How to Turn a Drab Internship into a Fab Internship Experience


Did you ever have an internship that was just not enjoyable? Maybe it was meaningless tasks, unfriendly co-workers, or unmet expectations that caused you to be unhappy.  Internships are great ways to test a field of study and get experience. Sometimes when searching for an internship, you don’t always know what you are getting yourself into. Unfortunately, some of those new opportunities don’t turn out to be as great as you had hoped.  So, how do we overcome or prevent a bad internship? To find out, The Observer spoke with Brian Rose, professor of communications and media studies and director of the communication internship program, and Jorimel Zaldivar, Career Counselor at Career Services.

Set Goals

First, establish goals you want to achieve and make sure you are making a great impression at work. You can do this by being  aware of the things you are doing at your internship. “’Ask yourself ‘Are there any improvements that I can make with what I am bringing to the table here? Should I come in a little earlier and be the first person that they see in the morning or stay a little later so that you’re the last person they see? Am I a little bit too quiet?’ Always check yourself to see what can I do before you go to your supervisor. That really is step one,” Zaldivar said.

Meet With Your Supervisor

Some students have faced hardships at their internships because they didn’t have a meeting with their supervisor at the start of the internship. This caused a miscommunication to occur between the supervisor and the intern. “Right from the start, that is why I stress the importance of that first meeting, so that everyone knows what that internship is going to be like, what kind of goals your supervisor has for you, what kind of goals you hope the supervisor can at least address, see if they can happen for you so that you have a clear, open idea of what is going to happen,” Rose said. This meeting will keep you and your supervisor on the same page as to what your responsibilities are and what is expected of you.

 Find A Mentor

Try to find a mentor who can help guide you throughout your internship. This mentor “doesn’t have to be your supervisor, it can be someone who has been working there for a while and kind of knows the ropes and truly absorbs the culture of that organization,” Zaldivar said. In addition, they might be able to offer you advice as to how to make the most out of your internship and improve your experience.

Network with co-workers

Bonding with co-workers can make the experience even better. Try to “absorb the everyday culture. If they have professional activities outside of the office,  think of participating in them. Also, its an excellent platform for networking. It’s a good way for you to have an opportunity to learn about the professionals that make up an organization,” Zaldivar said. Try to stay active at your internship and get to know your co-workers. It could help you out in the long run.

Be Honest

If you have done all of the tips listed above and you are still not happy, then it is best to be honest with your supervisor. “It is difficult to when you are involved in bad experiences to be able to go up to a supervisor and just say ‘I am not happy’ but hopefully from that beginning meeting with the supervisor you have established some kind of connection and you feel that you can be listened to in some serious manner,” Rose said. By being honest, hopefully this will lead to a better and more positive experience at your internship.

Hopefully these tips are beneficial to you at your current or future internship. Remember that an internship is usually just a semester, so there is always an end if you are not enjoying it. Also, try to stay positive. “If you feel as though this [internship] is not going right, don’t get too discouraged because there will be other opportunities for you out there,” Zaldivar said.