Internship Disappointing? Suck It Up!

Editor’s Note: At YouTern,  we present a wide range of resources and career industry experts – even if their opinion differs from ours – so you can make the most educated, informed career decisions. In this post, we provide a “counter-point” by YouTern contributor Allison Cheston to our “I Want You to Quit Your Internship!”.

So the internship of your dreams has turned out to be nightmarish—and you are counting the minutes until you can jump ship.

Jealous of your friends working for enlightened bosses who are mentoring them while you spend your evenings lamenting your plight and wondering what went wrong. Is it time to quit?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before making any rash decisions:

Have You Been Proactive About Your Responsibilities?

First of all, an internship is often what you make it. If those in charge are too harried (or too bored) to come up with interesting projects for you, why not suggest some? And if it’s not a priority for the organization, you can always offer to work late on your pet project, after you’ve taken care of whatever mundane chores they’ve asked you to complete.

Is the Internship in Your Field of Interest?

If so, I suggest you stick it out. Even if you’re finding the work boring and can’t find opportunities to add interesting projects to your workload, the question you may want to ask yourself is: Can I package the experience for future employers? If the organization is well-known in your field, the fact that you’ve worked there can be monumentally helpful to your career. Weigh how much you can spin the internship on your resume and in interviews—in some cases it may not matter at all what the internship consists of, or your exact role. Just the fact that you’ve worked for an “it” organization is what may count.

What Will You Have Learned By Quitting?

Chances are, when you’ve had some distance from this experience and you’ve left on less than ideal terms, you will feel some regret about having taken the easy way out. If you stay, I can almost guarantee you will learn something about yourself—and become more resilient in the process.

Before quitting, be certain that you’re not burning bridges by leaving early, either with a key player in the organization (who may have numerous contacts in your field of interest), or with someone who helped you secure the internship in the first place.

Try to examine every angle before making the decision to leave—it’s almost always better to suck it up and stay than to leave the impression that you’re not serious or, maybe even worse, be labeled as “entitled” or “unemployable”.

About the Author: Allison Cheston is a New York City-based career advisor who works with mid-career executives and young adults to help them identify their unique value in the marketplace and explore alternative careers. Allison is the author of an upcoming book In the Driver’s Seat: Work-Life Navigation Skills for Young Adults, to help young adults from late high school through college develop strengths and interests and match them to internships, coursework and, ultimately, the right job.

Cheston blogs frequently on career issues for young adults at her own blog, In the Driver’s Seat as well as at The Examiner. She also blogs for mid-career professionals at Twitter. You can reach Allison on Twitter.

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