Intern Screw-Ups: 6 Cautionary and Hilarious Tales

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Nowadays, it seems like internships are the new black (Which also means orange isn’t). It’s more common for 21st century employers to seek college graduates with more experience than just a degree in their field. As grand of an opportunity as they are, internships come with their share of strange, funny and downright embarrassing moments. CM reached out to some interns who’ve been down this road of chaos and zaniness.

 1. We Interrupt This Programming to Bring You

ALWAYS pay close attention to what you’re doing at work and follow your supervisor’s directions. Florida State University sophomore Tori Lutz said, “I had an eight-week internship at Accord Productions, a local television production studio in my hometown. One day, I completely messed up the scheduled programming for an entire day. I put the schedule for Monday inside of the Tuesday slot.” If you’re feeling like a lost soul swimming in a fishbowl, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Oh and don’t worry about how things ended up for Lutz. “I had help fixing the situation from a supervisor and then was much more careful and attentive from there on out,” said Lutz.

2. Boy, Interrupted

Once comfortable with your tasks, don’t make the mistake of letting your guard down like Zachary Sherry, a recent grad from Florida State University. He said, “While I was doing backstage work with Into the Woods at my internship with Entr’acte Theatrix in Boca Raton, I forgot that all of the actors’ microphones were turned on near the end of the show, and I was mid-conversation with one of the actresses, trying to impress her with my award-winning banter while it went on. The whole audience heard our conversation.” Unless you’re willing to subject yourself to some serious embarrassment, treat each day of work like it’s your first and strive to impress your boss.

3. Read Above, Around and Between the Lines

Your grade school teachers were serious when they told you to read the directions. To work efficiently, you need to follow instructions to the “T” or you’ll appear lazy and disorganized. “I run an internship program and most of the mistakes happen in the application process. The most common mistake I see is that the applicants simply don’t follow the instructions on how to submit the application. If an employer says to have everything in a single PDF file, don’t send several PDF files,” Florida State University junior Nick Lewis said. Do you really want to be THAT guy? That’s certainly not the impression that you want to leave on current or prospective employers (unless you don’t want a job).

4. Starstruck

“At Seminole Sports Marketing, we had to carry around cardboard cutouts of basketball players around campus or to games. They were literally life size. Once I was holding onto a cardboard cutout on the back of a golf cart when we passed the real player on campus and we both just started laughing. It was weird, but definitely a good laugh,” said Kenzie Fitzpatrick, a recent graduate of Florida State University. As hard as it may seem, it is crucial to keep from becoming the office fangirl by fawning over important professional figures. Even if you work for Amblin Entertainment and Steven Spielberg waltzes right by your office, keep your cool. Treat these figures as you would any other colleague. Otherwise, you’ll shed your veil of legitimacy faster than you can say, “Can I have your autograph?” Even if some of these meetings don’t go as smoothly like Fitzpatrick’s, channel your inner T-Swift and shake it off.

5. Bubble, Bubble, Science Projects and Trouble

Ask your supervisor about his professional life and what steps he took to make it in his field. He’ll shed insight on how you can go about forging your path. “During one of my breaks, my boss and I started talking about ridiculous elementary science projects. His fourth grade project was inventing something called ‘Jacuzzi Pants.’ We spent the next four hours brainstorming the best way to bring the jacuzzi experience to your pants, including heating, bubbles and even mood-lighting effects. Not only did we laugh nearly the entire four hours, I actually learned a ton about product design, identifying a target market, launch strategies and everything else you need to do to start a business,” said Florida State University senior Megan McGilvray. Even if your topic of conversation turns out to be as random as childhood science projects, soak it in and learn.

6. All Choked Up

Internships are no different than most situations in life, and Murphy’s Law will prevail. If you don’t believe me, take it from William McCluskey, founder and CEO of Proper Channel. “I was interning at Ardaman and Associates, a Geotechnical Engineering firm back in 2005. The lead environmental engineer took me and another intern out into the field to learn how to take well samples. Basically, you lower a metal probe tied to a rope down a well, then pull it back up wrapping the rope in a very specific way. Well, my friend got a little confused with this ‘specific method’ and somehow managed to wrap the rope around his neck and began choking himself with the tool. We rushed over immediately, but we had a hard time rescuing him because we couldn’t stop laughing.” Make sure you stay alert and keep a lookout for errors that could prove disastrous because one mistake could mean your neck.

Tamiera is a sophomore studying Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. She is a proud addict of Coldplay, American Horror Story, and candy corn. Her life’s mission is to travel the world, publish her novels, and finish a tube of ChapStick.

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