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I'm a software engineering co-op that's finishing my term in the next few days. I've worked solo on a decently sized project that seems to have garnered some interest from my co-workers. I really like this team and my manager. I'm leaving because I have to go back to school, no bad blood and a few hints at a possible full time position.

About 2 months ago, my replacement co-op was hired, and we worked together so I could catch him up to speed. For context, he's from a nearby University and has had 2-3 times as much schooling as me (4 years as CS versus my 1.5 years as CE).

I've served as a shield from the rest of the team, taking most of his questions, but when I'm gone, he'll be going to the rest of them. They all have real work to do, and can't spend hours a day explaining what inheritance, XML, or character escaping is. I don't want to just dump the new guy on them, but I'm not sure what I can do.

Significant language barriers exist between him and me, and a lot of the questions come from my comments and documentation not translating well into his own language (he's not fluent in English). But even accounting for those barriers, he still has a long way to go before he can be useful. Shotgun/voodoo programming seems to be his thing, etc.

My manager hired this co-op over someone I had recommended, and was the 10th pick or so.

My question:
My exit interview is coming up with my manager. Should I bring up my concerns about my replacement co-op? And if so, how?

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You should keep your view of this person to yourself, unless you are asked to give your opionion of this person, and even then I would find the most political correct way of saying it. In other words let them find out, it is no longer your concern, and to be frank the likely would not take your option all that serious anyways ( after all you are only a student also ). –  Ramhound Aug 2 '12 at 15:49
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Sometimes interns work out, sometimes they don't. That's part of the deal with interns. The company/project will not be put into jeopardy because a new intern hasn't gotten up to speed yet in 2 months. If the new guy doesn't work out, so what? –  Angelo Aug 2 '12 at 16:58
    
@Ramhound - Good point. The whole thing about a co-op is that it's a learning experience. Why deny the guy a chance to learn? –  jdb1a1 Aug 2 '12 at 21:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

If your goal is to be helpful to the company, I would suggest that the manager assign the new Co-Op a new mentor. I would let him know that he is coming along but still has lots of questions. This may feel like throwing one of your co-workers under the bus but it could help them in the end. I would rather see the mess being made and try and do something than wait till the mess is there and have to fix it. You mentioned in comments that this is a favorite pick of your manager. So putting a good spin on it should be most helpful all around.

If you just want to give the manager a heads up... it is too late. You are leaving, and if you had complaints about this person the time to voice them was when the problems occured.

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I agree that speaking up sooner would have been good. I suffer from optimism though, and kept assuming that the new co-op was just coming up to speed, and maybe next week he'll be better. I like the idea of a new mentor. Coming off as trying to help the new co-op (which I would like to do) seems like a good route to take. –  ExitProcess Aug 2 '12 at 16:03
    
@ExitProcess: I expect you will find that your initial assessment of another's ability will almost always be correct. –  kevin cline Aug 2 '12 at 17:13

Unless s/he asks your opinion about the new co-op, let it go and don't say anything. This is because:

  • Negativity in exit interviews can come across as self-serving. If I was your manager, I might be thinking that you are correct, but I might also think that you are seeking to burnish your image before leaving.
  • If he doesn't know what to do and how to do it, what can the manager do? He's already got the replacement lined up. He can't fire somebody because another co-op says that there might be an issue with the quality of work.
  • If this manager is the person who hired the new co-op, then by you introducing your knowledge of that person's incompetence, you also reveal that you know that the boss made a bad decision. Bosses don't like it when co-ops know that they made bad decisions.
  • If the co-op truly isn't up to snuff, it will become apparent immediately. It might be just what the new co-op needs, to get up to speed.
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The manager in question did indeed find this co-op. To further support your first point, he went over someone I had recommended as well. The co-op in question was the 10th pick or so. You're right though - I'm not sure there's much the manager can do even if the co-op is as I say. Scrap the changes at the end of December I guess. –  ExitProcess Aug 2 '12 at 15:39
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@ExitProcess - Sounds like you should keep your opionion of the person to yourself EVEN IF you are asked, if you want to work there full-time, when you graduate that is. –  Ramhound Aug 2 '12 at 15:50
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People do make bad hires. To assume, however, that they don't accept any feedback that may reveal their decision wasn't the best is huge exaggeration. Besides if the manager reacts negatively for such feedback it is a signal for you that you might not want to work in such place for such guy. –  Pawel Brodzinski Aug 2 '12 at 15:55
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@ExitProcess So give him some :) –  Pawel Brodzinski Aug 2 '12 at 16:01
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Is this a fairly entry-level co-op position? do not base it on your personal experience, as it sounds like you took the reins and did quite a bit in your time there. However, going above and beyond aside, is the position itself as advanced as you made it, or was that all your doing? Basically, your boss might know the incoming co-op isn't as good as you. But, if it's normally a lower level position, your boss might be looking to give this other kid much needed experience. remember, a co-op's main goal is always to allowing people to learn in an actual environment. At least at Drexel it is –  acolyte Aug 2 '12 at 16:02

Yes, you should. In an honest and straightforward way. Do remember to keep it as factual as possible, although some of opinions is likely unavoidable.

This is valuable piece of feedback for any reasonable manager. If you bring it as your concern (as in the question) you also show that you care about the org.

A thing you should likely avoid is advising the manager what to do. Unless they ask you that is.

Actually, even if the manager, who hired your co-op, reacts negatively for your honest feedback you still win -- you learn much about the manager and the workplace. In such case, personally, I wouldn't consider working for the org. I don't like working for people who can't admit they made a mistake.

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I agree with the advising bit. As jdb1a1 points out though, it is a considerable bit of egg on my manager's face. I do care about the group, but it seems that their's no graceful way to point it out. –  ExitProcess Aug 2 '12 at 15:45
    
@PawelBrodzinski - This is horrible advice and pretty much a guarantee way of NOT being hired in the future. –  Ramhound Aug 2 '12 at 15:51
    
@ExitProcess It's always hard to do, but sometimes the best course of action is to let people make their own mistakes. –  Tacroy Aug 2 '12 at 16:07
    
I've responded to (& asked) questions that are opportunities for honest feedback. One purpose of an exit interview is to illuminate issues within the workplace that could be addressed and/or fixed in the future. One question I ask (and have been asked) is "What are the qualities & skills we should seek in your replacement?" -- in this situation, I would likely ask "How best can we prepare your replacement for the work you do?" which, since you've worked with him, would allow you discuss what you have already seen (constructively). But if your manager doesn't open the door, don't volunteer. –  jcmeloni Aug 2 '12 at 16:35
    
You are right about this Pawel, I don't agree with Ramhound. Being not honest will get you nowhere in this. –  Christian Waidner Aug 8 '12 at 8:58

Because this coop was hired over your recommendation, I think anything negative you say will be taken as sour grapes over having not chosen your friend. That said, if asked, you could say that you think the new coop is going to find the work very challenging and leave it about there.

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