From Lucy Kellaway’s "The Problem" column in the FT yesterday:
I am a journalist in a big media group. I have just had a friendly message from the chairman asking if his nephew can do a week’s work experience with me. I’m not keen, because it is extra work having a teenager around and I don’t particularly want him reporting back on how I am doing. However, our organisation lurches from one crisis to another and we all live in constant fear of redundancy. Surely no one fires someone who has just done their nephew a good turn? Journalist, male, 36
Lucy’s answer starts like this:
Your first big mistake was to think your chairman was asking you a question. Actually, he was telling you, in the most charming way, to take his nephew. Your problem now is how to keep the boy amused for a week without falling into despair yourself.
Don’t do it! My experience was this: At my former employer, the company president sent his son to be a summer intern and he sat right outside my office. He seemed harmless enough in the beginning, but was clearly reporting back to headquarters on the state of the entire business. And he was naming names. All this came to light in a small way during the following autumn and winter, and then in a big way when the division was sold. The son had his small hand in moving diversified media company to a pure newspaper play. And once a spy, always a spy.