Is your internship experience starting to feel more like a never-ending coffee run rather than the fun and exciting position you were promised? If yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Internships can be a great way to gain valuable experience and grow your skills, but not if your hardest tasks include fetching coffee and filing.
Underwhelming internships are hard, but they’re not impossible to overcome. Here’s how to make the most out of your experience:
Network with your co-workers. The biggest resource you have in any internship are the people working around you. Build relationships with your co-workers and learn from their experiences in the industry. Odds are, once your colleagues and supervisor get to know you better, they’ll trust you with more challenging tasks. They’ll also be able to give you great insight on the career path you’re pursuing. At the very least you’ll have gained valuable connections and worthy advice through your internship.
Talk to your supervisor. If you feel that the tasks you’re being assigned don’t showcase your skills or potential, let your bosses know the kind of projects you’d like to work on. Some amount of office work is to be expected in any internship. After all, you’re being offered exposure in your career field – with little to no experience – in exchange for some desk work. Once you’ve finished your work though, ask your boss for something more challenging. They’ll be impressed with your initiative and know you’re willing to take on more tasks.
Don’t be afraid to speak up. Internships are a two-way street. College students look for internship opportunities to build their resumes, but employers often look for interns with fresh voices and ideas. If you believe a new idea or project can benefit the company, share it. Make sure to have a good pitch prepared on why your plan and involvement is needed.
Shadow. Shadow. Shadow. Finding a good mentor to shadow can be the thing that turns a bad internship into something you really enjoy. We usually only get to see one side of the company we’re interning for. Shadowing different employees will give you access to different departments and job responsibilities. You’ll have the opportunity to ask tons of questions and branch out from your normal tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask your mentors questions, most of the time they love to share their wisdom. Talk to your boss about scheduling a few hours of shadow experience during your day so you can get the most out of your experience.
Sharpen your skills. If your internship isn’t shaping out to be the experience you were hoping for, use the time there to enhance your weaknesses. There’s always room for improvement no matter how mundane a job or internship may seem. Constant desk work may lead you to discover that you get nervous talking on the phone with strangers or that your Spanish could use some work. Make the most out of your experience by strengthening your weaknesses. This will no doubt come in handy for your next internship!
Don’t get discouraged if your internship doesn’t turn out to be your dream job. Try to remember that any opportunity can be worthwhile if you’re willing to find the good in it.