I previously wrote about ways you can tell fairly quickly that you’ve landed a dream internship. When you’ve landed a great internship, you’ll know it and it will pay off for you long after the actual internship period has ended. However, the unfortunate reality is that not all internships are paved in gold.
Let’s keep in mind that some industries are better than others (from what I hear), but the fact of the matter is that poor internship experiences are ubiquitous. Here are five ways to identify if your internship site is getting the best of you – without giving much of anything in return.
1. Intern Clutter
Some companies operate with anywhere from 4-5 full-time employees and hire up about 20 interns per semester. Guess who does the majority of the cog work. This is a poor environment for a number of reasons. Interns in this environment won’t receive the level of structure that a strong internship program calls for. Interns won’t be given regular, detailed feedback on their work, and often times they will simply run out of work to do.
2. Lack of New Tasks
You will likely find yourself with a steep learning curve in the initial days or even weeks of your internship program. That’s great! But if this learning curve plateaus and you fall into a repetitive drone of the same work day after day, it might be time to re-examine your situation. Always strive for something new – something that will add to your skillset and provide value to your internship site.
3. No Regular Feedback or Review Process
As with any young professional or intern, a certain level of guidance is needed. This is all part of the learning process. Quite often some of the most valuable learnings come from higher-ups who pass knowledge down to the interns. If you aren’t having regular (either weekly or monthly) scheduled sessions where your work is reviewed and given constructive feedback, be sure to ask for it. Now!
4. No Internship Outline
Here’s one red flag that will appear immediately if it appears at all. At the very outset of your internship, you should have a conversation with your manager or supervisor to outline your core responsibilities and the general course of your internship. Interns – especially those who are unpaid – need to remember that the value exchange between company and intern has to be a two-way street.
5. Minimal Long-Term Value
If you’ve gotten to this point, it may be too late to do anything about your internship experience. If there is minimal to no long-term value to be extracted from your internship, that’s a sure sign of a dud. Strong internships should be able to provide you with lasting value – whether that’s through networking, skills learned or even a full-time job.
Let’s hear from you now! Have you had a poor internship experience? Tell us about it in the comments, and let us know what signs indicate to you that an internship isn’t picture perfect.