Internships have become a necessary part of the college experience. In fact, according to NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 65% of college graduates in 2015 had an internship while in school.This percentage will definitely keep rising, especially given that employers are looking for more and more experience from entry-level employees.
But while internships are great, there are definitely problems that can arise. One common one? Not all internships are what they seem to be. Here are five steps you can take if your internship isn’t what you expected.
1. Assess the Situation
As soon as you realize that your internship is not going in the right direction, take a step back and think about what is happening. Why did you expect it to be different? Were you promised a lot more than you are being given? Are you not getting the hourly pay or stipend that was listed on the job posting? Did you think you were going to get hands-on public relations experience, but you actually spend most of your time cleaning and taking out the garbage?
Make a list of what you feel is wrong. Writing it on paper will help you come to your senses, so jot down an old-fashioned list. You might realize that some of those “problems” aren’t as bad as you originally thought, or maybe there really is something suspicious going on here.
2. Ask Around to Other Interns
If there are other interns in your office or building, you should definitely reach out to them or observe what they’re up to. If they seem to be having the same experience as you, maybe you can go through the rest of these steps together.
However, if they are having a positive experience, you should find out what they are doing differently. Maybe they are taking more initiative or being more social. If you change those little things while you’re on the job, there is a good chance that your experience might change for the better. Your fellow interns can help make your internship better, and now you might have a new friend too!
3. Make the Most Out of Your Time
Everyone hates hearing this, but maybe it’s you that needs to change, not the internship. If you act like you’re not happy to be there, then you will probably never be truly happy. Try your best to be motivated, and act like you want this job. Staying on top of your assignments is so important, but interns are often left with extra time. Ask for extra work (most supervisors would love to have more help!), and request time to take employees to coffee to learn more about them, their roles, and their career paths.
4. Talk to Your Supervisor
If you feel that you are not learning the skills that you had hoped, your supervisor might be able help. While you might not want to flat-out say that you aren’t happy with your internship, talk to him or her about what you were expecting to learn. Your boss might be able to find responsibilities that are in line with what you’re looking for.
If you have any other questions or concerns, make sure to bring them up! If your boss isn’t open to allowing you to do other work, at least you will realize what kind of internship you want (and don’t want).
5. Network With Employees
Networking is a huge part of getting new jobs and opportunities. At every internship you get, make sure to stop in and say hello to all of the employees. Since they have actual positions at the company, find out how they got there. They might even have suggestions for you. Even if your experience at the internship is not the greatest, at least you will leave knowing that you made as many connections as possible.
While it is definitely unfortunate if your internship is not what you expected, following these five steps will help you make the most of it.
Want to find out more about National Intern Day and how you can win a cash prize? Head over to nationalinternday.com to get the scoop.