University Relations

What if I have problems in my internship?

An internship can benefit you personally and professionally. If obstacles arise during the internship, your awareness of these problems and your ability to handle them will be key to a positive outcome. All positions have challenges, whether it's an internship now or a job later. Dealing with them constructively will help build your experience and skills!

Here are a few ways to handle potential internship obstacles:

Possible Problem Possible Solution
The internship doesn't meet your expectations. 1) List out and assess your expectations. Are they realistic? If so, think about ways to meet them and consider talking to your internship supervisor about them. If you decide they're not realistic, try to figure out why.

2) If you started the internship with a specific position description, reference that description to see if it accurately represents the work you're doing.

3) If you don't already have one, consider working with your supervisor to create a learning contract. (Read about learning contracts in the 'How do I get the most out of an internship?' section.) This is a good way to chart out internship expectations for both you and the organization. If you already have a learning contract, review it and modify if possible.
You and your internship supervisor have conflicting goals or priorities. Some degree of difference is natural. If your differences are extreme, talk to your supervisor openly and positively to see if you can find a middle ground. Remember that your supervisor should want you to have a positive, useful experience. Try to meet your supervisor's expectations while also meeting your own.
Boredom Ask for new projects. If you notice a need or an area that could use some work, offer to work on it. If you show initiative and help solve problems, you'll stand out and gain even better experience for your future.
Poor communication Many workplace problems are a result of poor communication. Don't hesitate to talk to your supervisor about your concerns, but be sure to do so in a diplomatic, positive, and professional way. Most supervisors do not take on an intern unless they're committed to providing a positive experience.

Return to Internships Guide.