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A few years ago, I had an internship at a software company. For the first part of the internship, my performance was good, and I was making positive progress. At around the second half, there was a change in management.

At around the same time, I developed two problems that caused my performance to nosedive. The first problem I had was that I developed non-serious (diet-related) health problems that caused me to have a kind of 'brain fog', along with constant stomach problems -- it took me a while to recover from this. The second problem I had caused my working environment to fail in an undeterministic way -- it flummoxed almost everyone I asked in my team, including my mentor. The seniors I consulted about this were good at helping me track down the exact flaws, but were too busy to help to the extent that was needed at the time. I feel that my poor performance, along with bad communication (on my part) with my manager, caused my manager to become frustrated with me, and for that reason at the end of the period I was not rehired as a proper member of staff.

Afterwards, I took time off from work for a long period to improve my health, and to grow myself as a person through self-directed study. I have also learned a lot from stalking workplace SE. I strongly feel that these problems would not occur to me again, and that even if they were to occur, that I would be in a much better position to communicate about and deal with them professionally.

I am now considering applying to the same place. I have been told that it is likely they will not pay too much attention to my resume, but rather the people in the company I worked under. Most or all of the other people I worked with have since moved on.

How best can I communicate about my prior difficulties and my self improvement when reapplying, and how should I approach alleviating any concerns that my former manager has regarding my performance?

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I am now considering applying to the same place.

Don't do this.

Plenty of companies take interns, and by applying to one where you're known for poor performance (even if there's legitimate reasons for it) you're putting yourself on the back foot from day 1, even if they accept you (which may be unlikely given your history). Give yourself a fresh start by applying somewhere else, and you have the chance to make an immediate, good, first impression.

To answer the question directly however - if you really want to apply to the same place, you certainly don't mention any prior issues at all in your application. However, you prepare for this question to come up in interview, and make sure you have a really solid, concise answer to convince them that you've put these problems behind you and that they won't occur again.

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  • "even if they accept you (which may be unlikely given your history)" - Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. For the majority of the months I was at the internship, I was treated and dealt with things like my junior peers, and my performance was good. It was only really in the last four months that things went downhill... Another suggestion I recieved (I wasn't sure how to mention it in the question) was to mention it in the cover letter, or to send a personal letter to the manager in question. What do you think about those options? – Alexandria Feb 26 '19 at 23:15
  • @Alexandria People have a habit of remembering the bad rather than the good - I've known otherwise good employees who are unfortunately remembered for "incidents" lasting a lot less than 4 months. I still wouldn't recommend mentioning it anywhere in your application though - cover letter, form, or otherwise. If they're concerned with it, and your application gets that far, let them be the ones to bring it up. – berry120 Feb 27 '19 at 8:46
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It was a few years ago. Don't fret it.

Apply for it and it will most likely be brought up at your interview if you are asked for an interview.

At this point it is a great point to talk about your weakness if asked and explain what you have done to improve and turn that around.

Worst case scenario, they won't call you or hire you, so don't rely on this position but instead keep looking for other opportunities.

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