Surviving a Bad Internship Experience

Have you ever been put into an experience where you just know something isn’t going to work out for you? I was recently put into this situation.

I was given an opportunity that I thought was going to be a really great experience for me and get me a lot of public relations and marketing experience.

Boy, was I wrong.

Sometimes this can happen with internships. Some internship opportunities just aren’t as pretty as the package makes them out to be.

If something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to speak UP AND SAY SOMETHING!


Source: Hack Library School

Source: Hack Library School

How do you make the most out of a sticky situation, though?

  • Define your expectations. If you’re going into an internship, know what you want to get out of the experience. You need to know what you want and you need to let your supervisor what you want.
  • Let your supervisor know your concerns. If things aren’t going right, let your supervisor know. If you aren’t being challenged, ask for more work. If they’re throwing too much at you, let them know you’re feeling overwhelmed. Make sure they know how you’re feeling so it doesn’t affect your work or how they value you.
  • You shouldn’t have to do “busy work” or non-relevant activities. Are you fetching coffee? Filing old invoices? You’re a PR intern, right? You shouldn’t be doing those things unless there is absolutely nothing for you to do – which is highly unlikely. Don’t let this continue, talk to someone.
  • If you’re feeling uncomfortable, speak up. Does your supervisor or another employee make you feel uncomfortable? Speak to someone about this. If there is an HR department, talk to them. If you can talk to your supervisor, talk to them. You shouldn’t be uncomfortable as an intern and you shouldn’t be forced to work with someone who makes you feel that way.
  • If you have to quit, then quit. My experience was a mix of all of these problems and I had to step back and evaluate. I wasn’t getting relevant experience, I was forced to do busy work and I felt very uncomfortable. Leaving was the best option for me. If you’re in a position where that is your only option, make sure you do it right. Don’t quit over an email. Do not quit and say nothing. Let the supervisor know how much you value the time they took to train you. Don’t do anything that will leave a sour taste.
Emily Vontom

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