Evaluating Your Experience

Reflecting on your internship can be as valuable as doing it to begin with.

Navigating a Disappointment

If, even after your careful investigation, interviewing, and consideration, you find that your internship isn’t as it was described, there might still be ways to improve the situation. Be aware that it might be a matter of timing; the supervisor could be planning to increase your responsibilities as you learn.

    • Meet with your supervisor.

Re-establish goals and be clear about what you both expect from the internship; try to come to a mutual agreement. Try to articulate what you have found that’s different from what you were expecting. Understand that some general office work is usually part of the job.

    • Gradually ask for more responsibility and actively look for things to do.

Try to clarify your tasks and obligations. Based on the skills you want to develop, you can suggest potential projects that will expose you to developing these skills as well.

  • If there are other interns in the organization, develop relationships with them to serve as a support system.

Whether you stay with an unsatisfactory internship will depend on how far along you are, whether you can address your concerns with your supervisor and make it more acceptable, or whether you want to cut your losses.

The decision to leave an internship must take several variables into account: Was there a contract? Is it worth continuing if you’re almost at the end, if only to keep it on your resume?

Word to the Wise:

No matter your feelings, always maintain a professional attitude and work with your supervisor. If you decide to leave your internship, do so politely and diplomatically and make sure to give the customary two-week notice.

After a Bad Experience

When you have a bad internship experience, it’s best to look at it as a lesson. Ask yourself what the mismatch between you and the organization or internship taught you. You can use that information to help identify what’s important to you. For example, if the lack of structure caused stress and anxiety during your internship, this is probably an opportunity to reflect on the type of structure that works best for you.

Internships, whether positive or negative, are instructive in helping you identify your needs in a work situation. If you leave feeling angry or negative, be sure to work through these feelings before moving on so they don’t undermine your next opportunity.

It’s Over. What’s Next?

Once your internship is over, it’s helpful to evaluate what you got out of it. Analyze your skill development. Think about what you liked and what you’d change; how the people and environment matched your values; how the internship helped to clarify your career goals.

What networking contacts did you make? What did you observe professionals in your field doing? Does it make sense to follow up with an informational interview? What new insights do you have about the field? What might you want to pursue in your next internship or in a full-time job?