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Sometimes, You Have To Fire Interns

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I was still less than two years out of college, but I had set myself up with a nice little gig with a major league sports team in my hometown as a paid intern in the communications office. I did bitch work, but I was making enough to pay my own phone bill support myself. I finished my first season with the team to glowing reviews from my coworkers, and more importantly, my supervisor. They rewarded me with the super-official title of “Communications and Marketing Coordinator” which more importantly, came with a nice pay boost and health insurance. Score.

Man, that sounded sweet. I was coordinating shit left and right. We need extra water in the press box? You got it. Oh, what’s that? They need extra game notes in the locker room? On it. I was on my way to the top. After another season, I was given the title of “Communications Manager,” putting three interns in my direct supervision. This was it. I had my own team, for lack of a better term, of interns under my command. The power. My God, the power.

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I was stern, but fair. I ran a tight ship. No messing around. I trained them just as I had been trained and delegated the work evenly. I noticed one of the interns was pretty terrible, though. Borderline incompetent, even. She struggled with even the simplest of tasks. She lacked attention to detail and complained all the time. I told my boss about her one morning, and that’s when he laid the hammer down. “Okay. Fire her.”

I spent the entire day preparing myself to fire her. I had never fired anyone. Hell, I’d never even broken up with a serious girlfriend. What would I say? Should I be a dick? Would she cry? How bad do you have to fuck up as an intern to get fired?

Turns out I didn’t even have to worry about it. This broad didn’t even show up for work that night and I fired her via voicemail after she didn’t answer any of my calls. I girded my loins and left the voicemail.

“Chelsea. You missed work and didn’t let us know why. Can’t have that. Thanks for all your, um, work, but we’re going to have to move in a different direction and let you go.”

I guess that was easy enough. It was the perfect mix of passive-aggressiveness and professionalism. I was proud of myself. She emailed me the next week, begging for her internship back, but I didn’t break. You don’t fuck me and the organization over and get away with it.

So, that was the first time I had to fire somebody. The second time was much more interesting.

We hired a summer intern the next offseason. He was a real go-getter. At least he seemed that way when we first met him. I even got to sit in on the interview and toss him a couple of questions while my boss took charge of most of it. I was a little apprehensive about hiring him. He seemed like he thought this internship, or any internship for that matter, was below him. His resume was impressive, I gave him that. He just didn’t pass the test for me. Regardless, my boss overrode me and hired the kid.

I could tell we weren’t going to get along. This kid was constantly overstepping his bounds, while also doing shoddy work. He even figured out the work that I did throughout the day and started taking care of some of my responsibilities for me. That would have been welcome and appreciated, except he was neglecting his own intern responsibilities and doing what should be my own work so poorly that I would have to go back and correct his mistakes constantly.

Next thing I knew, he was showing up late for work and just screwing up constantly. I pulled him aside one day to let him know he was on thin ice and addressed all the issues he was having, but at the same time, I empathized with him about the struggles that I had as an intern. It was a real bonding experience.

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We kept the kid on during the season, his work improved (but was still mediocre) and he stayed in his lane for the most part. That is, until our first home game.

The first home game of a season is generally a nightmare. There’s a sell-out crowd and the staff is still trying to get acclimated with changes in operations, shake off the rust, etc. The last thing I would need is an intern fucking up royally as soon as the curtain went up.

I was hustling around the building all night, busting my ass. I noticed that the shitty intern was missing in action at different points in the night, and I couldn’t find him when I needed him most. I needed something from the team office, so I headed that way.

We usually get staff meals on gamedays, which are always catered by one of our corporate sponsors. That night’s game was catered by Schlotzky’s Deli. I don’t know if anyone else has Schlotzky’s where they live, but damn those sandwiches are top notch. I usually ate after the games, so I would stash a sandwich and chips on my desk to enjoy while I was writing the game wrap and press release. I genuinely looked forward to Schlotzky’s night. I mean, look at this masterpiece:

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So, I get to the office to grab some Sharpies or some other crap off my desk, and what do I find? The shitty intern snacking on my postgame meal, right there at my desk. He greeted me with a “Oh, hey dude.”

Really, pal? That’s all you got? How about “Oh, hey dude. Sorry I’m stuffing my face with the only food you were going to eat all day and getting dijonnaise all over your shit. I’ll get back to work now.”

Nope. Instead, he just sat there at my desk, as if nothing was wrong, eating what was likely at least his second dinner of the night, judging by the completely decimated trays of what once held those delicious Schlotzky’s sandwiches that gave me the only joy I had in life.

The stress had boiled over. I slammed my walkie-talkie on the desk and leaned in towards him, swiping the food off the desk, splattering ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato all over the wall. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Get your ass up and get the fuck out of here. Right fucking now.”

“Hey, sorry, man. I was just taking a break,” he said, while laughing nervously.

“Your job isn’t to take breaks. Your job is to help me out. We’re paying you AND giving you college credit for an INTERNSHIP and you’re in here eating my food and not working. The least you can do is act like you give a fuck,” I shot back. The stress had gone beyond boiling and turned into full-blown, vaporized fury.

“Alright, alright. I’ll get back to work,” he said as he got up and began to head out of the office. Right as he was headed back into the arena, I stopped him.

“You know what? Get the fuck outta here. You’re fired.”

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It was gratifying. I threw his suit coat at him and ushered him out of the building. This kid had just done enough work to get by in an industry where interns are expected to bust their ass for minimum wage and free sodas. It might be unfair, but it’s an unfair industry. There were thousands of kids who would kill to be in his position and he just flat out didn’t give two shits. Sure enough, we found a replacement intern the next day, who turned out to be much better and ended up taking my job last year when I moved on to another team.

So fair warning to all you future and current interns out there, don’t fuck around.

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