Internship Problems? 10 Steps To Handling A Negative Experience

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Just because an internship seemed like the perfect fit when you applied, doesn’t mean it will turn out the way you anticipated. Occasionally, interns will get stuck in a negative internship experience. You might end up feeling undervalued, unappreciated, or overworked.

Whatever the case may be, here are 10 steps to cope with a negative internship experience:

1. Identify the problems. Make a list of all of the problems you’re facing in your internship. Be as specific as you can. Use the list to determine where to go from here. What problems can you fix? Communication and boredom are the roots of many negative work experiences, but they’re easily fixable. Identifying your problems is the first step to finding a solution.

2. Speak to your supervisor. If the problem is not something you can fix yourself, set up a meeting with your supervisor. Let them know how you’re feeling and what changes you think will help. Whether it’s your workload, responsibilities, flexibility, communication, or something else, they can probably help.

3. Find a mentor. If you’re not clicking with your direct supervisor, find another person in the organization to be an additional mentor. Maybe it’s someone with whom you identify better, or maybe it’s someone in a role you’d like to have one day. However you find them, having a mentor might improve the quality of your internship.

4. Make new friends. One problem many interns have is they don’t befriend their coworkers. Whether it’s other interns or full-time employees, finding friends in the workplace can greatly improve your mood. Throughout the work day, socialize with coworkers when you can. Make sure you attend events outside of work, too. The more allies you make, the better the experience will be.

5. Avoid making enemies. The best way to make your internship a negative experience is to make enemies of your coworkers. To make sure this doesn’t happen, skip the office gossip and drama. Not only will you come off as the mature intern, but also you’ll feel better when you’re on good terms with your coworkers.

6. Ask for more work. Is the problem with your internship simply boredom? That’s an easy fix. Say so and ask for more things to do. Your supervisor probably didn’t even realize how you felt. Speak up when you’ve completed your assignments. Once you become consistently busy, you’ll no longer have time to be bored.

7. Suggest a side project. Do you have an idea to make things more productive or solve an unanswered problem? Again, speak up! Show off your skills by volunteering your down time for  a new project. Taking an idea from problem to solution will impress your current supervisor, as well as future employers. Get creative and be impressive.

8. Remember the time frame. An internship takes up a relatively small portion of your life, probably only a few months. Keep the time in mind as you fight your way through a negative experience. You can learn just as much from a negative experience as you can from a positive one. For the time being, take it one day at a time and count down until the end.

9. Don’t focus on it. Your life should not be consumed by your internship. When you leave the office, leave your problems there, too. Go home and do something you love. Forget about the reasons you’re miserable at work and just relax.

10. Picture the positive. Wrap it up with the opposite of the first step. Identify the positive things about your internship. You might have gotten really close with your coworkers or found the perfect mentor. What have you learned? It might not be as bad as it seems.

How would you recommend handling a negative internship experience?

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