Jeff Pearlman

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The Not-to-be Internship

Was talking with a friend this morning. Her son is a college junior, just came home for the summer.

Earlier this year he applied for an internship at a large network. The gig would have been in human resources, his preferred field. He flew to New York for the interview (from his college down south), felt it went well. A couple of weeks later he was offered the position—dream achieved. It was paid, intensive; certainly—with a well-done summer—a job offer could have awaited.

“He was thrilled,” my friend said. “Just thrilled.”

Shortly after being offered the job, my friend’s son wrote his soon-to-be supervisor a quick “Thank You” note. He wrote it on his iPhone. He failed to capitalize the word, “Thursday.”

The next day, the soon-to-be-supervisor called. She was no longer his soon-to-be supervisor. “We don’t think you’re right for this,” she told him, citing the sloppiness. They spoke, and the company ultimately picked someone else.

Because of this …

Surprisingly, I have mixed thoughts.

On the one hand—what a remarkably dick move. This is a college kid, and you’re helping to crush a dream. He was your top candidate—until he failed to capitalized “Thursday” in a message? Really? As my friend noted, it’s entirely possible someone else came along, or a supervisor called in a favor, and this was a convenient excuse.

And yet …

I also get it. I warn my students about this shit all the time. All. The. Time. The comfort and ease and laziness that accompanies texting should not—and cannot—make its way into your professional work. I’ve had myriad papers submitted without the I capitalized; with ‘u’ instead of ‘you.’ It’s maddening, and screams to me, “I don’t really care enough to think this over.”

If nothing else, the lesson should be not to send professional e-mails via your phone.

But, that being said, it was a jerk move.

 

  • Reid H.

    Agreed, that is a total dick move by the company and/or supervisor. But, like you, I can’t stand when people bring text lingo into the real world. Society has gotten too lazy to spell out the word “you” whenever possible. Really? Mind-blowing to me.

  • Alisa

    Seems harsh to do to a young kid. I gave a kid a job because his resume was so bad, I had to bring it in to help him with it. Sounds like something else going on. As far as lessons, it wasn’t an email, it was a text! Rule of thumb for new grads starting out: Don’t text work bosses/colleagues/etc unless you are texted first. It is a sloppy medium and let the higher ups set whether it was acceptable. And even then, think about what you are writing and whether it should be a text, email, phone call or snail mail. I would say that in this case a handwritten mailed note would have been the best move. I work in a industry a lot of people want to get into. I tell kids who are cold sending resumes to mail them in. If it’s faxed or emailed it ends up in a file. If it is mailed in with my department name on it, it comes directly to me. And I read it!

  • Nathan

    “she [t]old him, citing the sloppiness”

  • Ryan

    Jeff,

    On the 5th line of your blog you wrote, “felt in went well.” Did you mean, “felt it went well.”? Just checking, because I don’t want you to be accused of sloppiness and unprofessionalism.

  • Wooden U. Lykteneau

    The gig would have been in [H]uman [R]esources, his preferred field. He flew to New York for the interview (from his college down south), felt i[t] went well.

    “We don’t think you’re right for this,” she [t]old him, citing the sloppiness.

    Now is that irony or coincidence?

  • Howie

    It’s ironic that in this post about professionalism, quality of work and proof reading, there’s a typo (5th paragraph, “she old him”). Bottom line, mistakes happen. Some are harmless. Something else definitely changes their minds.

    • Patty

      Or “changed” their minds. (Since we’re all in proofreading mode.)

  • Nate

    A harsh move, for sure, but if that’s the company’s prerogative, they can do what they want. This young man will take his talents elsewhere and hopefully will have learned a valuable lesson.
    In my opinion, it’s important to use proper spelling, usage, grammar and punctuation, even in texts and social media. Let’s not devolve into a society where it’s OK to replace “you” with “u” and “be” with “b.” And it’s not just the younger generation who is at fault. Newark Mayor Cory Booker has done a lot of great things for his city, but my opinion of him takes a hit when he tweets stuff like “In 45mins last night we had 3 tragic shootings. We mourn 4 the victims. Nwk will not b deterred from our central mission 2 drive crime down.”
    It’s just one example, but here’s a guy who a lot of people look up to and respect. To me, using that kind of grammar gives off the message that it’s just not that important to write properly.

  • Todd

    It’s pretty harsh, I agree. Apart from the issue of the significant spelling error, maybe the more egregious problem is one that he though it was appropriate to ‘text’ a thank you note. It shows a lack of care and judgement. His dream job, working for a network, and he texted? If he had only slowed down enough to write a hand written note — or an email at the very least — and proof it before he sent it, he never would have had this problem.

  • http://www.eyeonsportsmedia.com/ Chris Byrne

    Text messages should NEVER be used for official business communication. Always send a formal letter, and proofread first!

  • James Rush

    Yes – the company was justified in its decision. No – I wouldn’t have done it in their shoes. It was an intern position, so teach the kid how to be a professional employee instead of a wanker.

    Buried within Alisa’s meandering comment is the one bit of advice worth retaining – let the boss set the standard, and then at least meet, if not exceed it. For more good advice, keep on reading.

    Those who cling to written memos while ALWAYS rejecting text-speak fail to recognize language and its use changes with time and technology (are you still chipping words into stone tablets?). Be prepared for people willing to embrace faster and more efficient communication to race by you. The U.S. Postal Service appreciates your help in slowing its death spiral though.

  • Dot

    He texted a Thank You note? Couldn’t afford the 10 minutes and 40 something cents postage to mail one? Probably lost the gig over that alone…

  • John

    I’d be *really* careful about this. It appears you are getting this story not second hand, but third hand (from a friend associated with the person in question).

    If you haven’t actually interviewed the person in question, and not at least reached out to the employer in question, then what do you really have? Not a news story, you have an anecdote, really nothing more weighty than an urban legend.

    Could this have happened as related to you? Absolutely? Is it more likely to have happened than the son actually flubbing up something else that would make more sense why the internship offer was rescinded? Not a chance.

    It is many times more likely that something else happened that would more reasonably explain everything, either something post-offer… or maybe the offer was never actually made at all (since as written we have no proof of it other than what the son has lead others to believe).

    Some follow up is necessary on this, at least some attempt to get more info from all sides of it. If nothing else, because this blog post is starting to get some national attention, seems like more scrutiny is going to happen.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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