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let’s hear your weird summer intern stories — Ask a Manager

We usually wound up with pretty good interns each summer, we’d bring in people who were in MBA programs to work in process improvement.

There was one guy who was smart, but was very wrapped up in the concept of advanced degrees, and would be incredibly condescending to those who had “only a bachelors degree”. Which was odd because he, himself, had only a bachelors degree at the time, since he was still working on his masters.

He was also a bit arrogant-cocky, assumed he was the smartest person in the room (in a department of very smart people) and that he should be in charge of more things, and could manage any situation.

At the end of the internship, we had a meeting where each intern presented on whatever project they had been working on, with data, analysis, recommendations. While they had a FT employee who acted as an advisor as they were developing the presentation, they created all the content and decided what was important to include. We were a very fact/data / logic based group, so recommendations should make sense given the data presented, and the norm is to have backup slides that drill down on any summaries and support the interpretation, conclusion.

All was well with interns 1, 2, and 3. Things went pretty much as expected, some where stronger than others, or more involved, but they were all pretty good with no obvious gaps or gaffes. Then came the Smarter than Everyone intern. He starts rolling through his presentation, and there’s a clear logic jump from the data summary on page 5 and the conclusion on page 6, recommendation on page 7. So people started asking questions to clarify his thinking. No problem … he goes to his back up slides and shows one that … still does not make it make sense. So he pulls out another. Nope.

Finally someone asks about some data point, factor that … had he presented about it … probably would have tied his presentation together. He realizes the lifeline he’s been tossed and starts confidently expounding on that, what the data showed, the trends, the obvious conclusions “As you can see here during Q3 and Q4 the output increase dramatically …”

… while gesturing at a completely blank wall.

3 minutes of him pantomiming as though there were an actual PowerPoint slide to illustrate what he was saying. Our director finally cut it off when the intern pantomimed advancing to the next (also imaginary) slide to make his next point.

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