Today’s workforce practically requires every college student to gain professional experience before landing an entry-level job. And one of the best options for college students to gain that experience: internships.
But what if that internship is less than satisfactory? What if what looked good on paper… isn’t so good in real life?
Although performing almost any internship is better than not doing one at all, and you can learn a lot even during a bad experience, a really bad internship could definitely serve as a set-back in your career development. In those cases, you may decide this internship just isn’t worth the commitment, energy and money you’re investing.
Here are seven signs your internship isn’t going to work out this time:
1. You Don’t Have Any Real Responsibilities
From fetching coffee to making copies, there are hundreds of stories where interns are assigned primarily menial tasks during their experience.
In the case you have an internship where the only work you do is menial tasks that contribute nothing to your learning experience, speak up to your manager. The purpose of an internship is to teach you hands-on skills you can apply to a job after college. If your internship fails to provide you with those fundamentals, take action to make sure you get the experience you deserve.
2. You Don’t Have a Project to Call Your Own
Whether the project is big or small, interns need to have some independence during their internship.
The whole point of an internship is to build your portfolio and have accomplishments to add to your resume. If your boss isn’t giving you the opportunity to work on a solo project, you need to approach him or her for new assignments that challenge your capabilities.
3. You Haven’t Learned a New Skill
The entire purpose of your internship is to gain skills you can’t learn in the classroom. If you’re already a month into your internship and haven’t learned anything new, it might be a sign your internship is a dud.
Interns who are concerned they aren’t learning new skills need to speak up to their managers. (Noticing a trend, here?) During your internship, you are ultimately in control of the experience you gain. You might discover that, by speaking up to your manager, you can gain more experience. However, in the case your manager ignores your request to gain new skills, you might want to reevaluate the value of the experience you’re receiving (aka take your awesomeness elsewhere).
4. You’re Not Treated with Respect
If you’re known as “the intern” around the office, you obviously haven’t been given the respect you deserve as an intern of that organization.
Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you are not an equal in the workplace. You have just as many duties and responsibilities as any other employee, just in a different way. Although you might be paid less or can’t make executive decisions, this doesn’t take away from the fact that you are a hard worker who contributes to the goals of your employer.
If you find your employer is abusing your position or treating you unfairly, you need to go directly to human resources. Although not every state protects their interns, HR can provide you with advice about the action you need to take.
5. No One Is Willing to be Your Mentor
According to the InternMatch 2014 Intern Report, 51 percent of college students want to gain a mentor from their internship.
Employers who fail to provide mentors for their interns are making a huge mistake. As an intern, you need guidance from professionals who can teach you valuable skills you can’t gain in the classroom. In addition, you need a person who can answer your questions and provide real world advice about your career path.
6. You Dread Going to Work Each Day
For almost every internship, there might be a day whn you have a case of the Mondays. However, if you find yourself dreading your internship every single day, it might be a sign something isn’t right.
Although internships are a lot of work and can become exhausting, they shouldn’t cause you to despise your position or dread going to work. Just like any job, there are ups and downs. If you discover the bad days are beginning to outweigh the good days, it might be a sign your internship isn’t worth the sacrifice.
7. Your Feedback Is Unwelcome
Internship programs that ignore feedback from their interns are not conducive to a productive learning environment. One of the most important learning experiences internships offer is the opportunity for interns to share their ideas in the workplace and interact with their coworkers.
As an intern, if you’re unable to share your ideas and opinions, how will you learn how to contribute to discussions in your future job? When you attend meetings or approach your manager with ideas and your opinion is ignored, you need to speak up fast.
If some of these issues have crept into your internship experience, approach your manager and even HR about how to improve your situation. Approach the situation from a positive point of view; rather than just complain, walk in with a solution and an open mind.
Then, if the internship still doesn’t work out, you know you did everything to rectify the situation, and can move on… hopefully, to a much more fulfilling internship experience.
Have you experienced an internship that wasn’t worth your time? What did you do to improve your situation?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at HeatherHuhman.com!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. Follow her on Twitter at @heatherhuhman.