Posted tagged ‘internship manager’

Q. I can tell my boss isn’t happy with my performance. How do I start an honest conversation about expectations?

June 18, 2010

A. Before you start the conversation, create a game plan to ensure that the meeting is successful and accomplishes your goals. Your proactive approach is admirable. You may be helping your boss start a sensitive conversation that he/she has been postponing. Here are a few tips for a meaningful meeting:

  1. Set up an appointment at a time that is convenient for your boss and estimate how long you think the meeting will take, so he/she can be available. Prepare an agenda that covers your crucial concerns.
  2. Phrase your points with questions, making it easier for your boss to respond. For example, “In what areas do you think I need to improve?” or “Do you have any suggestions on how I can meet company expectations?” Keep your questions to a limited number, such as six. 
  3. Present the agenda to your boss before the meeting, ensuring that he/she has time to reflect on the questions and deliver helpful answers. At the meeting, make sure you have a notebook and write down the answers as a sign of your commitment to change.
  4. Listen respectfully to what your boss says. Refrain from interrupting or from giving long excuses as to why you haven’t met expectations. Your boss wants to clear up miscommunications and help you meet expectations as much as you do. Both you and your boss want the internship to add value to the company.
  5. Keep in mind that an honest conversation is a good goal. But “honest” means in a proactive way that will yield positive results. For example, honesty doesn’t extend to telling the boss that you don’t like your co-workers or that your office is too small, which is why you aren’t meeting expectations.
  6. Use diplomacy. The meeting is a tool for you to improve your situation, not to bring up negative issues that may be irresolvable. Before the meeting is over, ask your boss to help you create revised expectations, so you have a new method to assess your performance.

Q. How do I tell my new boss that I don’t understand my project or that I need help?

May 21, 2010

A. You’re not alone. Even full-time employees often encounter the same problem. Whether it’s a regular job or an internship, a challenging experience will teach you new skills. Understandably, however, you feel uncomfortable admitting that you don’t know how to do your project or that you need help. Try the following tips to solve your problem:

  1. Most projects are team efforts. If you have other people working on the same project, ask them for help as soon you run into trouble. Or, if you have friends or fellow interns at the company, you might want to ask them for advice.
  2. For a better understanding of your project, do some research on it. Obtain some reports or documents that detail its history, goals, timeline, personnel etc. Once you see the big picture, your part of the project will make more sense to you. You may find it helpful to sit down with the project manager and find out more about your role.
  3. If your confusion stems from a lack of certain technical skills, you may be able to develop the necessary proficiency in a short time. You could also simply be experiencing stress at performing your assignment in a large project. Feeling overwhelmed can block your ability to move forward. Try doing one small step at a time in hopes that the next step will become clear as you move forward. Consider your project a giant puzzle and place one piece at a time.
  4. If none of the above tips works, you may have to be honest with yourself and admit that this project is not for you. Then, set up a meeting with your intern manager and explain your dilemma. Emphasize that you don’t want to hold your team back, and problem solve with your manager the best way to handle the situation.
  5. This same advice applies to a situation in which you really dislike your assignment although you understand how to do it. In either case, ask your internship manager if you have any other options. Your own time is valuable and should be spent in a positive manner. It’s probably that you’ll end up with a much better review and recommendation if you like your work and perform to the best of your ability.

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