You’ve landed the perfect internship but you are now experiencing certain challenges that you don't know how to handle and you're not sure what to do. Most students enter their internships with high expectations and become frustrated when the internship does live up to what they anticipated it would be like due to various challenges that they encounter.
The key is to not become so disgruntled with the situation that you fail to look for solutions to the problem. First, assess the problem and do what you can to find a successful solution so you can turn that internship into the positive experience that you were originally expecting. By being the perfect intern, you can turn things around and still make it the perfect internship.
You’ve Been Assigned All of the Grunt Work
If you haven’t already, you will find that the best way to deal with any challenge is to communicate directly with the source. By developing strong communications with your boss, you will pave the way to best handle any obstacle that comes up on the job. In this case, you will not want to complain about the work you are being given to do; but you want to discuss all of the really cool projects that you discussed with your boss during your interview.
Now is the time to ask your boss to meet you for coffee and then let him or her know that you have been really enjoying this time spent learning more about the company; and you are really looking forward to beginning some of the projects that you initially discussed in your interview, like attending board meetings, meeting with clients, or doing some design work for the new website that will be going up shortly; this discussion will gently remind your boss of the things that were discussed during your interview and hopefully he or she will be willing to incorporate some of that work into your daily assignments.
You Have Not Been Compensated Appropriately
In this situation, it is important to bring up the fact that you haven’t been compensated as outlined in your original agreement, as quickly as possible. You do not want too much time to lapse before letting your boss know that you have been unhappy with your compensation.
Oftentimes the system was not set up properly when you first came on board, but it’s much easier to correct this situation if one to two months have not gone by prior to bringing it up to your employer. Sometimes students are afraid to negotiate or discuss salary, and if the salary is not correct they are just as afraid to bring up any discrepancies. By bringing up this situation in a thoughtful manner you are not only showing that you are able to stand up for yourself, but you're also able to be assertive in a very delicate situation.
Employers are usually upset when a situation like this occurs and are more than happy to rectify the situation and even happier that you brought it to their attention so as to maintain a good working relationship.
You Are Overwhelmed
Once you have identified the major portion of your discomfort, it’s important to assess the situation and see if you can’t find ways to handle the situation by doing research on the internet or by speaking with someone you trust within the organization.
This is where a good mentor can be very helpful and, if you don’t have one, finding someone within the organization who may act as a mentor can be an enormous relief. You may ask someone you look up to in the organization and let them know you admire the work they do and ask if they would they be willing to mentor you so that you are able to learn the ins and outs of the organization more quickly.
If you are not able to make the situation better over a relatively short period of time, it may be time to bring the situation up to your supervisor. Perhaps they can better explain some of the areas where you are having difficulty or they can reduce the work assignments until you feel more comfortable. Employers sometimes forget that interns and new employees are new to the field and don’t always provide all of the information required to do the job when handing out assignments. Good employers encourage new people to ask questions when completing assignments, so it’s important that you feel comfortable to do so.
Little to No Feedback From Your Supervisor
This is another situation where direct and constant communication with your employer is key. Even prior to your internship it is important to let your supervisor know what you hope to learn from this internship as well as your personal skills and strengths that you can apply when completing assignments for the company.
Having a mentor can be extremely helpful when trying to evaluate your work yourself. Setting up regular meetings with your supervisor can also be enormously helpful since you will be able to ask for honest feedback and find ways so that you can improve your performance. There is nothing more motivating than to hear your employer say that you are doing an excellent job. If there are areas where you can improve, it’s comforting to hear about those areas so that you can work to make your performance better.
These are just a few of the most common challenges that interns face when starting an internship; and, as you can see, there are ways that you can successfully handle each challenge so that your internship is successful just as you hoped it would be when first accepting the internship.