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‘Cause You’re An Intern, WA DA DA WAP WA DAAAAAA!

, , , , , , | Working | September 13, 2021

I recently graduated as a mature student. I am thirty-six but have always been somewhat baby-faced and so am often mistaken for being younger than I actually am. I manage to secure an internship at a company I used to work for prior to attending university but in a different department. I had left to attend university in order to switch careers.

A large part of my role is finding ways to improve our products, which sometimes means proposing new ways of doing things in other departments and asking for said departments’ input and cooperation.

Most of my coworkers are friendly and open to ideas and suggestions, and we get along great… except [Coworker #1]. She works as a supervisor in the same department I used to work in. I have no idea what I did, but she is always combative and hostile toward me. She’s fine with every other coworker except me for some reason. It’s important to note that [Coworker #1] did not work for the company when I worked there. She was hired sometime after I left.

During a meeting, I have to suggest some improvements and tweaks to [Coworker #1]’s department to help with a major change we are planning for one of our products. She doesn’t take it well. She tries to shoot down every proposal point I give her, saying things like, “That’s just not how it’s done,” or, “You can’t expect our department to do that.” Having worked in that department for years as a manager, my suggestions are always tailored to what her department can do. I should note it’s only MY proposals she is rejecting.

Eventually, we have to end the meeting. She says — obviously insincerely — that she will take what I’ve said “into consideration.”

We end the meeting. My manager says he’ll have a word with [Coworker #1]’s manager.

The next day, she storms up to my desk.

Me: “Oh, hi, [Coworker #1]. How can I—”

Coworker #1: “Who do you think you are, telling me how to run my department?”

Me: “That’s my job. We need everyone’s cooperation to—”

Coworker #1: “No. You’re an intern. You don’t get to tell anyone what to do. What do you know about having a real job? The classroom is nothing like the real world.”

Me: “Actually, I—”

Coworker #1: “Don’t you dare tell me how to do my job. You don’t know the first thing about it.”

Me: “Actually, I know a lot about [Department] because I used to work there. And not just work in it; I was a manager.”

Coworker #1: “Ugh. If you’re going to lie, at least make it believable.”

[Coworker #1] insults me a few more times about being some upstart student who doesn’t know her a*** from her elbow and then storms off again. 

The moment she leaves, I send my manager a message to let him know what happened. Her behaviour is reported to Human Resources, and she is disciplined and put on a warning. Thankfully, she is smart enough to leave me alone after that, but she is still combative in meetings, trying to shoot down every proposal I lay out more aggressively than before, but her manager overrides her.

Then, one day, I overhear her talking to [Coworker #2] in the break room.

Coworker #1: “I can’t believe they’re making us follow her stupid proposals. It’s not like she knows anything about [department].”

Coworker #2: “Oh, you mean [My Name]?”

Coworker #1: “Yeah.”

Coworker #2: “Oh, didn’t you know? She used to run [department] for years. She left to go to university.”

[Coworker #1] went silent.

You’d think that, after that, [Coworker #1] would finally see the light and apologise for the way she treated me, or at least stop being so hostile, but she doubled down and continued to be combative toward me in meetings, and she started to question every little thing I did. When my internship ended, I was hired permanently in the research and development team, which is exactly where I wanted to be. [Coworker #1], however, became even more hostile until she eventually left to work somewhere else. I can’t say that I miss her.

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