I am undergraduate computer science student and looking for a job now. I did a 8-month internship in a company last year. I worked very hard. I built two iOS apps, several python scripts, translating software and other contribution. I am sure this is very good compared with other interns.

But my manager gave me a very negative reference. He ignored all my contribution, and was extremely critical to my behavior, saying that i am not professional.

Should I put this experience in my resume? I had another 4-month internship before this one(I had two internship in two companies) and that reference was good. So even remove this bad-reference internship experience, I still have 4-month experience left. But I really don't want to remove it since it takes me 8-months, and job experience is very precious for undergraduates.

I tried to contact my former coworkers for a reference. It seems that they are afraid of the manager and ignore my emails.

1.What should I do? Should I Keep the experience on my resume or remove it?
2.If I keep it and don't provide any contact from the bad-reference company, will my future company still contact they?
3.If remove it, will they still find out that I ever work at the bad-reference company?

This internship appear on my transcript as two semesters. The first semester is pass, but the second one is fail. Will Companies ask for my transcript and look at it carefully?

So, It seems that I have no choice but put this internship on my resume. because companies will ask transcript for new grads and the transcript has the record of my fall internship.
How should I say when they found out the bad internship record on my transcript?
Can I say something like, "In last two months of my internship, I decided not to work there when I graduate. And I fell asleep at work twice." ?

  • I fell asleep twice by accidents when I really run out of stuff to do and some language misunderstanding(I made a small joke, but he thought me complaining). Jan 3, 2014 at 19:22
  • 18
    Falling asleep at work is unprofessional behavior. If you don't have enough to do, ask for more. If they don't give you more, go learn something, write a script that may help your job, or find something productive to do. But don't go to sleep.
    – atk
    Jan 3, 2014 at 19:59
  • Did he give you a bad grade?
    – HLGEM
    Jan 3, 2014 at 21:10
  • 1
    I agree that falling asleep is unprofessional, but I do not agree that it makes him an unprofessional employee (like in "unprofessional" is the most compelling trait you can use to describe him). In my opinion, "he fell asleep twice" (even without commenting on the good) is way more honest than "he is unprofessional". As I see it, his former boss is a jerk. A bad review may close many doors to a junior, which makes it too big a punishment for having crushed into slumber at work twice.
    – busman
    May 7, 2019 at 14:49
  • 2
    If I found one of my interns asleep, they would get a serious talking to about how that is not acceptable behaviour. Also some investigation into why they are asleep. Are they not getting enough sleep at night? Working a second job? Out partying all night and catching up at work? Deliberately slacking off? Unless it's a medical condition, the least I would expect is a serious promise that it will never happen again. If it happens again that intern is definitely looking at some disciplinary action. Letting an intern go into the workplace thinking they can sleep on the job is a disservice. Jan 25, 2022 at 15:51

4 Answers 4


Since this course is on your transcript, I think you are going to have to be prepared to talk about it. We have little to judge new grads on so transacripts are commonly asked for.

Did you get a passing grade? If so, likely you can simply put it on your resume but use specific references from the other internship. Be prepared to talk about what you did and what you learned.

If you know he will talk about how unprofessionally you behaved (and sleeping on the job is a firing offense!) if contacted just for confirmation of your employment without being used as a reference or if you got a poor grade, then you will need to be prepared to address what went wrong and what you learned from your mistakes.

You will need to come up for an answer in case the interviewer asks you why no one from this job is willing to give you a reference. You also need to think about it. Since the manager who would give you a bad reference would not ever know that someone else gave you a decent reference, others are not refusing to give you a reference out of fear but more likely you did a much worse job than you think you did. You need to face this squarely and realize that you will not be successful at work until you make some personal changes. And while the amount of work you did sounds like a lot to you, it could be less than would be required of a regular (non-intern) employee in the same time period (depending on the complexity of the apps of course). You need to think about that too.

  • Thank you. This internship appear on my transcript as two semesters. The first semester is pass, but the second one is fall. Jan 3, 2014 at 22:19
  • Thank you very much. Do you have any suggestion about how to explain? Be honest and confess, or tell the reason briefly? The main reason is that I don't want to work in that company anymore and lost my motivation. Jan 3, 2014 at 22:53
  • 4
    Losing your motivation isn't a good reason to quit doing good work, so if you give that explanation, it will hurt you. If you have to explain the reasons, be honest, but also explain what you've learned and how the unprofessional behavior (sleeping!, losing motivation, not working) will no longer be an issue. It's better if you can avoid details like that, because if they even suspect you'll repeat behaviour like that, they won't bother hiring you. Jan 4, 2014 at 0:03

While I'm never a fan of not disclosing personal negatives, it is very doubtful that your internship manager would risk a potential lawsuit by providing anything other than a neutral review about you and your performance. It's actually surprising that he would have given you a very negative performance review rather than simply ending your internship for falling asleep on the job (especially TWICE).

Unless you are in a particularly small industry or a close-knit segment of an industry, I would simply avoid using that particular internship on your resume. While that might mean that you have a gap on your resume, most people do have gaps of varying sizes for varying reasons. If anyone does ask about, tell them that it a clash of personalties (which is always) truthful and leave it at that.

Obviously going forward, it should be abundantly clear to you that intentionally falling asleep at work is unacceptable. If you feel this sleepy at work in the future, simply state that you aren't feeling well and ask to go home.

Having said that, if you are indeed talented and dependable, then you'll be able to land something after you graduate. There is a dearth of talented and dependable people, so only the "heavy hitters" can be exceptionally selective about whom they hire. You shouldn't have an issue gaining employment.

  • For an internship as part of your graduation requirements, managers are supposed to give reviews - even if they are negative. Either way, the failure is part of the OP's transcript so he can't just ignore it.
    – NotMe
    Jul 22, 2015 at 21:20

How prepared are you to explain your experience and what happened in the 8 month internship? That's what I'd consider to be the important point in this question. In future interviews there may be people that know your co-workers from that position and so it may be that things could get asked as if you put it on the resume then you may get asked about it.

Something else to consider is the disparity between how you see your work and how your manager viewed your work. Were you really professional? Did you really do a lot of work or was it just a lot to you? Be careful of how arrogant you may seem if you paint the picture here that you did a lot of work and got no respect which is how that comes across.

If you keep it, there might be contact as some people may know your former co-workers. For example, if you list company X and apply at company Y, the hiring manager at Y may know people at X that you worked and thus could find out what you did and didn't do. There may be the request of a reference from that position in which case you'd have to give someone's contact and depending on the policy of the company this can go either way. Some companies I've worked had a policy of merely verifying dates and not providing more detail and others would almost give a whole story of what it was like to work with me. There is the potential for nothing to be asked and I don't have the psychic powers to say which scenario will happen with each future application you submit.

If you remove it, it may still be found out as your former co-workers may tell others about you. However, I'd say the odds of being found out are rather low and unless you did some incredibly bad stuff you should be fine.

For new grads, transcripts may be used as part of how someone applies for jobs. When I was in university, I had a co-op placement for a couple of months that didn't work out yet it didn't appear on my transcript as I transferred into a regular program. Thus, I have hid some of my experience at times when I didn't consider it to be worthwhile for the jobs I was applying.

As much as the transcript shows a fail, the key is what did you learn from this situation. Do you have a better idea of what kind of manager you want to have? Did you learn about behaviors in the workplace? This is the more important point than just a fail. The falling asleep is something I wouldn't mention unless you want things to be more awkward in an interview. I've had issues with sleeping at work though I have sleep apnea where my therapies at home aren't 100% effective so I do have to let employers know this may happen yet I tend to leave this until the offer stage as it isn't really useful until that point where the company is giving me an offer. While it may look like a bad mark, this is why I started my answer with explaining what you learned in that experience as that may mean a lot to an employer.

  • Thank you. I understand what you say. But can you answer my question 2 and 3, that is what i concern. Jan 3, 2014 at 19:40
  • Thank you. but will company ask my school grade script? The grade script shows the record of my internship. Jan 3, 2014 at 20:05
  • 1
    A potential employer will very likely ask for your transcripts. People usually do for new grads.
    – HLGEM
    Jan 3, 2014 at 21:04
  • @HGLEM Is asking for someones transcripts when hiring a new grad junior position a US thing? When I hit the job-market in Europe in 1999 they only asked me for possible past references from internships were you could simply omit one if it wasn't that shiny..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jan 25, 2022 at 16:20

OP, you are in a pickle, where your reputation has been damaged.

You have the following options:

  1. Get some more relevant work experience with good references. After a while, the internship will become less relevant once you have proven yourself elseware. Many organisations only care about your last 2 work experiences.

This may mean working for cheap freelancing or joining an org with more relaxed hiring requirements (see point 4).

...The fortunate thing for you is that you are a software developer meaning that it is a lot easier to freelance than in other professions and build your experience that way.

  1. If asked about this particular role, let your future employer know, but I wouldn't go out of my way to bring attention to it.

  2. treat this as a learning experience on how to behave professionally in the work place. Also, use web sites such as Glassdoor to get an idea of company culture before joining. Not all orgs are as strict as the one you've joined, and will be willing to overlook this as long as your overall performance has been good.

  3. Find a company to join that is not interested in grade transcripts, there are many companies that do not care and are more interested in seeing a certificate with the overall grade. Which in my opinion is much more relevant and a better way to do things.

  • Hopefully OP isn't still in a pickle - this was over five years ago :) May 7, 2019 at 10:43
  • haha, just noticed
    – bobo2000
    May 7, 2019 at 10:45

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