Making the Most of a Challenging Internship Experience

Even with the best-laid plans, you may find yourself in a challenging internship.  The reasons for this can vary – from being given tasks that are dull and routine to having a difficult supervisor.  

To try and help prevent this possibility even before you apply for an internship, be sure to do your research on the industry, company and internship duties.  Look for the best match, and ask yourself; “Why this company? Why this opportunity?”

However, even with preparation, your internship experience may not end up being what you expected. But all is not lost; you can still gain insight and make the situation work for you.

5 Ways To Make It Work

Get feedback. If possible, consider checking in with your supervisor to ask for constructive feedback on your performance. Check in to see how the projects you are collaborating on are doing, ask follow up questions, and look for opportunities for growth. Be sure to take some time to reflect on how you feel you are reaching your goals.

Evaluate your experience.  Even if your experience is negative, you can note what you might do differently next time. Use this insightful information to help you with making future internship decisions and to help you consider what questions to ask next time.

Stay professional.  Try not to burn any bridges, even if you don’t plan to stay or return. Overall, it is best to remain positive and not to talk about your supervisor or colleagues in any negative way. You don’t know who it might get back to and how it might impact a future opportunity.

Keep it in perspective. Sooner or later, everyone has a difficult internship, volunteer situation, or job. It is part of a process of growing and learning. Remember that a difficult internship can help you develop your skills in coping with stress and speaking up for yourself. Also, reflecting on your experience can help remind you what drew you to the internship in the first place.

Look at the big picture. This experience may be beneficial for you in the long term, even if it is challenging now. Look for ways to enhance your experience, learn a new skill, or meet a new colleague. Ask yourself if there are any additional projects you might contribute to.

In the end, a challenging internship is just a brief time in your entire employment history. Keep a positive frame of mind, and you might just turn it into a learning opportunity that works for you.

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