The Workplace

I didn't like my internship. Should I tell people?

By Colleen Sabatino, The Intern Coach

Thank you for asking a very important question. Other interns may have come to the same conclusion about their experiences. Before you decide how to handle the situation, evaluate your internship and decide why it was a waste of time. Then, air your views accordingly. The following tips may help you put that negative experience behind you and look forward to future internships with a positive attitude:

  • Evaluating your internship: Were your expectations realistic? You may have misunderstood the scope or duties of the internship in your haste to procure one. If so, that’s your problem. You could have been overqualified for the position and found the hours dragged and you were bored. If so, consider yourself more advanced in your skills than you had previously thought. Take consolation in the fact that you’re ahead of the other interns. However, if the duties or internship description changed, resulting in assignments that you felt were a waste of time, then the company is at fault here. Were you given unexpected assignments that annoyed you, such as getting coffee or making copies? You were probably too polite to say no, but you’ve built up resentment against the company, and understandably so. But someone needs to know how you feel.
  • Expressing your feelings:  There is no sense in telling anyone at the company that the internship was a waste of your time because it’s too late to do anything about it. Also, keep in mind that you still want a good reference letter.  You do owe it to future interns to confide your disappointment to your school’s career center or counselor who set up the internship for you. To be fair, explain your evaluation of why the internship was not a success. The counselor will appreciate your information, ensuring that the next intern is better suited to the position or deciding that the company is not a good internship site for the school’s students. If a student asks you about your internship, stop and think about your response. If it’s a student who is considering the same internship, you might want to give your honest opinion. However, if it’s an idle question that will only generate gossip, then it’s better to simply shrug off the inquiry.
  • Looking ahead:  Fortunately, most students are expecting to experience multiple internships in their academic careers. Let’s hope that all your other internships will be great. You might want to spend some time on internships.com, browsing through thousands of internships, searching for the right one for you. Enter the keywords and watch all the internships come up. Then, apply for the ones that appeal to you, giving yourself plenty of options. Be choosy. And be sure to start your search months ahead of time. Also, check in with your career center at school. After your earlier negative experience, the staff will work extra hard to ensure that your next internship is a positive one.