I have a friend working as a software development intern. She mentioned to me that a senior developer, who works with her, was remoting into her virtual machine and discreetly watching her code the other day.
She only noticed because she had trouble moving her mouse (her pointer moved when she wasn't moving the mouse). Then when the she encountered an issue in her code, the senior developer immediately messaged her on Slack with suggestions. She thought the timing was suspicious, so she politely asked if he was remoted into the virtual machine and he said yes.
After this, she started to recall that there were several other instances that he provided helpful suggestions right when she encountered issues. She didn't ask about that though since it was in the past and she was unsure.
She feels this behavior is concerning because he seems, from her perspective, to be making small advances towards her, with this latest action being a much larger step compared to previous actions. Other behaviors include:
- Over complimenting her presentations with comments like, "you're so amazing and cute, any developer would rush to help you." (I don't recall the exact wording, but I know 'cute' was in there.)
- Adding her on Facebook and then changing the icon to a blue heart, and then to a red heart. She changed it to a random green icon because she thought a heart is strange.
- Messaging about non-work related items past midnight
She is not too concerned with those minor behaviors, because she fends them off by keeping messages short and work related, not replying after work hours (unless absolutely necessary), sitting away from him meetings, going to other senior developers for help when possible, etc.
But the discreet remoting really bothered her, and she isn't sure what to do because:
- She is only an intern and feels causing friction could hurt chances of a job offer. She likes the company, the position, and the people, just not this specific person.
- The senior developer has lots of connections. Burning bridges could hurt the future career
- Her project is related to the senior developer's work, so they will have to work together for the remainder of her internship which is about half way through.
- She isn't sure if this technically counts as any sort of harassment since he was only providing suggestions by monitoring the virtual machines
- As far as she knows, he has not monitored other interns because no one else in their group of interns mentioned anything. Though she did not explicitly ask, because she doesn't want to start drama.
This is her first internship, so she asked me if her concern, and for lack of a better word, weirded-out feelings were justified. I don't work in the software industry, so I am not sure if that is a standard practice for senior developers helping interns.
So my questions are:
Are her weirded-out, uncomfortable feelings justified?
If so, what advice can I give her for the situation?
If not, what is something she can do to perhaps just avoid this situation all together?