“Shutting down my system, I stood up, hoping that today would not be like the other days – and then I felt someone behind me….”
That’s how we began our quest last week for a quickie internship horror stories run ahead of the first Friday the 13th for the year. And we hoped that those who had faced such situations would come forward and help. Share circumstances, that made them question humanity at work, feel creeped out or even simply pack up and leave. And help so that others could take heed and be prepared – if these circumstances fell to them.
Thank you, everyone, for participating. The countdown of internship horror stories listed below is a careful selection from the entire lot we received. As a thank you, we’re sharing FreeCharge coupons with everyone who participated. And we will connect with those who won pretty soon.
These is our count of the most spine-chilling Internship Horror Stories and how you can fight your way through them:
The Bad Boss (And How to Best Them):
There’s the blamer, the laggard, the toxic beast and then the plain bad boss. And then’s there’s a combination of all of these traits. While most of us complain (fairly and unfairly) about bosses that made us quit, here’s an extent to the extreme from one of our contest winners and how she overcame it!
The “Khooni Monday Meetings”, as the name suggests, were like living hell for me most of the times.
For my breakfast, I used to feed myself with the sales data and storage capacity of around 17 plants early morning. In the board meeting with the seniors, I could be harassed by asking any datum in the middle of any conversation at any point in time.
My loving and caring boss (pun intended) ensured that he developed a stomach-ache every afternoon and leave for home handing me over his punching card for around 18 months. Every Monday, however, his strategy was quite straight forward and neat. For everything that went right during the week, he was the responsible one and for everything that went wrong, of course I was the responsible one. I really liked his simplicity and innocence. But unfortunately, I was always out of words to admire and acknowledge his “Master Plan”.
On one such Monday, I was questioned about a mail from my ID, which had led to a product line being stopped. On a spot, my boss also bombarded me with the question in his extremely polite tone “Yes Geetika, by whose permission did you send the mail?” I replied with the same sweet tone “Sir, since you typed the mail from my system, I thought there is no permission required as you are my boss. Next time, I will take the permission.”
His face turned red and I thought my time was over.
However, things were pretty normal on “The Terrific Tuesday” and my boss was showering the same innocence and politeness the next day. I thanked #HanumanJI and joined my work life back with the same vigour.
Things to take away:
Dealing with a ‘bad boss’ requires patience, loads of documentation of all work done and political correctness. Acknowledging the facts, the way Geetika Goyal, our contest winner did, works in the heat of events, rather than turning into a spluttering head. Setting right and wrong apart is important, but consider the costs – is it high stake enough to lose your job?
Sometimes, it’s wise to take the blame, while others are about pacifying the other parties without doing so.
Workspace Horrors: Franken Lab as office space
Startups and new-age entrepreneurs have changed a lot, including office space. But what if your new-age office turns into a walk through an old, musty haunted home or Frankenstein lab?
My first internship experience after my graduation was really good so I thought of giving an another shot for these startup internships and jobs. I got to know about this 3D printing company on Facebook, applied and got called for the interview page.
However, my first look inside the office brought up initial misgivings. The office was actually a 2 bedroom flat with a horrible kitchen filled with all broken 3D models. I chose to ignore it as work matters not the surroundings and if they give me a nice stipend and a job offer so why not. Joining a week later, I decided to focus on learning the work instead.
Meanwhile, pigeons had moved into the kitchen and something else had come in too – rats.
One day, while I was busy designing my posts, I felt something on my feet. I thought it must be some discarded model or my bag. But then that model or bag couldn’t climb on me and the moment I saw under the table, was when it went to high hell.
I saw two rats running around my feet as if they were playing hide n seek. I just jumped off from my seat and ran to another room. And just as I neared the door – I fell. Hard. There was a charging cord which I had entangled in.
I still completed my internship and got a 3D printed rat as a farewell gift.
Things to take away:
There’s nothing more agonizing than entering your workspace and see your dreams slip away – especially on something as basic as how your first workspace looks. And if you, like our first runner-up Aditi Chopra, have gotten the short string, then try to quickly gauge whether it is a situation that you can face or not. While coming away with an internship horror story may be a laugh for the old days, it would certainly not be one to cite on your CV.
Dressing don’ts for office:
There are times when you dress inappropriately for office or goof up with office attire – and then there are those when you’re judged solely on it. This is Shivani Talwar’s story of the second instance.
I was employed by a Turkish cargo passenger handling company at Delhi Airport for a senior managerial position. At my appointment, only my work and performance were expected from me.
Three months later, I realised that work was barely noticed and I started digging for the reason why. After a few days, a fellow counterpart from Mumbai arrived in the absence of my Reporting Manager and said that I have to go shopping with her. When I raised a question why should I accompany you for shopping? The reason given to me was that my so-called western dressing is not up to the mark or bosses’ expectation.
She said I needed a complete makeover – from my intimate wear to my overall dressing. My work clothes were western formals and not attractive or short length dresses, (which apparently did not go well as) my job involved client meeting.
That was my last working day at the company.
Lessons to take away:
ALWAYS ASK. Workplace codes, conduct, appropriate work wear are things that are never said overtly, but can be known once you start asking the right questions. And if you don’t like the answers coming through, take a call.