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I'm looking to intern at a different place this year, and the new place wants to contact my past internship to ask about my performance. Should I email my past supervisor and let them know that they might be contacted? I'm a bit worried about getting a bad reference because they might want me back this year although I was noncommittal last year about coming back.

I think it's better to warn them but I don't know how to properly email them as I'm basically saying 'hey I'm not coming back so please say good things about me to the place I actually want to work at'.

  • If they liked you enough to want you back then I don't think they would say bad things because you did not come back. – paparazzo Dec 21 '14 at 18:54
  • It never hurts to give potential references a heads-up that they might be contacted. It's more polite and respectful to them, and it also increases the chances of you getting a good reference out of them (because they have time to prepare themselves for the call). – starsplusplus Dec 21 '14 at 19:09
  • It won't look good for you if they call, they catch your supervisor on the wrong foot, they put him on the spot and he has trouble placing you and he can't quite place you in his memory or remember what you did. – Vietnhi Phuvan Dec 21 '14 at 19:21
  • Because of fear of litigation; companies in the US will almost never give a bad recommendation. You could deliberately delete the offsite backups and burn the server room to the ground; and (ignoring the fact that you'd be in jail for the next 20 years) your ex employer would most likely respond: "S/he worked for us from Start Date to End Date." and say nothing more. You should still give your former boss a heads up for the reasons pointed out by others. – Dan Neely Dec 21 '14 at 22:03
  • You don't warn earlier 'employers' that they can be contacted, you ask them if they want to be a reference. Your question seems to imply the latter, but your question text tasks only about 'warning'. Consider editing your question. – Jan Doggen Dec 21 '14 at 22:41
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You are talking about an internship, not permanent employment. Send a note to your contact at last year's internship telling them that you learned a lot and really enjoyed the experience. You are ready to give another opportunity a try, and would he/she mind serving as a reference. Just be honest and don't over think it.

As noted in the comments, no company is going to give your a 'bad reference' in order to keep you - that just doesn't happen for the reasons noted above.

And I agree with the commenter who stated 'You don't 'warn'... you ASK.'

Building and maintaining positive relationships with everyone you come into contact with in your career are two of the most important things you can do. Who knows, you might go back to that first company someday, or the person you know there now may be in a different position somewhere else that can help you...or vice versa.

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