Posted tagged ‘internship workload’

Q. I’m not very challenged at my internship. How do I discuss this with my boss?

June 2, 2010

A. Your boss will appreciate your honesty and will identify you as a rising star. Your interest in taking on more responsibility will generate better assignments plus you’ll learn more new skills. And when you finish your internship, you’re sure to receive rave recommendations. Here’s how to ask for more challenges at your internship:

  1. Make sure you’ve done a great job on the assignments that you’ve completed. Can you document that you’ve finished all your responsibilities ahead of time and exceeded expectations? Your ability to demonstrate why you should have more challenges impresses your boss. He/she will know you take your internship seriously and want to add value to the company. (For tips on prioritizing your work, check out “Tracey’s Angle” for an intern’s perspective.)
  2. Be careful not to belittle any efforts by other interns or even co-workers who may be performing the same tasks as you. Choose your language carefully when your boss asks why you want more responsibility. Instead of using words like “boring,” or “repetitive” to describe your dissatisfaction with your assignments, explain that you want to do more to develop your skills and to help the company reach its goals. You may even add that you’re willing to continue your original assignments but want more challenging work in the company, even if it means working longer hours.
  3. Do some research before you approach your boss. In other words, be careful what you ask for because you might get it. You can ensure that your new tasks will be ones that you’ll enjoy if you have participated in selecting them. Also, you’ll be much more successful if you pick fresh challenges that showcase your talents. If you’re excellent at research, ask if you can work on a research project. If you’re a computer whiz, suggest an assignment in that area. Prepare a brief report, outlining potential new challenges along with goals and timelines. How can your boss say no?

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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