Helping your students solve internship problems

October 21, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Every intern runs into problems at his/her internship. After all, it’s a new experience, but students can learn with your help how to resolve issues that are causing frustration or anxiety. Here are 5 tips to share with your students for getting help with specific problems:

  • Assignments:  If you’re having trouble with your assignments, turn first to your internship supervisor for directions. You could ask for a different assignment, additional instructions on performing the project, or for an extended deadline. And if you’re working on a team, do ask your coworkers for help. Offer to put in extra time if necessary. If the internship supervisor doesn’t help you solve your assignment problem, call your school career center for further advice.
  • Company or internship supervisor difficulties:  Sometimes you might encounter personality clashes with your internship supervisor or you might decide that you don’t like the company and its policies. You really can’t talk about these problems at work, so turn to your home campus for counseling. Contact your career center, counseling center or professors for help in how to manage your relationship with your internship supervisor. Sometimes, former interns can be valuable sources for helpful tips, too. Quitting is usually not a viable answer because it could damage your reputation.
  • Coworker issues:  If you’re running into problems with your coworkers, go and talk to your internship supervisor. He/she might be able to shift you to another department or team, so you could continue your internship without undue stress. Or you might learn why your coworker is difficult, resulting in your ability to accept the situation. Whatever you do, don’t gossip with other coworkers about your issues because you can’t depend on confidentiality among your coworkers—even if they might share your sentiments.
  • Technical challenges:  It’s common to run into technology problems since every company has different systems and equipment. Fortunately, each company usually has a tech service onsite to help out employees. Don’t hesitate to ask for help on Day #1 when you see problems. People normally like to help others. If you’re living on campus, you could visit your school’s tech center for more instruction.

Personal problems:  Your boyfriend/girlfriend may have broken up with you, a family member might be ill, or you might have financial problems. But whatever your personal problems, please don’t bring them to work. Instead, simply say everything is fine when asked by a co-worker. Meanwhile, go for some counseling on campus or to a private therapist and talk to trusted friends about your problems. Join a support group outside of work and learn how to manage your problems in the proper environment.

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