How do/did you handle being "the intern"?


Before I start I want to say 2 things. First my team does like me, I know this for a fact, they like the work I do and like going out for drinks after work. Second is I have been around "chirping" before, I've grown up playing hockey, so I have been around locker room talk all my life.

This post is essentially asking how did/do you handle being looked down on all the time, made fun of for just being an intern, and basically just treated as a second class citizen in the workforce while you were/are an intern?

This question stems from my experience working with my team for 2 and a half months. Everyday I hear the classic intern jokes, whenever I make a little mistake it's cause I'm a stupid intern, or just chirped for absolutely no reason. I'm fine with this, obviously it's a little frustrating when you are doing good work but 99% of the time all you get is the shit end of the stick and 1% of the time management makes you will useful.

To give you a sense of what I'm referring to, I have given two experiences from yesterday alone outlining what it's like at work.

The first was something very little, but it bothered me quite a bit. Basically what happened was a co-worker unpacked a box and was breaking it down to throw out. My manager from across the room came over and asked her what the hell she was doing, jobs like this are meant for the stupid intern. My co-worker breaking the box said she did not mind doing it, but my manager insisted to grab the box from her and place it on my desk so that I can do what I was hired to do.

The second thing was a little more serious. A few colleagues went out for drinks, including my director. The night started as usual, chirps here and there, but took a turn when my director was about 12 drinks deep. At this point he got physical with me, started by throwing food at me in front of all my colleagues because I'm an intern, literally no other reason, even my colleagues tried to talk some sense into him. He continued to physically push me shake me, he almost ripped my dress shirt, until a co-worker told him enough is enough. While all this physical shit is going on, he continues to chirp me on the usual stuff he always does. At this point I had enough, and told my coworkers I was meeting friends at other bar and left.

On Monday I'm left with two options. The first is to continue to do my work put my head down and tell myself there's only a month and a half left. This will do me good because I will leave with good connections, good reviews and all will be fine, besides the fact I will be taking the intern shit for another month and a half. The second choice is to stand up for myself and basically tell my managers, and director whenever they chirp me to go fuck themselves. They will quickly realize I'm not fucking around and will probably dislike me as a co-worker, as they can't push me around like they use to, resulting in a bad review and not so good connections in the future. But maybe I would be treated as a human being, and I wouldn't mind that.

What do you guys think?

Comments (73)

Jul 15, 2017 - 1:10pm

never had an experience like that before seems like your office is just shitty culture and people who don't like what they do. They probably do like you, but just take the shit for the next few weeks and don't work for this group again. You can stick it to your director when he asks you to return next summer and you tell him you have better offers.

Jul 15, 2017 - 1:13pm

brah, if your boss throws food at you, order a f'ing cake from the waitress with extra whipped cream and when it arrives stand up and put the whole thing in his face.

would have been legendary

you would have been a legend

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jul 15, 2017 - 1:18pm

OP, you shouldn't be taking that kind of treatment. It's possible you carry yourself a bit too submissively to his abuse, or he could just be an asshat. I faced similar treatment but never physical. I agree that throwing a cake at his candy ass would have been legendary.

in it 2 win it
Jul 15, 2017 - 1:45pm

Per your 1st point - that's typical intern crap. I had way, way worse happen to me on a daily basis at the IB I still (lol) work for.
Per your 2nd point - that's over the line. We deliberately put pressure on our interns, but then never cross the thin line to open insults/verbal abuse. I'm pretty sure someone will actually talk to the director about how he behaved. Just keep your head down tbh: honestly nothing to gain in trying to blow this up. Walk into the office on Monday as if nothing happened.

Jul 17, 2017 - 11:50am

It sucks but whining about it isn't going to resolve anything and can't be used to your advantage. Just accept the shitty culture and move on when your internship is over.

In the future, obviously don't return to work for this team. However, get what you can from it with regards to the connections and experience. If your co-workers were involved in telling the director to back off, the issue has likely been touched on or addressed by now. Do not retaliate, it will only end poorly for you and not only will you get treated like shit but your experience and recommendations will go down the drain as well.

Summing up, grab your balls and suck it up. Only 1.5 months to go and you'll be better off when you come out on the other side.

Good luck.

"Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:50pm

Generally, I'd say put your head down and ride out the last few weeks, but the physical stuff though is way over the line.

I know it's hard to do, but I'd go into his office today, and say that while you understand you are an intern and the bottom of the totem pole, what happened over drinks was completely unacceptable, and you won't allow yourself to be put in that position again. He will likely apologize (he may not even remember it happened). If he's such an ass that he blusters and yells, you probably should get HR or his boss involved as he's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Don't use that as a threat in the conversation though...

Jul 17, 2017 - 2:44pm

all I’ll say is this: when a pack of wolves downs its prey, the alpha eats the liver first as the others watch


Look at all these wannabe richies hating on an expensive salad.
Mar 25, 2018 - 9:01pm

Nasty ways to treat an intern? (Originally Posted: 01/03/2017)

I interned at a BB firm.

The way some people treated us interns seemed quite horrendous.

My first week started off by being sworn/shouted at as my mentor didn't tell me whether each trader needed a copy of morning report in English or their local language. I was politely asking one of the traders which version he would've preferred, and in return I received a torrent of abuse.

To me all this seemed nothing but unreasonable.

Is it just me who thought this was nasty?

Mar 25, 2018 - 9:10pm

I'm all about the jokes but the whole point of jokes/messing around is that there's actually some element of humor to it. It's like when you're with your buddies cracking jokes, some things are funny and some aren't. You don't rip on someone's speech impediment or their need to wear glasses because there's no funny element to that, you're just socially unaware or trying to cut people down to feel cool. You're also supposed to make sure you know the other person is cool with it. Being a prick without any intention of humor just makes you look like an idiot.

Mar 25, 2018 - 9:30pm

I was slightly surprised to find way too many people supporting the OP. Trading floors don't come with trigger warnings and safe spaces - get the fuck over it. If you can't take a bit of abuse go back to school and become a professor.

As a junior I got the shit beaten out of me on the floor - I'd come home miserable and feeling like shit for it. Getting shouted at because you did a MISTAKE is nothing to be shocked at. I would get shouted over for things that were not in my control most of the time and were not mistakes. I got paid a lot of money for the job I did, and once you grow out of your analyst role the abuse more or less stops, or it's just you can start laughing at yourself and taking the piss out of your colleagues - that's the way things are, it makes you tough. There are ass holes everywhere, deal with it, especially on trading floors. Traders are stressed the fuck out all the time, if some shit head fucks up something like a trade report and tries to blame it on "his mentor who didn't hold his hand properly" - expect to be fucked with.

As a senior person on the floor I never gave abuse to juniors, but that's just the way I am. Some of my friends gave shit to the interns, you are here for that - I would usually spend about one hour with each intern for the whole summer and that was it, the rest of the time I could not be bothered with them. You are a waste of space until you can start making money, be thankful you are on that floor - many people would kill for that position.

Mar 25, 2018 - 9:36pm

A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention -- do I have your attention?

In S&T, it's always like that, almost 99.99% of the time as they want to weed out the insecure people. You might think this was nasty but most of the S&T professionals have gone through the same ritual, it's more of a rite of passage than anything. My suggestions is take it with a light heart, hit back and show them it doesn't touch you in any way. Don't feel insulted, let the all the abuse go past you and let your work speak for itself.

If you hate it so much, keep your head down, get a better offer after finishing and don't come back to the place, it's pretty straightforward. Everybody has been shouted at and criticized at some point of their career but the most important thing is how you take it, if you take the criticism constructively and don't let it affect you personally you should be well on your way. Just my .02 cents.

You're walking around blind without a cane, pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place. Gordon Gekko
Mar 25, 2018 - 9:40pm

What, you can't handle a few comments?
Good grief--the OP is the perfect example of what's messed up with people now adays.
If you can't handle that, then get yourself out of Finance.
I don't think even an IB wouldn't get that kind of reaction from people once in a while.
Sure I bet its more frequent on the S&T side but still.
Oh, and news flash, trigger warnings and safe spaces don't exist in exciting fields.
If you want a life where nothing happens then fine, go work at some non-for-profit who knows where that does nothing interesting.
But if you want to make something out of yourself, this is it.
So either role with it, or quit--whining and complaining isn't going to earn you anyone's sympathy--neither here nor on the trading floor.

Jul 17, 2017 - 3:38pm

Your boss sounds terrible. I (nor my peers) have ever felt like a second-class citizens as interns. The only negative experience I had was typically having NOTHING to do. It was just shadowing meetings, doing mundane research assignments, and walking-through deal underwriting. Generally, I felt that most people were friendly, understanding that I had little knowledge but sincere interest in their industry and firm.

Jul 17, 2017 - 4:43pm

SB'd because you played hockey growing up, you play beer league?

I feel bad for you though man, I had a similar situation occur but not for a job that meant anything. Boss was way over the top basically shoving me around when we were getting drinks, I just never showed back up to work after that. You're almost helpless in that situation because you cant realistically do anything to the guy.

If I were you and the job was important on the resume I would just dig in, finish it out and get a good reference from someone. But by all means, avoid this place like the plague in the future.

My .02 is a bit worthless here because I'm just an intern, but I hope it gets better for you hombre.

Jul 17, 2017 - 5:06pm

Hrm, I would see what happens on Monday. He may come up and apologize to you. I once went out for a company dinner where the MD talked about prostitutes and orgies the entire dinner (yes the entire dinner- yes it was very repetitive), which made everyone including me uncomfortable. I would have made a couple of jokes but the guy seemed itching for a fight from me. I can't explain it. It's like he wanted me to get upset. I remained as cool as a cucumber throughout that and focused on my pasta and lemon sorbet (we were at a fancy Italian restaurant).

The next day everyone on my team apologized to me for his behavior as did the MD.

He ended up getting fired a few months later. Not because of me, but because the guy just ticked off the right people.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********
Jul 17, 2017 - 9:40pm

No apology from him today, I'm pretty sure he thinks what he did was acceptable. My manager who was also there and witnessed everything actually apologized on behalf of my director. And I've had an identical experience with my director as you just explained. The first time I ever went out for drinks with my director he ended up talking about his past sex life, pretty uncomfortable to hear from a guy who is suppose to be looked up to and is also about 40 years old.

Jul 17, 2017 - 6:42pm

This is unacceptable as I'm sure you know. Here is my advice- think of it as practice for the "real world". Become more serious. Don't laugh when they laugh at you. Do the job but respect yourself enough that you're not adding more fuel to the "alpha" atmosphere by being submissive. This kind of stuff can wear on your self image and have a long term impact on your confidence which can impact your future. I almost always tell people to stick things out but this is is beyond tolerable. How did it go today with the MD? In the future when the line is crossed a simple "I will not tolerate this" and walking away handles the situation properly. I'm sorry and am routing for at a minimum an apology.

Jul 17, 2017 - 9:38pm

You didn't do anything wrong and there is no way you could have expected this to happen. We've all been in tough situations where you may feel pretty powerless. Try never to let go of your "power" which is respect for yourself and respect for others. Again- I honestly think that something needs to be said/done. Only for the reason that as a young person experiences like this can really hamper your life. A resolution would help you to put this behind you. Start today being all business. Maybe even skip out on the drinks for a while. Send a message. Basically walk quietly and carry a big stick. Let them sweat it out.

Jul 17, 2017 - 7:33pm

I found myself in a similar but not as intense situation.... although I was actually a full time hire. They referred to me as the intern, blamed my mistakes on being the intern etc. They never physically harassed me or called me stupid though.

Anyway, the 'worst' situation was when I was told about ugly sweater day. As you may have already guessed, this was an inside joke, and everyone was in on it except me ---- I showed up and was the only participant of the ugly sweater day. Everyone slowly crept to my desk in the morning to see how ugly I had dressed myself.

They told me at the end of my tenure that the only reason they did these things is because they knew I could handle it. After only three months there, I had built a better rapport with some managers than some people who had been there for multiple years. If these people truly like you, this may be tough love as described above. My situation was at a defense company, not a financial institution. When you add type A finance personalities to my situation, it sounds close to what you are describing.

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