I'm currently doing an internship while being a student. The company I'm at has always hired interns from my school and given them good projects, it's really a big opportunity for students.

Another intern, from the same school, lied to leave work two hours early. I only found out when the other intern bragged to me about getting away with it.

If it was just a coworker and coworker situation I would just let it go, but I feel the situation is different because I'm afraid they might not want to hire interns from our school anymore if they find out.

In the past with another company, they had a terrible intern one year and stopped the partnership saying that "The school doesn't produce good students anymore." I really want to avoid that from happening with this company.

I have no intention of being hired at the company, since I still have two years to go in my studies, so there is no "if he's badly seen I will be hired and he won't" thing.

Telling the company was never an option here.

What's the best way, if there is any, for me to convince the company to not associate this intern's behavior with our school if they find out?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 14:42
  • 10
    You're massively overthinking this. Just do a good job on your own internship and ignore what the other intern gets up to.
    – smci
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 8:48

11 Answers 11


Stay out of it.

This issue is between your co-worker and his boss. Ratting him out will not end well. If you do decide to rat him out, it could look like you are just posturing to make yourself look better so they will hire you over him. It could also look like you are going to blow the whistle about everything which management will probably frown upon because this creates a lot of extra (and sometime unnecessary) work.

There is no way for you to tell if these claims are factual at this point and even if they were factual, its not your job to manage the other employees. If you are directly asked about it, tell the truth. Other than that, I would forget about it.

You may both be interns, but you are still co-workers. So saying that if it was just a co-worker you would let it go is exactly what you should do.

It is not your job to manage this person, so let the manager manage it.

  • 16
    Ratting him out was never an option, I was asking what to do if the company finds out by itself to save my school's reputation.
    – sh5164
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 15:23
  • 78
    @sh5164 The only thing you need to do is to be the counter-example. Focus on you and your work.
    – DLS3141
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:49
  • 3
    @sh5164 Why do you care about your school's reputation with this employer? Unless they're paying you for some reputation management service, it's none of your business and doesn't impact you, so... like this answer says, stay out of it. Minding your own business is an important skill that you'd be well-served to gain some experience in. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:08
  • 8
    Payment is not the only possible motivation. Gratitude to good teachers or institution that went beyond what their own payment required might also be a good motive. And so is laying out a better place for those who follow. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 18:52
  • 4
    @SaggingRufus : By that same logic, it is not the job of one nation to control another nation. Yet during the events of World War 2, England's failure to hold Germany accountable at an earlier stage was considered a grave error. A famous quote is often attributed to Churchill: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This isn't a matter of trying to manage other interns: This is a matter of trying to be a "good [person]", by opposing what is wrong (not lazily/cowardly ignoring it). That is part of everybody's "job description" (even the unemployed's!)
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 10:03

I'm going to reposition your responsibility.

You don't gain much by talking to your employer, but if your coworker repeats his deception and keeps telling you about it, tell him not to tell you. Say something like 'buddy, if you're gonna lie to your boss, leave me out of it'.

You need to know how to set boundaries with coworkers, and learning how to deal with people is an important skill in the workplace.

With regards to your school's reputation, most people do not write off an entire school just because of one student. Maybe if it was a highly ranked faculty.

  • 5
    Good idea. And you can also tell him, "That's totally not cool. What a jerk thing to do. That's your business if you want to be like that, but leave me out of it please." No reason to make him think you condone it.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 22:24

This is indeed a difficult situation: on the one hand you're concerned for the reputation of your school, and in turn, how that reputation might affect your chances of being asked to return after the internship has ended.

However, there are some considerations to take into account. First, it is not your responsibility to protect your school's reputation. In doing so you could potentially open yourself up to some issues of your own.

Lets for example assume that you discuss the issue directly with your immediate supervisor and the reason for this person leaving early is serious, or personal? It could convey particular characteristics, namely that you are not trusting, or do not necessarily work well with others etc.

It is also worth noting that this individual may have lied about their reason for leaving work early, but it was accepted by their employer that they could, in fact, leave early. This means that aside from this interns reasons being false, they did not necessarily break any company bylaws, or rules.

There are instances where, as an employee, our reasons for wanting to leave work early or indeed take time off may be of a personal nature. We might deal with this by creating a white lie to cover the real reasons, or by simply explaining that the reason is personal and asking for the time anyway.

In this instance the main problem is that you were made aware of the real reason behind them asking to leave early. Although you take issue with this it still doesn't make it your problem to resolve. If this person continues to slack off, take time here and there, he/she will eventually be found out. Hard work pays off and that's the real fact of working life.

Should this interns behavior deteriorate further, then you could consider talking to your institution rather than the employer, this would perhaps be a more appropriate action to take. It may allow you to control the tone of the conversation as it may be with a professor (teacher, educator) that you are familiar with.

tldr: This is an issue between that individual and the employer. Should the employer find out and hold that against the institution that you're from, then that would, in my opinion, raise some concerns about the employer. However If this intern continues to act, or do things that might reflect poorly on the institution and by extension yourself, then of course it may be worth considering a conversation with someone from your institution.

  • I'll make an edit to precise he told me that he had no real reason to leave but just wanting to be home earlier since the company will never find out
    – sh5164
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 15:20
  • 10
    Maybe it was you he was lying to, and he just didn't want to explain his reason for leaving early. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 15:23
  • 7
    The intern comes from a institution that teaches. These often have code of honour or expectations from the students. So, while as a co-worker, OP is not responsible for the other worker to leave early, as a co-student, they may be (or feel so). Thus, it is a bit more a dilemma than presented here. It might be a discussion for an ombudsperson/program tutor at the school, as the relevance is more for the school and its reputation (which also ultimately reflects on OP) than for the workplace. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:35
  • @LaconicDroid, how many hypothetical lies do you want to dream up to justify someone's lying about lying to someone else before you stop trusting them?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 22:23

This is a coworker/coworker situation, so you should do the same thing you would do in the case - do nothing. This is a situation between the manager and the employee being managed.

If you company has hired many interns from your school, I'm sure that they have had some that didn't quite live up to expectations. I highly doubt that this will cause an issue between the school and the company.

  • 2
    @XavierJ The question says If it was just a coworker and coworker situation I would just let it go. I'm saying that it is. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:15
  • 2
    But the sentence following say it's a situation between the manager and the employee - which contradicts the prior sentence. It can't be both, dude.
    – Xavier J
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:17
  • 2
    @XavierJ The situation between the asker and his fellow intern is a coworker/coworker situation. This is only a concern in a manager/employee situation, which this is not. I'm not sure how to make that more clear. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:18
  • 1
    @ThomasOwens: I agree with Xavier. It is not clear because you use the same reference to mean two different things. "This is a coworker/coworker situation" immediately followed by "This is a situation between the manager" . . . the intent is clear enough maybe, but the language is not. You are using "This situation" to refer to two different things - you need to disambiguate. Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 16:22
  • 1
    'this is a coworker-coworker relationship, ..., this is a problem between... ' better?
    – Vylix
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 17:51

I agree with the previous answers advocating to stay out of it, but would like to add that you may talk to your colleague and just tell him what you told us, that you are concerned about the school's reputation (for whatever reason) and that you think it is not OK to lie for leaving earlier. Also tell him that you don't want to be involved any more for the case that he intends to do this on a regular basis.


You don't have the authority to ascertain the 100% complete facts of the matter; whatever exchange took place between your coworker and the boss, you were not privy to.

You're concerned about your coworker damaging the reputation of your school, but what would it do to the school's reputation if you presented what you think you know to the manager, and discovered that you were mostly wrong in your conclusions? Your school would then gain a reputation for sending someone along who wasn't quite so bright.

The short answer: stay in your lane.


So, the problem at hand is that intern X did something wrong which company Y is unaware. If company Y were to become aware of this, they could end their relationship with your school. You wonder if there is an action you can take when they find out to minimize damage to your school. . . wouldn't it be too late?

The simple fact is, even if you took proactive measures, their action relative to your school will likely be the same. It is highly unlikely your actions would make a difference to your school's reputation. One big reason - it's not your school that's doing the apologizing or explaining, it's you.

So, any action you take will reflect mostly upon you, not your school. If you are seriously concerned about your school's reputation, then you need to take up that concern with the party most able to manage and make changes to that rep - namely, your school itself.

At best, if you really believe your actions will transfer rep to your school, the best thing to do is continue being a good employee and good example of your school's student output. Anything else suggests that you don't believe your school is capable of standing on it's own which is a pretty strong indictment, a school's own student doesn't believe in it.


What's the best way, if there is any, for me to convince the company to not associate this intern's behavior with our school if they find out?

Excel in your role. You don't need to think about this other guy and what he's doing, you need to show them what a student from your school can produce.

If you can recognise lazy and dishonest coworkers as opportunity to adopt more responsibility your skill set will advance far faster than your peers. This won't always be recognised by employers but at this stage in your career focus on accumulating skills, knowledge and accomplishments.


And contacts! What is below the radar of your managers is often visible to your colleagues, an ex colleague dropping your CV to their manager with a good word is a great boon.


If it is truly the case that this employee is ditching work and lying about it (which it may or may not be; we aren't sure if this other intern already talked to his manager and got approval for this), I say it's okay to rat him out.

I'm gonna go against the grain from everybody else giving answers here. All these other people giving answers seem to be cosigning the sentiment that "it ain't my problem, I'm not gonna get involved". Which I find a little disturbing on a moral level. My parents didn't raise me to keep my mouth shut when I see something not right occurring. Just standing by as someone does something wrong and doing absolutely nothing to stop it is complicity as far as I'm concerned. And it's not even like this would require tremendous sacrifice or come at great cost to you to rat him out.

If another coworker is deliberately (and maybe even maliciously, as you can infer from the fact that this intern bragged about it to you) committing some action that hurts the company, I say it's your moral obligation to be proactive in trying to bring it to light.

Imagine trying to justify keeping quiet if some coworker was embezzling from the company for instance.

  • "It is not your job to prevent theft, so let internal affairs manage it."
  • "Does it impact you or your work? If not I would leave this alone. Thieves almost always get busted on their own."
  • "First, it is not your responsibility to protect your company's money."

Sounds ridiculous, right?

  • +1. Comments show concern about trying to "posture" to compete. Easy answer to manager: "I'm taking a stance against dishonesty, by trying to make sure a situation is known. How you handle it is up to you." If your co-worker's unhappy of "betraying" trust shown during confession, state that you did the only moral thing, which is opposing evil, and if that person doesn't like it, then you may not have enough common values (with this unashamed liar) for such a "friendship" to develop, and you certainly aren't going to let the allure of such a relationship cause you to abandon your morality.
    – TOOGAM
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 7:45

You have good grounds for your suspicions, because your colleague told you he lied to leave work early and got away with it.

If you tell the company and they believe you or the miscreant confesses, your colleague earns a black mark for your school. If you tell the company and they don't believe you or think it's to trivial to report, you earn a black mark for your school.

So, don't tell the company. Tell the school.

This is not a workplace issue, it is an academic issue. If it's the school's reputation you're worried about, give them the best chance to ameliorate any damage, and to take steps to avoid a recurrence.

This is the kind of thing that you don't want to advertise outside your school, but is also the kind of thing that it is in the school's best interests to know.


In addition to SaggingRufus answer telling you to stay out of it there's another point I want to touch.

The other student told you and bragged about the leaving early. The problem with this is that he now made you part of his lie.

So the other thing you want to do is to tell this other student to not tell you anymore about it.

Something like:

Do what you want to do, don't make me part of your little ploys.
Do not tell me again.

Because not knowing about it is better. That keeps you in the clear.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .