Interns from hell – part 1

Internships are brilliant ways for young people to step onto the career ladder and get a foot in the door in their desired field. Most interns know that it takes hard graft to create a successful outcome, but these interns from hell had a slightly different understanding of the concept.


Wrong time, wrong place

‘I’m always keen to see young faces wanting to learn more around the ward I work,’ says sister Fiona Smith at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, ‘but a recent student placement was just a waste of everyone’s time.’

Mentors, nurses and other healthcare staff are all on hand to offer guidance to a student on placement, but a key requirement from the student is compassion and the ability to work hard.

‘One student came to work on our ward caring for older people,’ says Fiona. ‘She seemed disinterested, but a lot of young people can appear like that at first, so we tried to engage her in what we were doing, but nothing…’

In the second week, the cracks started to show. ‘She would turn up hours (not minutes) late after late night outs. I warned her on the first occasion, but it just seemed to go in one ear and out the other.’

Fiona and her colleagues persevered, but on her second late arrival that week (and a final warning to boot), her attitude led Fiona and her team to show her the door.

‘The day of that final warning, a nurse came up to me and told me that the student had refused to plump up the pillows of an older man on the ward, because she wanted to finish an article in a magazine she was reading.’

Fiona went straight round to see for herself and the student was sitting in the back of the reception area with her feet up reading.

‘I asked her: “What are you doing here?” and she just said, “Search me.” I asked her if she could plump up the pillows of Mr Andrews as he looked uncomfortable. She just said: “In a minute.” She was gone after that I can assure you.’


Language problem

‘Don’t always trust what an interviewee tells you,’ explains Max. ‘Remember they are prone to boast and sometimes lie about their knowledge and practical experience.’

Max should know. ‘I had a client in the domestic pet goods business. Online orders were going awry because of bugs in the computer program. They had an experienced programmer trying to develop an up-to-date and clean system, but time was running out.’

The company turned to Max and he remembered a CV he had seen from a student who had extensive programming knowledge.

‘I arranged a meeting and the candidate was really impressive, displaying a great knowledge of Java and other programming languages. Then the client said: “We are very impressed with you, but we are using C#. Have you any experience of this?” “Of course!” the candidate replied.’

A three-month paid internship was agreed and the intern started straight away

‘He [the candidate] might have been great with Java, but he knew nothing about C#,’ says Max. ‘It was a mess as the other programmer rumbled him straight away. With such a tight time-scale to get things done, he couldn’t afford to carry anyone, let alone teach them a programming language!

‘The client was livid, but then admitted she was taken in as much as me by the student at interview. I also had another candidate in the wings with knowledge of C#, who helped get the project done… the pet supplies company is now doing a roaring trade.

I now make use of other online job sites, such as totaljobs, to help sort the wheat from the chaff, reach more people and keep a few cards up my sleeve.’

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