Every summer, we see tweets from formerly excited interns who write that they’re “bored” and stuck in a “lame” internship.
Throughout your career, and despite the best intentions, you’ll find that bad internships and jobs happen. Maybe the internship’s reality doesn’t match the exciting description, the boss has a “unique” management style, or the mentor just hasn’t prepared effectively.
Whatever the case, you still have a job to do – and you can learn a great deal!
Through these suggestions, find ways to motivate yourself – and make the most out of a less than ideal situation…
Create Your Own Projects
Don’t spend time tweeting about your boring internship. No matter the circumstances, you’ll be perceived as whiny, and you may find yourself labeled “high-maintenance”. If you find you’re left to fend for yourself, or your assignments are ambiguous – create your own path!
At every company there are inefficiencies to be fixed, and improvements to be made. The management team and employees either don’t have time to work on them, or they don’t see what you do with “fresh eyes.” Take time to identify some improvements in company policies or procedure (maybe even a process for intern engagement!).
Outline your observations, detail suggestions for process improvement, and present it to your manager. This will not only help you develop documentation and presentation skills, it will impress your boss and might lead to a full-time hire (or at least a solid recommendation letter).
Focus on Your Future
This internship represents a short period of time in your career development. However, the personal brand you’re building, and the reputation you’re creating, will have a lasting impact on your career.
Put in the effort. Exceed expectations. Reverse mentor. Lead.
Regardless of circumstances – remain positive. Your contributions will be noticed – and so will your attitude.
Expand Your Knowledge
Perhaps the computer at your internship has programs like Photoshop or Illustrator already installed. Or the company may use a CRM like SalesForce or Oracle.
Learn them. These are transferable skills that you can apply throughout your career. You may even convince your busy mentor or boss to spring for an online tutorial to speed along the learning curve. Or, she may assign the company expert to serve as tutor.
Become as proficient as possible – and increase your chance to be hired!
Network! Network! Network!
Use your online time to better yourself, and perhaps the company’s brand in the process. Tweet about every positive aspect of the company product line, and find positive aspects of your personal situation (even when it doesn’t seem like a great situation – there are always positives).
Blog. Build a Facebook page. Seek out potential partners and mentors. Build (or extend) your own network! You never know who might have a tremendous influence on your career.
Just like any other aspect other in life, you’re going to have good and bad experiences at internships. Make the most out of your investment of time and energy! Most important, stay motivated… by focusing on your career goals.
How do you keep yourself motivated in less-than-ideal jobs and internships? Share them with the YouTern community in the comments section below.
About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and is instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Content and Community Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter!
Image courtesy of morethansayings.blogspot.com. Thank you!