Internships Can Go Wrong

Dear R------,

It's been 4 years since I last "worked" for you…four years since you last took advantage of me.

When I started interning for you, I thought I would have the opportunity to learn from your experience, but just a few weeks in, it became clear that I was wrong and clearly a bad fit for your company.

You claimed that my skill level was below yours, which I had a hard time believing, and you encouraged me to be less "safe" in my work. You said I didn't integrate feedback into my work, and that I wasn't trainable. After working with me for 13 hours, you decided that I needed to be worth the time you were losing to (or investing in?) me without even thinking about how government laws required you to pay me at least minimum wage for any work I did for you that benefitted your company.

As if all of that were not enough, you felt it was necessary to contact my other internship and confirm your findings about me were true. You then emailed us both that you were putting me on unpaid probation for 9 months following a 6 month externship in which I also wouldn't be paid.

(Unpaid probation for an internship?! I mean -- really?!? What were you thinking?! Did you actually think I would continue?)

R------, dear R------, I hate to break it to you dear, but your work wasn't that good. You may have been paid for what you did, but, frankly, your work embarrassed me. I was not above learning and trying to improve, but, if I was not integrating your feedback, it was because I had no interest in merely doing "as good" as you. I have never had any interest in just being average, and I certainly did not want to be humiliated by my own hard work. I didn't want to be just like you.

The very last e-mail you sent to me may have upset me, made me cry, stolen my confidence for a month or so, and resulted in the loss of not one but two internships that summer. Unfortunately, it was a necessary learning experience for me. I needed to find a company that would value my work and encourage me to improve. Shortly after I quit working for you, a few e-mails went out and within days I had three positions offered to me. Clearly you were wrong about something.

R------, I should have reported your company to my school and talked with the labor department. You were wrong for using me and then holding the work I had done for you over my head stating that I had cost you time and money.

Maybe your work has improved since that time (although your website doesn't look it!), and maybe I just happened to meet you at a difficult point in your life. I'd say I hope business is going well, but, considering your work, I'm really hoping people have better sense/taste than to go to you with their "vintage" images and video. Perhaps you have learned from your mistakes as I have mine?

It is truly a diamond in the rough if you manage to snag an internship or job with a company that respects you, believes in you, and is willing to actually pay you at some point. I am lucky to have found that and more…without your help.

Thanks for nothing,


** If you are currently interning with any company, be fully aware of your rights and never do anything you are uncomfortable with. If they are getting paid for your work, you should be too.

*** This blog post was written in response to today's blogtember challenge of writing a letter to someone on facebook. (Although I may have taken it in a bit of a weird direction!)

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