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1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:11 pm
by Guest
Received an offer to intern at a USAO over the summer (am a 1L), but am not sure if I should take it because I'm not sure if I'll pass a background check.

Had substance abuse issues in college. Mostly weed, booze and prescription pills, but occasional cocaine use and hallucinogens ~10 times, too. Did some therapy but no rehab. Haven't used any drugs since summer of 2018, and haven't drank since 2016. Assuming I disclose all of this, will I pass the background check? I've read conflicting opinions.

I have no criminal record and no reason to think I'll fail the background check for anything besides drug use.

I'd like to intern at the USAO office, but I also don't want to put all my eggs in that basket if I'll have the offer rescinded in May because I didn't clear the background check, and not have any other summer employment lined up. Advice?

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:09 pm
by anongrad
FWIW -- I knew a kid that received 1L summer USAO offer and then disclosed he used marijuana in college. He lost the offer and had to scramble to get a different 1L position. Sample size of one, but based on that I think it would be worthwhile for you to start considering other options

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:16 pm
by Danger Zone
anongrad wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:09 pm
FWIW -- I knew a kid that received 1L summer USAO offer and then disclosed he used marijuana in college. He lost the offer and had to scramble to get a different 1L position. Sample size of one, but based on that I think it would be worthwhile for you to start considering other options
This also happened to me (different disclosed issue though) and the reason they gave was that they couldn’t guarantee I’d pass the BG check and didn’t want to be scrambling for a new candidate at the last minute since the BG check takes a while to complete. It was BS since I’d previously held a secret security clearance that I passed a BG check for. But as the above poster notes, YMMV.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:50 pm
by Nony
Did the people you interviewed with say anything about drug use/the background check? It might be worth checking with them first - talking to someone in the office you'd intern in isn't the same as answering directly to the background check people, and they can tell you whether they think the drugs would be a dealbreaker. That way you can know more quickly if you need to find something else, and they can give you a heads up on whether it makes more sense to withdraw than to fail the background check.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:10 pm
by Guest
Nony wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 7:50 pm
Did the people you interviewed with say anything about drug use/the background check? It might be worth checking with them first - talking to someone in the office you'd intern in isn't the same as answering directly to the background check people, and they can tell you whether they think the drugs would be a dealbreaker. That way you can know more quickly if you need to find something else, and they can give you a heads up on whether it makes more sense to withdraw than to fail the background check.
OP here. They didn't say anything specifically, but there is a phone number for the office HR rep listed on the offer letter--do you suggest just calling them and letting them know my situation?

I guess I'm worried about getting auto-dinged (or looking bad to the office) over the phone, but maybe that's preferable to waiting a few months to find out by email.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:53 pm
by Nony
Yeah, I totally get not wanting to make it an issue now, but if they auto-ding you for it if you bring it up now, it will be because you'd get dinged for it down the line. So you're probably better off just pulling the band aid off quickly. If it's going to be a problem, they will prefer to know sooner rather than later, so you will at least get credit for being helpful and forthright about it. And of course there's no guarantee you won't have to deal with someone being a jerk about it, but if they are, it's really because they are a jerk - the vast majority of people aren't going to judge you for this.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:37 am
by ggocat
I wouldn't ask the HR person. They have zero incentive to be in your corner. It's easy for them to tell you that you won't pass. You should talk with the person/people who made the decision to hire you. Presumably they like you enough and want to validate their decision to hire you, so they're more likely to be an ally in the process compared to whoever answers the HR phone number.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:32 pm
by Guest
OP here. Thanks for the replies everyone.

I haven't talked to anyone besides my school's career services office about this and they've been pretty unhelpful. I feel uncomfortable emailing or calling the AUSA and asking them for advice. I have to accept/decline the offer on Monday and still don't know what to do. I don't know what advice I'm really looking for; I just feel kind of bad about this all.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:55 pm
by Nony
Call the person who made you the offer (or whoever you interviewed with - I would say an attorney, but in a big office a non-attorney may run the program, so them if so) on Monday and ask them. They will happily give you advice. They would rather know ahead of time if there’s going to be a problem, and they won’t judge you.

I mean if you’ve decided you’d rather just decline than run the risk of it being a problem, you can do that. But I truly think you can just ask them first. I really don’t think you should accept and then just cross your fingers, because chances are decent it will be an issue. And they will probably be annoyed if they go through the background stuff and you fail and you could have said something sooner.

Re: 1L USAO Intern Background Check?

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:17 pm
by Guest
Nony wrote:
Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:55 pm
Call the person who made you the offer (or whoever you interviewed with - I would say an attorney, but in a big office a non-attorney may run the program, so them if so) on Monday and ask them. They will happily give you advice. They would rather know ahead of time if there’s going to be a problem, and they won’t judge you.

I mean if you’ve decided you’d rather just decline than run the risk of it being a problem, you can do that. But I truly think you can just ask them first. I really don’t think you should accept and then just cross your fingers, because chances are decent it will be an issue. And they will probably be annoyed if they go through the background stuff and you fail and you could have said something sooner.
Will do. Thanks.