Saturday, December 22, 2007

Life is too short to put up with a bad internship

In celebration of my new found freedom at the end of a stressful semester, I decided to do a little shopping. While I walked through the mall, I came across the store Barney's. As I approached the entrance, the first thing that popped into my mind was my summer internship.

Like I have said before, last summer I interned with an upscale designer in Manhattan. I was hired as a public relations intern. I was under the impression that I would help the designer with press kits and other related tasks, but did I do any PR? I wish the answer were yes! Unfortunately, I spent most of my days packing up inventory for Barney's and other upscale stores. Every day I came home frustrated. Packing inventory was definitely not in job description that I signed up for. I accept that grunt work is usually an inevitable part of an internship; however, this was much worse than doing menial tasks. Internships are for learning, not doing someone else’s entire job. The designer should have hired a person to fill the shipping position or clarified my duties during the interview.

Looking back, I wish I had listened to the people around me. My friends and family told me to quit and find a fair internship where I would be able to learn about my field of interest, but I didn't listen. I felt uncomfortable with my boss and didn't have the courage to say anything. Let me tell you, regret sucks!

My advice is to speak up if you are an intern who is doing tasks that are not part of the job description you agreed to. Talk to your immediate advisor or someone else who you feel comfortable approaching about your duties. Take initiative and suggest some projects or tasks you would like to do. Anticipate the company’s needs. The purpose of interning is to watch and learn. If you are neither doing anything meaningful nor learning, there is no reason to put up with your unfair internship. Take pride in your work, realize you strengths, and stand up for yourself!



kitty said...

...and that's why i left ;)

Laura said...

I'm doing a story on good and bad internship for a business publication in New York, and came across your post. If you'd be interested in providing some insight for my piece, contact me at the email address below. My deadline is 2/15.

Stephanie said...

Laura, I would love give you some insight for your piece. Unfortunately, I cannot find your email address. Please email me at