If you’re on a more or less successful path in your career, the chances are you were an intern at some point in your life. A training position set apart from regular employment dates back to the Middle Ages when an apprentice would learn a craft from an expert and would be granted access to work in the guild. These days, internships are somewhat a burden rather than an opportunity, since it’s often misused as a loophole to attract unpaid or low-paid entry level workforce.
But the challenges of interning don’t end just there. It often entails the same duties and responsibilities as other workers have, plus all eyes are laid on you whenever you make a first slip-up. This is what happened to one unnamed intern at HBO Max who, according to the company, has “mistakenly sent out an empty test email to a portion of our HBO Max mailing list.” HBO wasted no time to call out the offender, stating that “yes, it was an intern.”
And that’s when people on Twitter took the intern’s side, sharing the most wholesome support stories that remind everyone how we’ve all been there, done that.
Image credits: EduardoCuevas
Image credits: HBOMaxHelp
If an odd email from HBO Max landed in your inbox recently, you're not alone. On Thursday, HBO Max announced that an email with the subject line "Integration Test Email #1" went out to an unknown number of its subscribers. The streaming company then took to Twitter to openly put the blame on an unnamed intern. Their tweet stated "As the jokes pile in, yes, it was the intern. No, really. And we're helping them through it."
But people on social media platform made sure to comfort the ‘offender’ and offered them some emotional comfort in a series of #DearIntern tweets that reflected on their own work failures and embarrassments, as well as their office horror stories.
To find out an expert’s take on this viral incident, Bored Panda reached out to Dawn Moss, the founder of “Your Interview Coach” who has been helping both candidates and hiring managers through the recruitment and selection process since 2013. Dawn said that Twitter’s support for the intern shows that “there'll be a lot of people who were interns at the beginning of their career and they will definitely empathize with this experience.”
“Being new in any job can be a massive learning curve,” she said and continued: “It doesn't matter how much or little experience you have, each company has its own way of doing things and it takes time to learn those unique ways. I think people can relate to making mistakes as well. Who hasn't made a mistake at work? Most people will feel bad, stressed and/or disappointed with themselves when they make mistakes.” That's why Dawn believes the intern received so much support and empathy.
When asked whether, in her opinion, it's right for such a megacompany like HBO Max to publicly put their blame on an intern, Dawn said that although making mistakes is uncomfortable, they’re a normal part of learning. “In my opinion, it was a little unfair to blame the intern. I think as an intern you should be allowed to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and be able to make these mistakes in private.”
Having said that, the job interview coach added that we don't know quite how this was handled internally. “It's been good publicity for them, so maybe they were delighted with the intern and asked if they could share,” she added.
And to the internet-famous unnamed intern from HBO Max, Dawn suggests networking widely in the business and asking lots and lots of questions. “The more people you talk to around the business, the more they will realize most people have been there and done it and I guarantee they've made their fair share of mistakes too.”
Moreover, “I'd also suggest spending time with experienced people in the company, they will totally understand the learning curve and the politics of the office. It really is good to talk,” she concluded.
Bored Panda also spoke with the Twitter user José Carlos Chávez, who was among the many who shared support for the unnamed HBO Max intern on the social media platform. José shared his own slip-up during his internship online: “As an intern, I dropped a table in a prod database. I decided to resign immediately, packed up my stuff and went to tell my boss. She was talking to the CEO of the company and got terrified and went back to my spot to find out the connection expired before it could run.”
Amassing 14.9k likes, José’s post went viral. “I think sharing our personal mistakes like mine encourages other people who are in difficulties to understand that everyone makes mistakes and that it’s totally fine,” the Barcelona-based software engineer told us. He also added that such human errors are fine “as long as we learn and grow from them.”
According to the 2020/2021 data on internships in the US presented by Compare Camp, completing internships increases job offers by 16%. It is generally believed that an internship paves the way for a full-time position later as the data shows that 70% of companies offer interns a full-time job, and 80% of students accept them. That makes 56% of interns getting full-time jobs from their internships.
On the other hand, it’s widely known that such an opportunity to develop a skill set needed to land a career often demands some sacrifices. Hence, unpaid internships are still a grim reality for many students who are willing to go far to earn industry experience.
The same data showed that an estimated 500,000 to one million Americans work as unpaid interns every year. Not only does it put an extra amount of pressure, both financial and psychological, on an intern, it also leads to fewer job offers. Paid internships are 34% more likely to lead to at least one job offer after graduation versus unpaid internships.