The Good Intern
New Year, New Goals
The First Day
Speaking
Posted by Michelle Pence - - 5 comments

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Not that long ago something happened at my internship that shook my faith in interning which as you can imagine is very hard to do.  In all of the internships I have done I have been faced with a range of obstacles from being given tasks I didn't think I could handle to even just restlessness, but one thing I hadn't come across yet (to my knowledge) was being literally hated by someone in the office.

I came into this internship excited and anxious to work, but never thought that this enthusiasm would rub someone the complete wrong way.  While I was bouncing around doing what I was told to do, little did I know that inside of one of my coworkers was a little ball of negativity towards me that was growing bigger and bigger each day.

My boss, who also happened to be my mentor and a former teacher with an extremely busy schedule, would occasionally have me meet for lunch to discuss new assignments and answer my questions.  What I didn't know at the time was back at the office my lunch meetings weren't sitting well with my coworker who had a jealous eye.  Since this was a learn-as-you-go type of internship I did my best to be self-sufficient and figure things out for myself, but inevitably questions came up.  When I did ask a question I was met with an unhelpful brick wall from the coworker who had somewhat of an obligation to help train me.  The worst was when my boss gave me a task that specifically required me to talk to her because it was impossible to get any help or direction.

I have pretty thick skin, but when my boss told me that my coworker was telling him that I wasn't doing my job or didn't deserve a holiday bonus I was flustered and realized my professional reputation was at stake.

After I found out about that I started avoiding contact at all cost.  I even started walking around the office in a way that let me avoid her desk.  There were a few very friendly people in the office who would be happy to try to help me so I started going to them for help and guidance.  I was lucky that the situation eventually worked itself out on its own with a change of staff, but I will never forget being "the hated intern".

Getting it through that tough situation taught me a few things about dealing with tension with coworkers.

  • If a situation with a coworker is hindering your ability to do your job go to your supervisor sooner rather than later.  It shouldn't be a fight just to fulfill your basic responsibilities.
  • The less drama the better.  An emotional blow-out is the last thing you want which is why you have to carefully decide whether or not a confrontation is the right choice.
  • Don't gossip about it.  Talking about the issue with other coworkers is only going to make the situation worse and will just drag it on and make it harder to ignore.
  • Find people you can rely on.  Chances are there are other people in the office that would be happy to help you with what you need.  Make an effort to find these people and utilize them instead of dwelling on your unhelpful coworker.
Have you ever been in a tough situation with a coworker.  If so, how did you handle the problem?


5 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    After reading this blog and several older ones you've posted, it seems that problems with co-workers follow you wherever you intern. You may want to rethink your rationale as to why these conflicts arise. As they say, when you think everyone around you is crazy, you may be the one that's nuts.

  2. I can see how it might seem like that, but actually I've had very few issues with co-workers in the past. It might look like there have been more because the topic of co-workers is something I like to discuss since I think that it's easy for issues to arise with new interns and established employees, especially if you add in age differences. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am an intern myself (first-time intern) and I think this blog gives some great and relatable insights on internship experience. It's my first blog of yours I am reading and I am excited to read more. Thank you for sharing.

  4. It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also get knowledge, from these type of blog, nice entry. Thanks


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