What to Do When Your Internship Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

Internships: work experience that’s highly sought after by college students.

Sometimes you can find yourself in a role you absolutely love. Other times, you might not be as lucky. This past summer, I had a software engineering internship. It didn’t meet my expectations, which was disappointing. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I worked on code fixes for an important project at my internship the summer prior. I thought that I finally paved my way into finding work that I actually liked. However, I didn’t feel quite as fulfilled this time around because I was assigned to work on a project that was in the early stages of the engineering process. This meant that there was no work in development or coding. As a computer science major, I’m always looking to get more programming experience. The project was still in the requirements phase and didn’t allow me to do what I thought I came to do. I felt dissatisfied with the work I was doing and didn’t get the rewarding feeling I had before.

I learned some valuable lessons from this. I’m not always going to be working on a project or phase of a project that I like, and this will continue throughout my career. Not every project will be enjoyable or have desirable tasks. I’ll be required to work with what I am assigned and find other opportunities as they arise. I learned that the term “software engineering” encompasses more than just programming: It also involves the early stages of establishing guidelines and the later stages of verifying that the project meets its objectives.

Through this internship, I learned that sometimes I’ll need to speak up. If you need to talk to someone about anything, don’t be afraid to reach out to your manager or someone else on your team. My manager was understanding and did his best to address my issues. He also gave me insight on the importance of the work I was doing. My teammates showed their support by helping me out with my tasks.

Any work experience, enjoyable or not, is a learning opportunity. You can still make connections and learn something related to the area of work you’re interested in. You’ll find people to reach out to when you’re looking for someone to write you a letter of recommendation or when you’re looking for an internship or job in the future. You can also gain further insight into your specific area of interest. For instance, if you were unsure about a certain area in your field, you can find clarity on whether it’s actually what you want to pursue. You’ll also gain soft skills, such as communicating effectively in a work environment. By having a variety of experiences, both good and bad as well in varying areas of work, you can narrow down what you want your future career to look like. An internship typically only lasts a summer or a semester, so make sure to make the most of it!