My Internship Manager Lied to Keep Me From Getting a Job Offer and Here's What I Did

06/10/2017 11:13 am ET
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What's the worst experience you've had in your work field? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Consultant (tech hiring/interviewing), Author (Cracking the * Interview), Coder, on Quora:

Six weeks into my Microsoft internship, I sat down for my checkpoint review discussion with my "mentor" and my "manager." This was probably only my second time meeting with my "manager", since my mentor was really acting as my manager (this was typical for Microsoft internships).

Checkpoint Review

My mentor began reading the evaluation, and all seemed great. All positive stuff. Yay!

Then my manager takes over for the final parts, where he explains that he's given me a no hire recommendation--on the sole grounds that I don't check in my code often enough. I explained that I hadn't finished the feature yet; should I really be checking in something that's incomplete? (Apparently, yes.)

This seemed like a ridiculous reason for a no-hire. Why hadn't they just told me earlier? It wasn't like I was refusing to check in my code. I just didn't realize I should be.

I went back to my office and checked in my code immediately.

HR Meeting

Follow-up meeting with HR: I explain that I'm alarmed that my mentor/manager would no-hire me for this, rather than just telling me to correct the issue in the beginning.

Don't worry about it, they say. Fix the issue, and proactively solicit feedback from your mentor, just in case there's anything else lurking.

Final Review

I've been really stressed since my checkpoint review. I've worked extra hard and I have been regularly asking my mentor feedback (and of course checking in my code frequently). All is looking good. But, after my last review, I just don't know what will happen.

My mentor starts off reading it the evaluation. He's liked my code, progress, etc. All good stuff.

Again, my manager takes over for the final recommendation. Again, no hire. Again, I'm totally caught off guard.

He has three reasons stated:

  1. I don't self-advocate enough (basically, I'm not boastful enough of my own accomplishments).
  2. Some major bugs in my code.
  3. I've "missed several key deadlines that has resulted in the team having to pick up the slack."

#1 seems like a weird reason for a no-hire, but it's too subjective to argue with. I have no idea what he's talking about with #2 or #3. What major bugs? And deadlines? I never saw any deadlines. All I know was my summer goals had only one feature listed, and I was onto the second or third now. Was I behind some schedule I never saw?

He explains that he would be fine with me working elsewhere at Microsoft, just not his team (which, fyi, is kind of messed up). No hire.

After the Meeting

My mentor stops by my office and tells me that, for what it's worth, he did not agree with the conclusion of that meeting or the negative feedback given. All that negative stuff, the no-hire--this all came from my manager, but he (my mentor) is powerless to overrule the manager (who is his manager as well).

Now, I realize the weird disconnect in my checkpoint review. The positive stuff all came from my mentor. The negative feedback and no-hires came from my manager, who had essentially zero involvement with me.

What the...

Another developer (who I'd worked with very closely) overhears the conversation, and asks me what's going on. I show her the evaluation. She's very confused as well. She can't think of what these "major bugs" are. And the deadlines? I was ahead of schedule and work had been transferred from her plate to mine.

So, yeah. My manager, who had essentially no interaction with me, was lying on my review to prevent me from being hired--and overruling people who actually worked with me.

I appealed the decision to my manager's manager, who changed it to a "hire." I really, really didn't want to go back to that team, but a "no hire" would pose an issue with future Microsoft interviews.

A few years later, I bumped into some people on my old team. Apparently this manager had a string of issues with female developers--unfairly disparaging their work, taking credit for things they've done, and so on.

I can't say for sure why he was so against me (I have my obvious guesses), but whatever it was, it was enough to make him lie.

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