Interning in Somalia and sex with the boss: Work experience horror stories
It’s not all about making the tea
Putting in the long, unpaid hours as a low intern is the only way to make it onto a top grad scheme.
Most of the days will be spent reorganising files, making drinks and trying to network with people who will never remember your name. But for every successful week of work experience, there’s a horror story where every possible thing went wrong.
Whether it’s having sex with the boss and not being asked back, to getting hit by a car and limping back to the office, we found out some about some of the worst work internship experiences.
Sleeping with the boss
Making friends with your co-workers is one way to get ahead on an internship, but one third year English student took it a step further when she started sleeping with her boss after a company social. During a summer long marketing internship in London, the girl – who understandably wants to stay anonymous – started a relationship with her boss.
She said: “Everyone in the office made me feel very comfortable from the outset, probably because everyone was young and got on really well – this meant socialising out of work was a big part of the job.
“When you’re seeing a lot of people, getting frustrated at work, then getting drunk after, one thing tends to lead to another and before I knew it, I was secretly sleeping with my boss.
“It wasn’t just a one night stand – this was the whole shabang.
“People were asking about it but we just laughed it off. It was always our game to see how far we could test each other before someone cracked. It was the kind of fling you should feel guilty about but it just gets you too excited, especially when you have to have meetings together.
“A few months down the line and back at uni, he doesn’t reply to my messages and we’ve lost all contact so it’s fair to say I probably won’t be working there again.”
Getting run over but being too embarrassed to admit it to co-workers
Bob Palmer was interning at FHM magazine and was sent off to interview cricketer Stuart Broad. It looked set to be a great day, getting out the office to interview a major sports star, but the Leeds graduate ended up getting hit by a motorbike on his way there.
Despite getting knocked over, Bob got up, did the interview covered in blood and didn’t even mention it to his boss – until he had to be rushed to hospital the next day.
He said: “I ran across the road in front of some stopped traffic, but didn’t realise there was a motorbike flying up the outside lane which hit me and knocked me straight down on the ground.
“Everyone around me had stopped and was asking if I was ok, but I was obviously in shock so I just sort of sprung back up, gathered my things from the road, handed the guy his wing mirror back and limped off.
“Stuart Broad’s agent opened the door to this sweaty, shaking guy with blood all over his hands and huge rips in the knees of his jeans. The weird thing is I didn’t even tell them what had happened (I didn’t want to look unprofessional) but he sat me down and offered me a sandwich and a glass of water so he clearly knew something was wrong.”
Bob decided not to tell the guys at FHM about what happened, so they sent him to limp off on another job. But the next day he realised something was seriously wrong.
“I tried to get out of bed and collapsed on my now blackish-purple foot. I crawled into my brother’s room and he drove me to A&E. By the time I turned up at the office that afternoon they all thought I’d died.
“I’m credited in the issue of FHM I worked on as ‘Dead Bob’ and if I ever get an email from any of the guys there they’ll still call me it. As far as nicknames go, it’s not the worst.”
Interning in Somalia
Conrad Young decided to take a work experience placement in Somalia, one of the most dangerous places in the world. He travelled to Hargeisa, the capital of northern Somalia, for a two week placement at a foreign aid consultancy firm.
Conrad said: “It sounded like an exhilarating experience in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. What’s not to like? It wasn’t as dangerous as I thought it would be.
“Sure, I couldn’t leave the hotel without a bodyguard with an AK47 and a vehicle – but the general ambiance was really calm. The Somalians were some of the best people I ever met, humorous, sociable and intelligent.
“I got paid £500 for three weeks of work including accommodation but it was really more about the experience than the money. Mogadishu, the capital, is where most of the terrorist activity is and luckily we were far away from that.”
Campaigning in Scotland and getting abused for your English accent
Edinburgh third year Robin Brinkworth interned for a Scottish MSP just before the referendum last year. He spent his summer walking around council estates in Perth and knocking on doors for the Tory politician.
Robin said: “I was getting repeatedly told to fuck off because of my English accent.
“On my birthday I got told to fuck off three times before 10am.”
Some of the abuse got so bad, Robin was asked to avoid certain houses. He said: “Nationalists were so aggressive that we were told to avoid them as it would only cause more trouble.
“Phone campaigning one day resulted in one woman screaming at me, thinking I’d been bussed up from England somewhere specially to campaign. She refused to believe that I live in Scotland and my mum and most of my family are Scottish. That was pleasant.”
Despite all this, Robin would still recommend doing work experience for an MSP. He said: “I have so much more respect for Scottish politics and politicians in general after this.
“Just avoid the nutty nationalists – they were an utter embarrassment to other nationalists who were generally polite and friendly.”
Getting stalked by press after a company crisis
Ghazaleh Ghodrati, an Exeter Arabic student, interned with the Royal Geographical Society back in 2011, and was there in the week when one of their expeditions was attacked by a polar bear in Norway. Desperate to get a comment from a member of staff, Ghazaleh was followed down the street by journalists on her lunch break.
“It’s safe to say the press wanted any info they could find, so I was followed out the office at lunchtime. They were all formed outside of the entrance of the building and were shouting questions at me.
“I’d already kept my head down while I was walking past so they only followed me across the road. I think they finally got the idea that I wouldn’t be able to help any of them.”
Speaking on the atmosphere in the office, Ghazaleh said: “They were actually all quite calm, but the receptionists looked quite out of their depth.
“I was shadowing a member of the human resources department and assisting with daily admin work.
“While it wasn’t the most fascinating thing, I got to look at some pretty cool journals and talk to some really interesting people.”