An intern made a very bad impression on the first day.

This was before I become a developer. I was working in commercial art sales. One day, I had an appointment to onboard two new interns together.

Intern 1 shows up and I ask her for her signed confidentiality agreement. The boss had sent it out a week before and told me the interns were bringing the signed paperwork on their first day. I see the surprised look on her face and she says she forgot. She’s lucky I had access to another copy. If I didn’t, things could have gotten pretty awkward if I had to contact my boss, who was out of office. If there’s no signed agreement, I can’t onboard her and I’d have to send her home. The appointment was made with intern 1’s availability in mind, so intern 1 could have spent her time coming to the office for nothing and being turned away because of a stupid mistake she made.

While we wait for intern 2 to arrive, I try to engage in small talk with intern 1. I try to get to know her a little better and I ask “are you still in college/university?” She word vomits that she thought she had graduated, but six months later she hadn’t received her diploma and she called the school and they told her her pre-college credits had not transferred, so she’s finishing those credits now.

Oh, intern, you should have just simplified all this to “I’m finishing up my degree” or “yes, I’m still in college.” This is TMI. You don’t want to give out information about yourself that could put you in a bad light. You need to know to be discreet about yourself. You’re 22 years old. It’s really bad judgement to say this to your supervisor (me) and we’ve only known each other for ten minutes. I’m not your friend, I’m your supervisor. Honestly, I thought the explanation didn’t make sense because she would have found out about the credits when she tried to transfer them and when she applied for graduation. I didn’t prod for more details.

I did have to tell my boss about intern 1 forgetting the paperwork. It’s not something the intern would be reprimanded for, but it is something that’s not a good sign. The paperwork had been sent by the boss a week prior. It’s troublesome that an intern would forget to complete an important task that was sent by the boss. This was never a problem with prior interns.

Boss did freak out because boss thought I onboarded intern 1 without intern agreeing to the confidentiality agreement. Boss hadn’t considered an intern would forget the paperwork and didn’t tell me what to do if this did happen. I reassured boss that I had printed a new copy and had intern 1 sign the agreement.

I didn’t say anything about the word vomit. The content was troubling, but I was concerned this would be gossip and I wasn’t out to sabotage the intern.

Forgetting the paperwork and the word vomit were signs the intern wasn’t reliable. Intern had trouble taking direction even when it was written down. She’d do stupid things like invite her boyfriend to the office for hours and let BF sit at the boss’s desk—boss caught her and boss’s office is visible from our public viewing floor, so visitor did see this too. I suspected she might have an diagnosed learning disability.

In the end, intern didn’t ask for a reference letter. Boss said that if intern asked for one in the future, the answer would be no.

Intern 1 is the reason why I don’t want to be in change of interns ever again even though I’m not in art sales anymore.

  • 0
    Judging from the described behaviour of intern, I'm thinking of how she passed the interview?
  • 0
    @Azib I have no idea. I suspect she had a “friend” answer and a “boss” answer for a lot of questions. And she thought I fit in the “friend” category.

    Boss was also recovering from a cold when she conducted interviews. So I think boss’s judgement was clouded.
  • 5
    I don't think this is bad.

    1. Everybody make mistakes. Maybe she just forgot or was nervous for the first day. It can also happen to me even though I am a good planner.

    2. Word vomit

    I did this often. Often when I am nervous, I just try to speak whatever comes to my mind. Also I tried to build a closer relationship with my the person I talked to, that can be achieved by being (sometimes overly) open.

    Obviously this is not good from infosec view, but most people don't work in in anything worth infosec-ing.

    But I do agree for other things (related to BF) that are not appropriate
  • 1
    @cho-uc Unfortunately, the paperwork was important. Boss had explained to intern prior to starting that the confidentiality agreement was required. Boss had trusted that intern could remember to bring the paperwork. I get that people forget and make mistakes, but it was a big mistake to make.
  • 0
    Meant to write that I suspected intern had UNdiagnosed learning disability.
  • 7
    Hires an intern, expects a professional. Asking someone to bring paperwork sets them up for failure. Every place I worked that required this sort of thing had HR do onboarding and provide paperwork at the time it was needed. That way HR isn't trying to hunt down paperwork. Sounds like this intern has a plethora of problems though.
  • 0
    @Demolishun Unfortunately, this was a very very small business. And in the art sales industry, most places don’t have HR. Boss was HR. I don’t think boss expected a professional, but did expect intern was responsible and could follow emailed instructions. Never occurred to boss that an intern would forget important paperwork because it never happened before. I don’t think it’s setting up an intern for failure.
  • 1
    Definitely not a good candidate. Can't have a child perform a representative role.

    The interviewer obviously failed miserably at her job as the candidate surely wasn't less nervous at the interview.

    Paperwork has definitely a waaaaay too high exposure in this story. Yep, just printing it out and letting the candidate sign on the spot is the obvious and correct way to handle that. Not a deal at all - not even a tiny one.

    That your boss didn't just expect you to handle such minor things on your own is a really bad sign. There seems to be no trust relationship whatsoever.
  • 1
    @Oktokolo I think boss thought “I’m the boss. Intern will pay attention to my directives. Intern is a competent individual.” Unfortunately, boss didn’t count on how intern-quality has dramatically gotten worse. Boss is also a lawyer, so I think that may be where the high expectations comes from.

    I’m pretty sure intern did have “friend” and “boss” answers. As internship went on, intern would continue to word vomit (and make incriminating statements) to me and be eloquent (so to speak) with boss. Eventually, I did bring up with boss the discrepancies in what intern was telling the both of us and I expressed doubt on intern’s credibility.
  • 1
    @Oktokolo Continued. I don’t think my boss had a lack of trust in me. It’s more that a contingency plan wasn’t in place because there was never a need for one.

    Boss and I have actually remained in contact and become friends after I switched careers. Boss has provided a lot of career opportunities and job references because I didn’t fuck up too badly or try to screw boss over and I learned from my mistakes.
  • 1
    @ctnqhk It would make me laugh if I found out boss's name was actually Boss.
  • 1
    I'd not survive in your (old?) company even a second. Best regards, non-neuronormal >.>
  • 1
    @Demolishun I would have used B.O. for business owner but I didn’t want anyone to think it meant body odor lol
  • 0
    @lankku I think you’d be fine as long as you’re not inviting your boyfriend/girlfriend over for hours when you’re alone and not letting your partner sit at the boss’s desk.
  • 0
    @prodigy214 Yeah, I’m ok with friends visiting at the workplace, but don’t do anything you wouldn’t want caught on camera or be caught if someone walked in on you. Yeah, we had cameras (in plain sight) and boyfriend was caught a second time visiting for hours.

    Also, intern wasn’t a college graduate…and her word vomit explanation didn’t exactly put her in a good light
  • 2
    In retrospect, I think I should have brought it up with boss as “hey, did you ask intern if she was still in college? Or something similar? Can we compare notes because she gave me an answer that was a little TMI and…concerning…”

    Or maybe I should have done the intern a kindness and told her, “what you just said about college. It might be in your best interest to not say that to anyone else. You don’t know how people will react.”

    IDK. Either one would be awkward. And the past is in the past now.
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