These are the 9 worst mistakes ever made by interns

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Friday 12 June 2015 15:00

This week we learned that a 15 year old managed to discover a planet while on his work experience placement, which made everyone else take a long hard look at their career achievements thus far.

But don't despair: For every teenage physicist genius there are a million interns who manage to screw up.

Whether it’s getting the coffee order wrong, replying to the wrong email or even burning the building down, these tales of internship woe, culled from the depths of internet forums, will console you that thing could definitely be worse. And hey, at least you get paid now.

1. Confirming that a bunch of made up racist names are accurate to a news channel

An intern at the National Transportation Safety Board landed in hot water after the Asiana plane crash at San Francisco airport in 2013. Local news station KTVU ludicrously reported that the names of the pilots involved were “Sum Ting Wong”, “Wi Tu Lo”, “Ho Lee Fuk”, and “Bang Ding Ow.”

An intern confirmed the fake names when the channel called up NTSB to check. D’oh.

2. Getting caught stealing office supplies (that includes millions of dollars’ worth of moon rocks)

In one of those truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories, in 2003 interns at NASA stole $21 million in lunar samples that had been collected over three decades.It was quite the heist, according to Gizmodo, and the ringleader was later sentenced to eight years’ jailtime.

3. Telling a girl you need to see her 'vag'

To be fair, this one is from a medical student, but the socially oblivious and nervous student was examining a teenager with belly pain. After taking a quick history he told the girl - while her dad was in the room - "Drop 'em, I've gotta check out your vag." Apparently he is now a doctor.

4. Burning down the office

A user on Quora claims that in his first coding internship he burned down the office because of a cabling mistake. While the building survived the fire displaced more than 100 workers and destroyed lots of files.

5. Hitting reply all

Another user on Quora said that the accountancy firm he interned at also had four other university-aged interns. When they weren’t assigned anything, they were required to email the entire department with an "available for work" email so people would know they were free.

When he sent his availability email, another intern of his accidentally hit "reply all" with three simple words: Suck my d--k.

It was magical. Everyone got the email at the same time and you could see heads start to come up over cube walls one by one like prairie dogs. Managers slowly stepped out of their offices and everyone just stared at each other in shock.

They now offer "reply all" training as part of intern orientation.

6. Losing $1 million overnight

One tech intern in San Francisco refactored just one line of code, accidently switching the definitions of “on” and “off”, before leaving the office for the night. It affected billions of ad impressions for the websites the company looked after. Amazingly, he kept his job.

7. Forgetting to check your work

In a story that made headlines in France in 2013, an ad for a child minding service for people working at the Montreuz jazz festival featured a picture of Gregory Villemin, a four-year-old boy who was murdered in 1984 in a case that was never solved. The picture was selected - you guessed it - by an intern.

8. Messing up bulk emails

One intern at a tech company thought she’d save time with a template to mass-email potential clients. What she sent to thousands of people read:

We, Anybody, would like to make the following offer to you -

Blah blah blah

Sincerely, Anybody

9. Thinking there’s such a thing as bring-your-pet-to-work day.

Michael Fischer, who works in livestock, said he had one intern who kept rats and thought it would be fun to bring it into the office one day. She placed the rat on a secretary’s shoulder who promptly lost it. When he got asked by new employer for a reference whether he had ever had any unprofessional experiences with her all he could think about was the rat story.

Do you have an internship fail that could make our list? Let us know in the comments.

More: This work experience kid discovered a new planet. What have you done at work today?