was 8 mos. pregnant and got chased by a gator. She only got away due to an neighbor seeing her and driving his truck down to where she was. She crawled on and escaped.

            Getting a license for gator season is done like a lottery here.

            Reply
      1. Delta Delta

        I’m guessing the alligator was on its way to the processing place (could range from slaughterhouse to “guy with a garage and willingness to cut up an alligator”). I’d further guess the dead gator was in the back of a pickup truck.

        Reply
      2. Paralegal, Part Deux

        He took it to a place that cuts all the meat out like one would a cow or other livestock, and you put it in the freezer like any other kind of meat. It tastes like chicken.

        Reply
        1. Anonymouse

          The alligator skin is sold to Italian fashion designers.

          And the alligator internal organs are sold to the Chinese for herbal medicines.

          In my high school graduating class of 100, two of my classmates make their living as alligator trappers. Class reunions are …. interesting.

          And both of those guys did intern with alligator trappers when they were in high school. (Returning briefly to the topic.)

          Reply
            1. Free Meerkats

              Way back in the winter of ’64-’65, my dad got bitten by an alligator. In Rapid City, SD. In January. He wore the tooth they pulled out of his hand on a chain around his neck until he died. Mom had it cremated with him.

              He used to love telling the story of how the medical insurance company bounced that one three times because it “just wasn’t possible.” He was helping the Reptile Gardens move animals to its new site and was carrying the “safe” end of the alligator when the snout wrap came loose.

              Reply
          1. Anonymouse

            Let me clarify:

            Alligator trapping is a calling, not a business.

            Alligator trappers have apprentices, not interns.

            There are no sleeping on the job stories in alligator trapping.

            Reply
        2. MsSolo

          It’s really nice with peach and balsamic glaze, either on skewers or as a pizza topping!

          (I’m from the UK, but do like a bit of unusual meat)

          Reply
      1. Paralegal, Part Deux

        Unfortunately, we have 2 mounted deer heads and one wildebeest hide rug in the office…and they paid a decorator for this crap.

        Reply
        1. Icontroltherobots

          Your office is AMAZING. Thank you for sharing.

          My questions are:

          1) how long had the gater been in the truck?
          2) Why was he hunting during working hours?
          3) who processes MULTIPLE DAY OLD MEAT?!

          Reply
          1. Paralegal, Part Deux

            1. Just since that morning.
            2. He had a day off and gator season in pretty short. The attorneys told him to go have fun.
            3. It was fresh so wasn’t a problem.

            Reply
    1. MsSolo

      Reminds me a bit of a friend of my parents, who went hunting before work and had the deer in his car boot all day. He was a teacher at a school for kids who’d been excluded from mainstream schools, who were very interested in why Sir’s car was bleeding. They always behaved very well for him after that! So well that at the end of the year the school let him take a group of them fishing and they all brought their own knives to gut their catches.

      Reply
  31. Tilly

    Not the biggest offense but our summer intern walked into an employee event on our floor, which we share with HR, asking if bars allow you to sneak in shooters. She’s turning 21 this fall and really concerned how she can afford to be 21 and go out with her friends. I mean on one hand, I admire how comfortable/open/clueless she is but on the other hand I’m appalled that she thought that was ok to say out loud in front of our stuffy HR staff.

    Reply
  32. RJ the Newbie

    At my old office, an intern had been having issues dealing with our phone system and the codes to make international calls. He wasn’t supposed to be making any and he kept trying. A week from the end of his internship, he tried again and had an emotional meltdown about the lack of inclusion in the office and how he felt objectified and targeted. Once he’d calmed down, he taken over to HR. He left quietly shortly afterwards.

    After he’d left, we found out that in additional to his failed attempts to make international phone calls, he’d printed an entire multi-volume set of electrical/plumbing codes – a decade’s worth. This was the equivalent of about 20 reams of paper.

    I heard from my old office manager that he was shocked when his internship for this summer was turned down.

    Reply
      1. Lynn Whitehat

        My guess is calling home on the company dime. I once spotted a VP wandering the halls erratically. I asked what he was doing, and he said there was a phone line somewhere in the building that was not assigned to an individual, and someone was staying super-late and calling a country we didn’t do business with. So he called that phone number from his office phone, and was wandering around listening for a ringing noise.

        This was in the dark days before Skype and other VOIP services. Calls overseas could cost several dollars A MINUTE in those days.

        Reply
        1. RJ the Newbie

          I remember those days very well as I had to code those damn calls to projects/marketing/administration back in the day!

          He was from the Midwest. There was non reason (that I know of) why he would be calling overseas. He made PLENTY of calls back home as we found out after he left.

          Reply
    1. Kit

      Why on earth would he need an entire decade’s worth of electrical/plumbing codes? I could almost see if it was just the latest ones and his job was related, but a *decade*?

      Reply
      1. RJ the Newbie

        Really wish I could answer this as it made no sense to me either. Yes, the most current ones would make sense but he pulled a decade for each. It was a massive amount of paperwork and internal cost.

        Reply
    2. Brownie

      Not an intern, but a brand new hire out of college here decided to make an international call to India from his desk here in the US. So he picked up the phone, dialed the +91 country code, then decided since it was long distance he needed to start the rest of the number with a 1, realized what he’d done when he heard an unexpected voice asking if he needed fire, police, or ambulance, and hung up in a panic. After it was all over and the police had left management enacted a major new rule absolutely forbidding international calls from work supplied phones.

      Reply
        1. Richard Evans

          Years ago, the dept. supervisor came in about 7 am, then had a heart attack a half hour later. He told me later that the other guys were trying to call 911 but couldn’t reach it because they all forgot they had to dial 9 first when dialing an outside number. They eventually put stickers on the phone reading 9-911. He also said he was stretched out on the floor when the safety director looked down at him and said “he’s a goner”.

          Reply
          1. it's pumpkin spice season

            I worked at a community center and our policy was that all 911 calls had to be made from a landline. So you had to dial 9-911.

            Two things of course happened:
            1. We had a lot of 16-22 year old employees, who had yet to encounter a landline, and I had to put a post-it on the phone with directions on how to dial 911.

            2. We had a lot of clumsy employees, who in dialing outside numbers would accidentally 9-1-1, and panic and hang up on the 911 operator. An email was sent out reminding everyone that if they DID accidentally call 911, they were to identify themselves to the dispatcher and state clearly that it was a misdial and they had not intended to call 911, and there was no emergency. Apparently the cops had shown up a few times and scared our front desk manager, who ran around the building in a tizzy trying to find the emergency.

            Reply
      1. Alli525

        One of the very first things we were taught at my work-study job in college was that, because the university phone system required you to press “9” to dial out, and out-of-state numbers all needed to be preceded by a “1,” we should be EXTREMELY careful when dialing. And if we ever did accidentally dial 911, we should never, ever just hang up – we should always politely apologize to dispatch for the error, or they would end up sending an emergency vehicle to campus.

        Now that I’m telling this story, it occurs to me that the Brits’ emergency number being 999 makes a hell of a lot more sense than our system.

        Reply
        1. EvilQueenRegina

          Yes, as a Brit I am sat here reading this and thinking it’s a good thing that mistake isn’t as easy to make with our emergency number. having said that, I had a temp job about 13 years ago where one of the extensions in the team I was working with was 0870. For the non-Brits, 0870 is a premium rate telephone code and a lot of companies use this. We had lots of people who forgot to dial 9 for an outside line – sometimes we got hangup calls if people realised the mistake quickly, sometimes they didn’t realise and would start going on at us about things like unpaid phone bills. We also got lots of faxes. Eventually they changed that phone number and retired 0870 as an extension.

          Reply
    3. SKA

      Ooh, on the calling codes front (but unintentional in my case) — at college, I did a work/study job at the IT helpdesk. If we were calling a cell phone or other off-campus number (as opposed to an on-campus office or dorm landline), you had to dial 9 first, and then there was a code you had to dial after the number. So the formula went 9 – [phone number] – [code]. However, the first time I had to make one of these calls, I got the order wrong and did 9 – [code] – [phone number]. And, you guessed it, the code started with 11. Thus dialing the local 911 dispatch. I was MORTIFIED. But I was also told that it pretty much happens once per batch of work/study students.

      Reply
    4. plainjane

      I had an intern who wanted to work from home so that she could call her bf (in the UK) because we wouldn’t give her the code to make long distance calls from the office. There were other problems too. And at my next job, I ended up managing one of her friends. It was not a good fit.

      Reply
  33. Amber T

    Harmless silly intern mistake on my end – when I interned for a Teapot Design firm, I got billable hours, which I was very unfamiliar with. I was being paid $X an hour by the firm, but my billable rate was $Y, which was like, at least 5x as much. So I thought if I was filing or doing some general office work, I’d be paid $X, but if I got to work on client work, I’d be paid $Y. Figured out verrrry quickly that that is NOT how that works!

    Reply
    1. irene adler

      Disappointed, no doubt.
      I recall when a new tech opened her first pay check and her face fell.

      Taxes???

      Quite a shock for her.

      Reply
      1. Jayne

        One of my colleague’s daughters brought her first paycheck to her mother and asked, “Who is this guy FICA and why does he have all my money?!?”

        Reply
      2. Amber T

        LOL I sorta did that too with my first salaried paycheck. Thought it would be my yearly salary divided by 24 with maybe a couple of bucks knocked off. Boy was I wrong.

        I did the same thing when I started my current job that offered a 401k… which is even worse, because in theory I should have realized how much would have been taken out… I just didn’t calculate what 3% was at the time haha.

        Reply
      3. RJ the Newbie

        I used to distribute checks to the interns. It was heartbreaking to see their faces when they realized what their net pay was after deductions.

        Reply
    2. CheeryO

      My mind was blown the first time I saw what my billable rate was as an intern. I still question them for billing my hours since I was so ridiculously clueless about all facets of the work process. I barely did anything that didn’t need heavy review by more senior staff.

      Reply
      1. Shrugged

        In my college for teapot design management, they taught us that you bill at a rate 3x what you pay the person. 1/3 is their pay. 1/3 is for overhead – lights, computer lease, internet access, water, health care, etc. The final third is for the company’s profit. With interns and our entry level staff at my current company we automatically take it to ~4x the pay rate: we still have the base pay, 1/4 for overhead, 1/4 for profit and then 1/4 for covering their hourly rate if they have to redo everything they did, or just worked really slow. It gives the budget enough padding to cover for an intern, otherwise the project managers would rebel and refuse to take on untrained staff.

        Reply
    3. batman

      @Amber T- how does that work then? I would also make that assumption, but I’ve never worked had to bill my work to different project codes so I have no idea how it works. Why is the billable rate so much higher?

      Reply
      1. zora

        The billable rate is what you charge the client for the work the employee does, and it includes overhead and profit you need to keep the company running.

        Reply
      2. Bea

        It’s like “labor cost” when a mechanic fixes a car or technician comes to fix an issue with your cable. It’ll be like $90 an hour instead of the $20 an hour the mechanic or tech gets.

        Reply
      3. Amber T

        What zora and Bea said. At that point, my only experience with billable rates had been seeing my dad work, who’s a contractor, so he gets paid his billable rate (a high number to account for everything they mentioned) or doesn’t get paid (when he’s doing filing or general office work for his own business, not for clients). I had thought I was getting the best of both worlds!

        Reply
  34. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    I am going to recount the Intern from Hell story, one of my absolute favorite terrible work stories. [Although now that I reread it, I realize she may have had a substance abuse problem :( ]

    Right before I came on as staff, Old Toxic Job hired a terrible legal intern. She had lied on her resume and about her experience during the interview process, where she presented like a normal and professional human. A week after she came on board, she became completely outlandish.

    She was working in our field office, in a very conservative (culturally, politically) part of California. Although the dress code is casual, she began showing up to work in really inappropriate attire—miniskirts that didn’t quite cover her underwear parts, cropped shirts that showed underboob, clothes that appeared dirty and unkempt, 6″ heels, etc. The Executive Director had to have multiple conversations with her about proper attire, but very little changed.

    At the same time, she began pressuring the older staff (think 50s/60s) to “party” with her, which of course was not something they were going to do. Then began to show up to work late and hungover (from the aforementioned “partying”), and lied about attending mandatory client meetings. There was a new staff person on our non-legal team who was relatively young, so she began to peer pressure him to party with her. He always declined, which apparently bothered her so much that she threatened to file a complaint against him saying that he had sexually assaulted her outside of work and was sexually harassing her at work unless she would come out with him. He was terrified because of the power dynamic, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be fired even though he’d done nothing wrong.

    Finally, while volunteering at a (dry!) work fundraiser at a major donor’s home, she came in noticeably drunk and high… all while staffing a table that required her to interact with other donors. When we called a cab for her, she refused to leave, insisting that we were discriminating against her because she was white (nevermind the other white interns were just fine), and also insisting that she was sober.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Oh, I forgot one other part: She also tried to reorganize the organization and foment a coup against the Executive Director (while she was living at the Exec Director’s house for the summer). She couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t take her suggestions regarding restaffing and restructuring. So then she tried to convince the entire staff that the ED was awful, terrible at her job, etc., explained why she would be a better director, and then tried to get the ED ousted.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        SHE DIDN’T. That’s the craziest part of the story, imo. The organization had never had an out of control intern like this before, and they were legit stumped about what to do—ride it out, or fire the intern. The ED is also extremely conflict-avoidant, which had a big role to play in why it was a Toxic Workplace.

        I think folks were also just so shocked they were kind of frozen. The intern in the field office the year before was truly the most wonderful and caring guy—having him around was like having a ray of sunshine in the office.

        Reply
        1. Gazebo Slayer

          I’d think “go out with me or I’ll fire a complaint saying you sexually harassed me” would be sexual harassment in and of itself. How horrifying, and also how harmful to people who actually ARE harassed and have trouble being believed. (Not to mention to this poor guy.)

          Reply
  35. limenotapple

    I was the awful intern. I was 19, and the internship was at a corporate real estate firm. I didn’t know ahead of time that the internship was mostly cold-calling to get information on buildings and offices-the specific location, number of square feet, number of tenants, etc. I *hated* it. This was 30 years ago and it was the worst.

    So, I didn’t do it. All summer, I just doodled and hid in the bathroom. I thought I was home free until the end of summer when someone wanted to see my work…and there was none. Probably, I should have quit right away, or my supervisor should have checked in with me, but neither happened.

    I did grow up since then.

    Reply
    1. Foreign Octopus

      Oh my god, this is me.

      I wasn’t an intern but this was my first office based job. I was 25 and it was working in recruitment. I told my manager at the interview that I was worried about cold calling but he brushed it off (red flag ignored due to desperation) and when I started the job I realised that it was all cold calling people about jobs they weren’t interested in because I couldn’t tell them who the company was or how much they were paying until later in the process.

      Instead of deciding the job wasn’t for me, as I would do now, I found a way to trick the system so that my call figures were high and minutes on the phone was high. I would dial the number to my mobile and then spend eight minutes chatting to myself in the voicemail – rinse and repeat.

      Looking back now, I am honestly amazed I wasn’t discovered and fired. I cringe at the thought of it now.

      Reply
        1. Foreign Octopus

          I’d pretend to have the same conversation I had with people who actually applied for the job. I’d create a name and do my whole spiel and then intersperse the silence with the occasional – uh-huh, hmm, I see – until it was over.

          Reply
      1. Bea

        If only all cold callers were as great as you are though. Think of all the people you saved ruining their days by calling them *.*

        Reply
        1. Foreign Octopus

          To be honest, I only started doing this when my boss decided that we weren’t getting enough CVs to our clients and made us start calling people at work. I think I did it a grand total of three times before I thought oh hell no, this is horrible, they’re at work – why, Jebus, why? The ironical thing is that my boss hated it when we took personal calls at work and he didn’t understand why other people might not want to talk about potential jobs whilst at their jobs.

          So glad to be away from there.

          Reply
          1. it's pumpkin spice season

            I briefly manned the only landline phone at a tech startup company, and aggressive recruiters would cold call down the employees listed on the “About us” on the website.

            So they’d call asking for Emily Jones, then we’d end the call. A minute later, the phone would ring, looking to speak to John Smith, and we’d end the call. A minute later, the phone would ring, looking to speak to Chen Wa, and we’d end the call. A minute later…and so on and so forth, until they’d hit every single one of our engineers, in the order we had them listed on the website.

            Reply
    2. Oh dear.

      Oh god, you’ve reminded me of one of my worst college jobs and my own horrible performance… calling prospective students at the admissions office.

      When we called students who had visited the school or requested information, it was fine, but a lot of the calls were numbers we’d purchased from a database who didn’t know our college or care to learn more about it. All of the other student workers who made calls seemed pretty diligent, but I hate the phone and only took the job because I needed money so I’d actually call the students who had a tracked visit or communication history and either pretend to call and get no answer or talk to a dial tone for everyone else. As far as I know, no ever found out. I’m mortified about this now, but it seemed to make sense at the time to college me.

      Reply
      1. Book Badger

        I did this on occasion when phone banking for $POLITICAL-CANDIDATE. The problem was that we had to meet goals for *numbers of calls*, not people successfully contacted, so there was an incentive to dial a lot of people without making contact because actual conversations took up more time. Besides, everyone who wasn’t successfully contacted would end up in the pool again, so someone would call them eventually even if it wasn’t me.

        So sometimes, especially if I was very bored, I’d list a bunch of people as being not home when I hadn’t called them at all, to be done faster. I also did that with people who I knew in person – the last thing I wanted was for someone in my small town to say, “Oh, Book Badger? Is that you? How’s your family doing?” when I was trying to convince them to vote for $CANDIDATE.

        Reply
  36. beepboopin

    Oh Lordy. This is a story from when I was a graduate intern at a Community Mental Health Clinic (social work student) and the fellow intern with me was cringeworthy in every way. She was a from a different program in our city but definitely acted in a way that made you questions why she was pursuing a career in social work in the first place. To preface, the CMHC had a medical clinic, provided case managers for clients, and had a day center for clients who qualified for Medicaid and were diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness. The first instance was when she got in a heated debate with some clients during a advocacy group session (the group was meant to inform them on latest mental health policies and how they can advocate for themselves). Our role was not to debate with the clients but rather to provide and educational and facilitation environment. My supervisor was not present during this group but luckily many of the clients reported her to other staff afterwards. Another incident later on was when she started debating with a highly religious client about their religious beliefs that she didn’t agree with! I witnessed this interaction along with other staff members but apparently no one reported it until my supervisor asked me later that week if I had encountered an “ethical dilemma that week.” The icing on the cake was when she showed up for an all day training wearing a sheer shirt with a sheer bra underneath. You could clearly see her nipples! My poor fellow male caseworker present during this training had to keep his head down all say as he was seated directly across from her. And this facility had registered sex offenders as their clientele. I am sure there were more incidents but these were the 2 biggies that stood out to me. Needless to say she was asked to leave at the end of the summer (she was supposed to have a 2 semester internship) and from what I can tell shortly left her social work program afterwards. And the kicker of all this? She was 36 years old! No real excuse for not knowing professional norms.

    Reply
  37. CoffeeCoffeeCoffee

    At my last job at a large, international foundation, we had a (paid) intern from a very prestigious “near-Ivy”university. She came in the first week and then didn’t show up the second week. We assumed on Monday she was sick and sent her an email and tried calling, but she didn’t respond. On Tuesday, when she didn’t show up, my boss got worried something could have happened to her- she lived alone and was from a different city with no family around, so he asked the police to do a home check. They found her fine, at home and watching Netflix, so we fired her. On Friday of that week, we went to a company lunch at a restaurant next door to our offices- and she was there working as a waitress. The restaurant manager told us later that she worked for one week then stopped showing up- no calls, no emails, she just never came back. About a year later, another employee and I were speculating on what happened to her so we googled her name and it turns out she had become an adult film star, using her real name nonetheless. Four years later, it still baffles me.

    Reply
  38. Leela

    Had someone tell us that they had balance issues due to a medical condition, so we didn’t think anything of it when they seemed slightly off balance. Or when they sort of slurred their words. Or when things were just a little….off. One day they spilled their opaque water bottle in front of us. Full of alcohol.

    Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        Long-range planning! Contrast this with the intern upthread who kissed the hand of the coworker on whom he had a crush, then realized that it would look weird if he didn’t go around kissing the hands of all the lady coworkers…

        Reply
  39. Orange You Glad

    I currently have a 6 month co-op student that is finishing up his work experience this week. He wasn’t the best or the worst employee but he has a tendency to rush through his work without proofreading/review. No better example of this was the e-mail I got from him last week calling out. The last sentence was “I hope this doesn’t cause any incontinence for the team”. My manager and I have been laughing about that ever since.

    Reply
    1. Elle

      Oh boy, you just reminded me of my most embarrassing intern moment. I had to give a pitch to the entire senior leadership team at the end of my internship. I had written “asses” on basically every single page. Someone finally pointed out at the Q&A section that its spelled “assess”.

      Reply
    2. Mia

      This actually reminds me of my own embarrassing (but also funny) mistake. I tend to proofread kinda poorly when I’m anxious and for one of my first assignments at my current job, I had to write ad copy for a high-end spa. I did a good job overall, but there was one glaringly nonsensical sentence I’d missed that read: “Revitalize your skin with a customazible chemical pee.”

      Reply
    3. Anon attorney

      One of our typists once produced a letter for me: “We enclose by way of intimidation pleading X”…

      (One intimates pleadings to the defendant in my jurisdiction. But I prefer her version )

      Reply
  40. Environmental Compliance

    As an intern in a group of 5 or so at a state agency, we all went out for drinks after some big project was completed. One intern decided to talk in graphic detail of how he was cheating on his girlfriend because apparently “we’re all friends now!”. Yeah, no.

    Few years later, as a FT employee in the same state agency but different regional office, we had interns. One decided that he needed to impress me in particular (he was in a different department, the only reason we ever interacted is because our desks were near each other), and would tell me all about cool stuff in the city (okay, thanks, but I’ve lived here for 3 years already, I know the bar over there also serves bacon) and leave me wildflowers on my desk. I was engaged at the time and would talk with my desk mate about wedding planning, or mention my future husband to coworkers. Intern (after ignoring my requests to leave me alone/knock it off with the flowers) finally got a talking to from his boss and was flabbergasted that 1) hey, do the work we are paying you to do and 2) EC’s getting married. Then he refused to speak with me at all for the remainder of the time he was there. He also apparently missed several fieldwork events by just not showing up, and told the boss he was just too hungover.

    Reply
  41. Prague

    Can’t remember if I’ve posted this before. When I was an intern at a government agency, one of my fellow interns began bringing in a large cardboard box of baby bunnies. I think it took three days for anyone to tell him to stop.

    It was the first year they’d had interns and no one knew how to handle anything. Escorting us everywhere – including the break room and restrooms – stopped after the first day. We only found out on the first day that it would take six weeks to get paid at all. One girl answered everything you told her with, “Really? Wooow….”

    So glad that’s well behind me.

    Reply
        1. Nea

          Excellent fertilizer, though. Better than coffee grounds for composting, and yes, I take (used) coffee grounds home from work.

          Reply
        2. pugsnbourbon

          Point-counterpoint: some domesticated rabbits eat their own droppings.

          Maybe that’s not a point in my favor, tho …

          Reply
          1. Free Meerkats

            Rabbits (all of them) are pseudo ruminants and produce two types of feces. Soft ones, usually produced at night, are partially digested and are eaten again, providing the nutrients in the fodder that the bacteria in the caecum have broken down from indigestible cellulose. If you are squeamish and prevent them from doing this, they will die. They also produce hard, dry feces, usually during the day, which are the undigested stuff.

            The More You Know!

            Reply
  42. DCGirl

    I worked at a department store after completing grad school and while looking for a job in my field (in a sucky economy at the time, sigh). The company decided to give Saturday-only jobs to high school students in a fashion merchandising program. Their assignment primarily was to empty the fitting rooms and return clothes to the correct departments. After a number of issue with general flakiness and not being present in our department, we found out that the company had hired a set of identical twins (assigned to different departments), one of them had flaked, and the other was doing her best to collect both paychecks.

    Reply
      1. DCGirl

        She seemed to be trying to do both jobs, but not succeeding. Our fitting room would fill up, we’d go looking for her, find her putting clothes back out in the other department, tell her to get back to our department…. Then their fitting room would fill up, they’d wonder where she was…. It’s amazing she got away with it for as long as she did.

        You’ve got to admire her chutzpah.

        Reply
        1. Kelly L.

          That one was obviously Elizabeth. Jessica was off on a beach somewhere.

          Liz swears she’ll never do a favor like this for her sister again, but we all know it’ll happen again in about 4 books.

          Reply
    1. moss boss

      I worked a fall/winter internship with my university library doing peer tutoring in information science. Another science student had also been hired, and he was upfront with the program manager that he would be spending the second semester outside the country and so could only do the fall semester tutoring.

      Well, our supervisor must have forgotten that conversation, because when the gentleman left for the winter, she began hassling his identical twin (who also went to the uni, different program, and certainly hadn’t been hired by the library) about not showing up for his shifts. The poor guy spent the winter semester trying to convince this lady that she was talking to one of a set of twins, but she wasn’t hearing it.

      To my understanding, the situation was not resolved until she finally saw them both in the same room.

      Reply
  43. LQ

    Worst intern story is 100% my fault. I assumed interns were …like me. And I’d had 2 for 2 years come back who were, grab a project and run with it and just go. And then I had the Intern I Failed.

    I had an event, she was trying to go into event planning. I’d done the event several years in a row, all the vendors and location had us penciled in so it should have been easy so I gave her everything I had, introduced her to a couple people and said…go forth!

    And she did, and the Monday before the event she came into my office sobbing, with the same folder. She’d done nothing. She didn’t know where to start or what to do. And I’d never checked in, I’d never had regular meetings, I never did Good Boss things. I completely and totally failed her. (We did manage to pull the event off, she and I basically spent the entire week and made it happen.)

    Reply
    1. Melly

      Assuming interns were like me is a mistake I made (embarrassingly) more than once. Now I am liberal with feedback and meetings. Also why I don’t take interns unless I’m mentally prepared to share so much of my time.

      Reply
  44. Former Hoosier

    I used to work in arts related non profit in a smaller town. We would send free tickets to an event to people who were listed in the paper as having achieved a promotion, new hired, etc. I had a summer intern who I gave the task to do this. I gave her the newspaper clipping, the form letter, the tickets and told her to send letters and tickets to each person in the article. She later came to me and said she couldn’t find an organization named let’s say, Teapot Time, in the phone book (this was a long time ago!). I asked her if she had looked up Teapot Time under “T” in the phone book and she had not. It hadn’t occurred to her.

    At the same organization I had an intern another summer who came in one day and asked if he could leave early to get a new driver’s license. We were very flexible and so I said yes. He then launched into a story stating that the night before he had been out to the bars and got really drunk. When he was driving home he decided to stop at a fast food restaurant for some food. There was a wait because it was late at night. And he passed out in his car. He woke up when someone was knocking on his window. He assumed that it was his food so he rolled down the window and handed his wallet to the person. But of course it was not a fast food worker and his wallet got stolen. I was so stunned that he told me this entire story as if it was appropriate to do so when I had said he could leave early without questioning why he needed to renew his license.

    Reply
    1. Quackeen

      I had a temp who was helping me file paper applications for a scholarship program. He labeled all the folders as Firstname Lastname, and filed them all alphabetically by first name.

      Reply
      1. Rey

        A few years ago my office had paperwork to distribute that included three different forms. Two forms were alphabetized by first name and the last form was alphabetized by last name. For ~400 people. Thankfully when it came up again the following year, we remembered how stupid and hateful that was and fixed it.

        Reply
      2. Nessun

        This will forever remind me of one of the “secretaries” in Are You Being Served? who, when asked where all the missing letters and bills were filed, said “Under ‘A’, of course! ‘A’ letter, ‘A’ bill…”

        Reply
  45. Elle

    We had an intern this summer who seemed intelligent and hard working enough, but her meeting etiquette was horrible. She spent all meeting, every meeting group chatting on her phone. Or she’d bring a full set of markers, etc and doodle away on ‘goals’ wall hanging posters(?) with goals such as ‘be nicer / more friendly’.
    She was female, and I’m the only female in our 20+ person group (male dominated industry) so I decided to take her under my wing and try to help her a little bit. I asked my friend from another department if she wanted to help me take this intern out to lunch. My thought was we’d spend a while getting to know her, letting her know the opportunities within our company, and then have a conversation about how badly texting during meetings was perceived and how she should probably knock it off (my boss would never have the spine to do this).
    We get her out to lunch, and there was this weird awkward one-upmanship coming from her on every topic. Somehow I ended up mentioning that collecting wine is one of my hobbies. She says, “Oh, my family and I only drink the BEST of wines, we would NEVER be caught drinking a wine from California… We drink exclusively wine from the Finger Lakes region.” oh, dear, under-aged, sweet thing.
    Then the topic turns to TV, turns out she loves The Bachelorette… except, it would seem, “that season with the black girl- I couldn’t STAND her ugly forehead!” She said this in front of my clearly biracial friend who was kind enough to accompany us to this lunch.
    We wrapped up as quickly as possible and I decided maybe I wasn’t so interested in helping this girl come back next year after all.

    Reply
    1. Delta Delta

      The Finger Lakes comment is sort of charming in a naive way. Based on all you said it sounds like she’s got some growing up to do.

      Reply
      1. Elle

        I agree. I thought she was just young and could really benefit from some mentoring, even after the Finger Lakes comment. But I drew the line when she launched into her racist rant about ugly women being given time on TV….

        Reply
  46. AdAgencyChick

    Our clients often have grad student interns for the summer. Last year it’s not that their intern behaved badly, but the client team came up to visit us, and the agency brass planned a fancy dinner for all of them, complete with party bus to take us to the dinner location.

    …except that everyone on the client team decided to fly home that night instead of spending the night in NYC, except the intern. I’m sure agency management was thrilled that they ended up spending thousands of dollars wining and dining someone who was highly unlikely to influence the business relationship in the future.

    The intern was thrilled. It was her first business trip ever and we treated her like a queen!

    Reply
  47. Nina

    Ahahaha, I had a weird summer intern when I worked on the Hill, but it prob wouldn’t translate well in a comment. I used to love reading the DC Summer Intern blog (talked about interns, was not an intern blog), though — so much fun. So much stupidity and undeserved egoism– kids thinking their intern badges should let them skip lines, wearing the badges on weekends doing touristy things, etc.

    Reply
    1. DCGirl

      Oh, the badges….. I used to commute through Union Station, which is right behind the Capitol, and would stop at the Au Bon Pain to pick up a bagel and caffeinated beverage morning. One day, Au Bon Pain was having issues with the computer system that powered the cash registers. The cashiers kept opening new registers but none of the m worked as the line moved from check stand and to check stand and got longer and longer, with 20+ in it by the time they got a register to work. No sooner had the cashier started ringing up the first customer than an intern toting the largest, foofiest drink you can get at Au Bon Pain (with extra whipped cream) sailed up to the front of the line, flashed her badge, and demanded to go first because she had an important job to go to. The woman at the head of the line told her that we all had somewhere to be and to go back to the end of the line. As scattered applause broke out, the intern slammed her big fancy drink down on the counter and stormed out of the train station.

      Reply
  48. Moose

    There might have been something in the water that summer, because in addition to the intern I talked about above, the other intern also was…interesting. We had a weekly department-wide meeting that we all attended. Every week I’d stop by her desk and we’d walk to the meeting together. One week she started to unplug her laptop, then stopped and said “Actually, I have something complicated up on the screen and I don’t want to mess it up.” I assumed she meant she just didn’t want to bring her laptop to the meeting, so I said “Okay!” and kept walking, assuming she was behind me. Halfway to the meeting I turned around to say something and she…wasn’t there. She didn’t mean she wasn’t bringing her laptop; she meant she wasn’t going to this regularly-scheduled required meeting At All. Part of this was miscommunication, but…why would she think that was a good reason to skip?!

    I might start using that as an excuse to skip meetings I don’t want to go to. “Sorry, I have something up on my screen!”

    Reply
  49. purpleparrots

    A friend of mine had a student teacher once who explained to the high school pupils in her class, many of whom were D1 and D2 wrestling recruits, that COLLEGE MARCHING BAND FLAG CORPS was the most physically demanding sport available to all humans. Full stop. She proceeded to detail how she suffered a debilitating shoulder injury from “over twirling,” which I presume prevented her from ascending to the ranks of professional flag-handlers.

    Please take comfort in the fact that a follow-up revealed that this person IS NOT educating our youths.

    Reply
    1. DCIdudette

      Uhh…
      Per Dr. Jeff Edwards, the chair of Physical Education and Athletic Training at Indiana State University, your student teacher is right.
      https://bleacherreport.com/articles/195762-drum-corps-international-the-athletes-who-bridge-art-and-sport

      Basically, the DCI (Drum Corp International) folks have the conditioning and oxygen use levels of marathon runners. So yeah, they hurt themselves pretty regularly and seriously. But marching band is for nerds, right?

      Reply
    2. EmilyAnn

      The sport is called Colorguard and I did it at a HS Level. Yes, it is very physically demanding. I don’t believe in comparing sports, so I have no idea if it is the hardest in the world, but it’s pretty difficult. We practiced just as much as the football team did 8 hours a week, outside in Houston, TX for football season. In addition to that we did Marching competitions that were very competitive. In the winter we did indoors and practiced even more and competed even more. It was a ton of hard work and physical activity. Mentally, memorizing your marching route while spinning equipment for 15 minutes straight is pretty difficult. Yes, we “twirled” flags, wooden rifles and sabers and a shoulder injuries from overuse could certainly occur.

      Reply
      1. Navy Jones

        Yes! My sister did color guard in high school and it was super, super intense. Incidentally my dad, who was a HS/college football player, became the most devoted fan of the sport. He still calls my sister during college halftime shows to ask if she noticed that one person in the back mucking up their throw or what have you. It’s the best.

        Reply