Interns from hell – part 2

So part one of interns from hell featured an obnoxious healthcare intern who would rather read a fashion magazine then tend to patients, and a computer programmer who blagged his way into hot water. Part two retells the experience of a negative know-it-all and a complete mismatch between role and personality.

He’s Mr. Know-it-all

Online marketing and e-commerce is a dynamic and fast-changing market. An opportunity to work with a small, but vibrant company would, you expect, be a great opportunity for a final year student to get some invaluable experience.

That’s what recruitment consultant Jayne thought anyway. ‘The company managed three online shops and worked with other companies, sometimes on an international basis.  It was an opportunity to stake your claim for a full-time position if you were good enough and keen enough, and also get paid in the process.’

Jayne put the company in touch with a third-year business student from one of the ‘red brick’ universities. ‘It was a no-brainer really. He had all the qualities needed. He had set up his own website at university, selling cheap, but funky clothing to fellow students and his academic record was brilliant.’

Allan, managing director of the e-commerce company, takes up the story. ‘He came in and I was ready to make him a coffee or tea, but gave up on that when he criticised everything about the company my colleague and I had started up!’

But often it is good to get a different view on things and take a bit of criticism on board isn’t it?

‘Of course,’ says Allan. ‘But he was unrelenting in his criticism and even said we were lucky to have him on the team… let me be the judge of that I thought.’

Allan and his colleagues put up with it for a whole week (‘The longest week of my life!’ quips Allan), but the negativity took its toll.

‘I tried to engage and take on his ideas, but he was THE leader and would just not stop sniping. It was like being a team leader in The Apprentice and being hounded constantly by another candidate because your ideas and execution were crap. I was dying to say: “You’re fired!” I never did, but made it clear he did not fit in.

‘I’m running a successful company, thank you very much and I listen to a lot of good advice, but his never got through to me because he never stopped in his criticism. I’m a lot more selective now. I want ambitious people with ideas, but I also want a team member.’

Missed opportunity

Sometimes companies are just starting up, but the benefits for an intern can be great. Grant Nichols had founded a business in Manchester delivering hot food to local businesses. ‘It was all shoestring stuff at the start, but the idea was there and I had some backing. It was offering a twist on the usual and getting away from the standard Chinese, pizza, Indian kind of thing.’

Grant offered a 1-6 month contract and £110 per week, with the promise of a chief executive officer role if you were good enough and a pretty tasty yearly salary to go with it.

‘I went to a local recruitment consultants who managed to find three potential young candidates who would hit the ground running. We both agreed that one candidate, Sally, was head and shoulders above the rest. The fact she was a debating champion at her college seemed to indicate she was no shrinking violet either,’ says Grant.

Sally was expected to work directly with Grant to help work out how to fine tune the business process, develop business ideas and generally run the office when Grant was not around. ‘Of course I expected to train Sally up a bit, but then she had to get in the driving seat and keep the business on the road,’ says Grant.

Unfortunately, Sally was more of a shrinking violet when it came down to it. ‘She was a lovely person, but was afraid of talking to people on the phone (she would pretend it wasn’t ringing), and was a real “yes” person when questioned and not prepared to haggle.’

Grant was upset to see her go, but the hunger for a potentially great CEO job was just not with her.

‘I was carrying her and I needed someone with more fire in their belly. It’s always tough on your first job and this one was tougher than most. I did keep in touch though and Sally is now working on website designs for the business, so we all got something out of it in the end,’ Grant reveals.

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