45+ Horror Stories From Interns Who Lived to Tell the Tale

45+ Horror Stories From Interns Who Lived to Tell the Tale

Internships are supposed to offer young people an opportunity to learn about their chosen careers and build connections. Unfortunately, they’re often simply used to get free labor and have someone around to do tasks that no one else wants to do. Well, these interns have had enough and are ready to share their internship horror stories with the world!

He Must’ve Been Really Hungry

This person’s boss really should’ve just hired a personal assistant, since that’s the type of work he’s got this poor intern doing! We highly doubt that the OP is learning anything important about their chosen career by bringing their boss a sandwich.

He Must’ve Been Really Hungry

Maybe they learned that this internship is not for them and their boss is taking advantage of the situation? Something tells us that’s not exactly what they were meant to walk away with…

Intern or Zombie?

We do have to admit that this may be what the OP’s chosen career is truly like. In that case, this isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world – at least now they can see if that career is really for them.

Intern or Zombie?

That being said, it’s still a huge ask of someone who doesn’t officially have the job and isn’t getting paid. Given that this person is an intern and not a full-time employee, they shouldn’t have had to work that many hours straight.

This Is Never Okay

Intern or not, what this person had to go through is completely unacceptable. Students have to worry about their grades suffering if they complain about harassment. Employees have to worry about getting fired for being “difficult” if they call someone out for bothering them.

This Is Never Okay

Meanwhile, interns have the fear of being both fired and getting a poor grade if they try to stand up for themselves at their internship. None of the above are acceptable situations – ever.

Playing the Blame Game

Unfortunately, a lot of internships take advantage of young interns because they know how badly the interns want to impress and, therefore, how unlikely they are to file an official complaint.

Playing the Blame Game

Even the paid internships are guilty of violating labor laws and not giving everything that was promised. A lot of people seem to think that paid internships will resolve the issue of free labor but somehow, even those internships manage to take advantage of their interns.

In Need of Earplugs

Open floor plan offices are always a bit tricky, as different people focus best in different environments. Some thrive in a lively, somewhat chaotic workplace — while others need complete silence and calm in order to get things done.

In Need of Earplugs

Though we can’t expect an entire workplace to change their vibe in order to accommodate one intern, screaming directly into the OP’s ear was completely uncalled for! Overall, it seems as though that office was just not the right fit for this intern.

Hand-Picked by the Boss

Um, why is anyone sitting in the boss’s office at all? We can’t think of a single reason why the boss would need an intern sitting with him each day, especially if it’s exclusively the female interns.

Hand-Picked by the Boss

What does he base it on? Who looks the cutest that day? Ugh, we don’t even want to know! Good on those young interns for complaining — that takes a lot of courage anyway but especially at an internship.

Committing a Crime

This isn’t really the internship’s fault, per se, as it was work that needed to be done and it’s relevant to the OP’s chosen career. However, that doesn’t make this task any less traumatizing. Interestingly, that intern looking at those photos would be illegal in any other context.

Committing a Crime

So, this person basically got asked to commit a crime. If we were instructed to commit a crime, we’d much rather it be something more like robbing a bank. Or punching Harvey Weinstein in the face. Either one…

Apology Flowers

While some internships face the issue of not having enough work for their interns, some places have too much work and no one’s available to provide proper training. These situations usually end up with the intern being forced to take on work that they’re not ready for yet.

Apology Flowers

This means risking that the intern will make a mistake (due to lack of training) — which in a field like the OP’s, could be dangerous for someone’s health.

More Money, More Problems

Honestly, we’re pretty surprised that this company trusted their intern with that much cash! We can’t even imagine how terrifying it must have been for the OP to carry all that money around. What if something had happened?

More Money, More Problems

As Dave Chappelle puts it: knowing that you have something everyone wants and will harm you in order to get is what women deal with every day. So, if the OP is female, this fear shouldn’t have been anything new to them.

The Rat Race

This poor intern seems to have had no clue as to what they’d gotten themselves into. Well, this would definitely serve as a very quick, and clear, way to know if genetics is really the field they want to work in.

The Rat Race

It’s probably best to learn that type of thing early on, rather than after they’ve already started a career. In cases like these, as traumatizing as it is, this internship was most likely a good thing.

How to Speed Up Time

Honestly, if this company didn’t have anything for the intern to do, then they should have just sent them home. We get that they probably really needed those items photocopied, but that’s not why the intern was there.

How to Speed Up Time

The OP was there to learn about their potential career — not complete the boring tasks that no one else wanted to do. At least the time went quickly, it’s just a shame that it was all a waste.

A Bug’s Life

We need a bit more information on this one before we can pass judgment about the internship. Was this person’s career field related to studying bugs and they were truly learning?

A Bug’s Life

Or were they supposed to do something completely different and simply got stuck with this disgusting task because everyone had the attitude of “Let’s make the intern do it”? Either way, we feel for this OP as the job was certainly anything but glamorous!

Making the Best of It

While this situation wasn’t ideal, it sounds like the intern had a great attitude about it! Instead of getting upset that their professor was confused about the role, the OP simply took the opportunity to discuss the research while also helping the guy fix his VCR.

Making the Best of It

While some internships try to take advantage of their interns, we really feel that this was just the case of an older gentleman who didn’t entirely understand the assignment. Good on the intern for finding a solution!

The Boss’s Dad’s Intern

Not only was this poor intern doing personal assistant work for their boss but they also had to do grunt work for their boss’s dad! At this point, why not just have the OP babysit the boss’s neighbor’s friend’s kids? We really shouldn’t give him any ideas…

The Boss’s Dad’s Intern

We may not be finance experts but something tells us that this intern didn’t learn anything about the field by cleaning spaghetti and meatballs or moving furniture.

This Feels Illegal

The OP is probably learning tons about becoming a lawyer while in school. What are they learning in their internship? How to plunge a toilet. While that’s a pretty useful skill, we don’t think it’s what this person set out to learn when they accepted the internship.

This Feels Illegal

We think this activity would have been appropriate if the OP were participating in a plumbing internship. Needing to plunge a toilet for a law internship seems… illegal.

The Internship That Wasn’t

If this company didn’t have any need for an intern, or any ability to properly show them the ropes, then why did they agree to participate in an internship program in the first place?

The Internship That Wasn’t

We understand that there were certain things the OP couldn’t do without the proper qualifications but shouldn’t the company have known that in advance and been able to prepare for it? We wonder what this poor intern did for the whole three weeks…

An Adult Film Intern

This unfortunate OP thought they were interning in a telemarking company when, apparently, they were interning in adult filmmaking! The fact that this boss had the audacity to request the intern to do this, and the fact that the secretary agreed, makes us think that this wasn’t the first time something like this happened at that office.

An Adult Film Intern

Maybe the whole program was a front for something else entirely and this intern just didn’t know to read between the lines?

There’s No Business Like Show Business

While some internships are paid, some are unpaid which is appalling enough within itself. What’s even more shocking is that there are some internships in which the interns actually pay for the experience! So, basically, the interns pay to provide free labor for the companies involved.

There’s No Business Like Show Business

Not only is this concept completely unfair to the interns but it also creates a class divide. People who can’t afford to participate in an internship miss out on that experience — and the ability to put it on their resumes.

Before Masks Were Trendy…

This person was walking around in masks long before the rest of us! In all honesty, that type of immersive journalism is probably the kind of thing the OP would be doing in their career and so, the internship itself really wasn’t bad.

Before Masks Were Trendy…

Still, it seems pretty embarrassing to have to do all that and it probably wasn’t their only assignment of this nature – this person was definitely paying their dues! Hey, everyone’s got to start somewhere, right?

We’re Going to Have Nightmares

In all honesty, we don’t think we’d be able to handle that haunted house because we’re going to have nightmares just thinking about what this intern went through!

We’re Going to Have Nightmares

To be fair, though, this is the career path they signed up for and it’s pretty on par with what one would expect from a haunted house production. We get that the experience is awful but the OP couldn’t have thought that this internship would be something like finger-painting or cuddling puppies, right?

Withholding Information

There’s sending the intern to do the tasks no one else wants to do and then there’s… this. This is just a whole new level of messed up and whoever gave the OP this task should really be fired.

Withholding Information

They probably didn’t tell the intern who the guy was because they didn’t want the young intern to refuse the task. Sadly, they probably wouldn’t have refused even if they had known, that’s how much interns can be pressured to stick with a program that isn’t working out for them.

Only in NYC

Ah, New York City. It’s probably the only place in the world where someone could walk around with a shopping cart filled with adult toys and no one would think anything of it. Had this incident happened anywhere else, the OP probably would have had some explaining to do.

Only in NYC

The part that really kills us here is the “payment” the intern got for the cab. If the boss is going to give reimbursement that isn’t actually money, at least have it be something relevant for the individual!

Apparently, the Devil Does Wear Prada

If this particular boss was so fussy about which camera the interns got, she should’ve given clear instructions about which one she wanted. Or even better yet, she should’ve given that task to someone whose actual job it is to run her errands.

Apparently, the Devil Does Wear Prada

Furthermore, not only was the OP not getting paid but they were actually spending their own money on the job! Imagine spending money to run someone’s errands just to have them be rude to you afterward? Yeah, no thanks.

Ummm, Yes?

At least this OP knew what they were getting into and they were prepared for this type of interaction. Still, though, this situation must have been absolutely terrifying!

Ummm, Yes?

We really have to hand it to the internship program – this intern will definitely be prepared for this field and undoubtedly know if it’s what they want to do. Sadly, this was probably just the first of many similar experiences this person will have throughout their career.

No Prior Experience Necessary

We really want to know what this internship was! If this was the type of task the OP would have to do in their career, then although it sounds beyond tedious, it’s completely fair.

No Prior Experience Necessary

However, we have a feeling that this was just something that needed to get done in the office, that day, and no one else wanted to do it. We sincerely hope that we’re wrong. Either way, this intern will probably never wear beaded jewelry again!

Throwing Away Hopes and Dreams

Working for a government agency can always be tricky, as there’s often a lot of red tape. It’s entirely possible that the OP’s boss wouldn’t be able to do anything with all the ideas because of the level of bureaucracy involved.

Throwing Away Hopes and Dreams

That being said, she should’ve had the decency to not throw all of the intern’s hard work in the trash… right in front of their face! She could have at least pretended to entertain the ideas and then waited till the intern left the room.

At Least Put on Clothes

Wow, it seems like this internship contained way more drama than the red carpet would have! Who needs those tickets when you’re a part of this intern’s saga?

At Least Put on Clothes

This story really has everything that a big-budget Hollywood movie contains: an innocent protagonist, a cruel antagonist, nudity, betrayal, a dramatic scene in which someone quits in public, and the main character finding their way home. Sometimes, reality truly is more interesting than fiction.

Photography or Gardening?

So, this person was supposed to learn photography and instead they learned… gardening? Well, at least they learned something! Seriously, though, why didn’t this photographer just hire a gardener?

Photography or Gardening?

At least the OP still maintained their love of photography, despite all this, and is managing to create a career for themselves in the field. It’s just a shame that they had to waste three whole weeks just to get one single day of mentorship.

Tired of Tires

It appears that this person spent their internship learning how to order coffee and ice cream, and how to lift a tire without breaking their back. While those are all relevant skills, we’re not sure that the OP needed to dedicate their precious career-building time to this stuff.

Tired of Tires

We just hope this intern’s back doesn’t hurt from carrying both the tires and the weight of their boss’s ego. Which do you think was heavier?

Figuring it Out

It’s always frustrating when a new workplace expects you just figure everything out on your own since no one has the patience to actually teach you. It’s even more frustrating when they get upset at you for (inevitably) messing up!

Figuring it Out

It looks like the OP is resourceful enough and managed to figure things out — no thanks to their internship, of course. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with not having time to train interns but then maybe don’t hire one.

Bad Energy

Imagine getting fired from your job because of a plant? How unbelievably furious would you be? Of all the reasons to fire someone, this has got to top the charts as the absolute worst one.

Bad Energy

Maybe it would have been wise of the intern to sneak the plant some sunlight when their boss wasn’t looking? We’re sure everyone else at the office, who’s worried about their jobs, would be eternally grateful. That boss does seem like a lot of crazy — even by fashion industry standards.

Morning Coffee Run

It’s a pretty great feeling to know that you’ve spent the whole day prepping everything that you need to, in order to make the next stage of the day go smoothly. The OP was probably really pleased with themselves that they managed to arrange the room before leaving work, so they wouldn’t have to come in again.

Morning Coffee Run

Unfortunately, their boss doesn’t value efficiency — they simply wanted their intern to be at their beck and call every moment. So much for planning ahead…

Intern’s Best Friend

What kind of psychopath just decides that they don’t want their dog anymore? Furthermore, what kind of idiot chooses their boyfriend over their dog?! Lastly, what kind of boss gives a living being to a 20-year-old intern who’s expressed that they don’t know how to care for it?

Intern’s Best Friend

We think that this employer needs to seriously re-evaluate her life choices. She doesn’t seem to deserve her intern and she certainly doesn’t deserve her dog.

Taking One for the Team

This intern was put in an impossible situation. On the one hand, they weren’t really qualified to coach. On the other hand, they couldn’t leave all those kids disappointed by ending the season early.

Taking One for the Team

It was completely unfair for the OP to be put in that situation and it was the internship’s responsibility to make sure things like that don’t happen. Good on the OP for trying to make the best of it but we really don’t blame them for turning down the offer to continue.

How to Become a Nurse

People tend to complain about the price of medical services but what they don’t realize is that medical professionals make that much after years of studying and earning very little.

How to Become a Nurse

In fact, as the OP has pointed out, nurses have to pay for their internship experiences! So, the next time you see your doctor and feel frustrated by how much they make, just keep in mind what they went through to get there.

A Moral Dilemma

The fact that companies actually do this is pretty messed up. The fact that they get young interns, who don’t really have a choice, to carry out this morally questionable task — well, that’s even more messed up.

A Moral Dilemma

We would definitely rethink where we get our services after an internship like that one. We hope the OP didn’t beat themselves up too hard over this because it’s really the company who should be ashamed, not the intern.

Sculpting Young Minds

This pretty much sums up most internships: a young intern goes in all excited, bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed, only to discover that they’re going to be doing a whole lot of tedious and/or demeaning tasks that will teach them nothing.

Sculpting Young Minds

Even if the company itself is great doesn’t mean that the internship will be worth the intern’s time. We think the OP’s story perfectly displays why internships should no longer be a thing. Or, at the very least, they should be managed better.

The Plant Person

So this boss seriously requested fake plans and then was surprised that they didn’t look real? Talk about unrealistic expectations! We’re not sure what this internship was for but we sincerely doubt that it was plant-related.

The Plant Person

The thing is that the boss would never ask a regular employee to do this task, so why ask the intern? It’s this type of behavior that shows a total lack of respect for the entire concept of internships.

Irony at Its Best

Ah, the hypocrisy of politicians. It’s pretty difficult to believe that this politician couldn’t see the irony in the situation. If the OP were really sneaky, they’d find a way to let the opposing party know that his competition was doing the exact same thing that he was pointing fingers at.

Irony at Its Best

Well, we suppose that this intern is doing the smart thing and simply revealing all on the internet — where they can remain safe and anonymous.

Lord Have Mercy

It’s always problematic when someone tries to impose their personal beliefs on an entire group of people. It’s even more problematic when it’s a boss pushing their faith onto their employees.

Lord Have Mercy

As the famous quote goes: “Religion is like one’s private parts. It’s perfectly fine to have it, it’s perfectly fine to be proud of it. But, if you take it out and start waving it in my face, we’re gonna have a problem.”

Ummm, No?

We’re pretty sure that this intern can consider this to be harassment. She’s supposed to be used as a toy for patients just because she’s an attractive woman? Really?

Ummm, No?

So, her boss’s reasoning is that this particular exam is what the patient would want from this woman but what about what the woman wants? We’re pretty sure that she doesn’t desire to perform unnecessary exams in someone’s privates just for the sake of a sucky internship.

Starving Artist

We imagine that instead of making empty promises to an intern, this company could have simply hired an assistant to run errands and a cleaning person to tidy up the venues. Instead, they chose to basically use the internship as a way to get free labor.

Starving Artist

The OP seems fine with working for free in exchange for help with finding a job in the music industry. Unfortunately, they really just wasted their time at that place, as that company wasn’t interested in helping them start their career.

Clip Away

The fact that this company didn’t have the budget to scan files but they did have the budget to make an intern clip things all day, pretty much says everything that we need to know about internships. We can’t even imagine how mind-numbing this task must have been!

Clip Away

While the OP may have gotten their school credits, they certainly didn’t learn anything about public relations. They probably did learn a lot about organizing binders, though…

Stuck in Traffic

Does this woman really expect her intern to be responsible for London city traffic?! Honestly, given that the ride was right at rush hour and the distance was quite far, it’s a miracle that the VIPs were only 15 minutes late and not more.

Stuck in Traffic

Even if the delay was somehow the intern’s fault, that doesn’t excuse screaming at them and implying that they’re incompetent. No boss should speak to their subordinates like that, whether it’s an employee or an intern.

Watching and Waiting

Once again, we’ve come across an internship that chose not to bother with properly teaching the intern how to do the job. Instead, they gave the intern “busy” work and then wondered why the person couldn’t help out with the daily workload.

Watching and Waiting

At least this intern got to see how the job is done — that’s more than some of the other interns who’ve shared can say. We understand that it was probably awkward to just watch without being able to help, but at least it’s something!