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Bad internship experience

There are too many bad internship experiences for youth today

In today’s world, there are a lot of opportunities for young people to get involved. However, there is an increasing lack in the quality of said programs, leading to a bad internship experience. There has been an increasing decline in the quality of youth programs while the quantity of youth programs has increased. There are too many youth programs where they are learning very slow or not that much and/or they are just not impacting their community through that program. Before I changed, I personally was in programs like these, and I have seen a close friend of mine put his time to programs like these. 


My bad internship experience

Even when I got a paid computer science research program that had a 15% acceptance rate associated with the University of Chicago, that program was very independent. I felt empty like I was not interacting with anyone. We would only meet with our supervisor over Zoom once a week and there was really no collaboration with other students. As someone who entered the program excited about the idea of doing research, as the weeks passed by I was left feeling more and more like this was a bad internship experience.

I realized that an important part of life is the ability to constantly assess what you are doing, asking yourself “Is what I am doing productive?” “Am I happy with what I am doing?”

In my Helix business internship associated with After School Matters, I was also still not being provided an actual marketing learning experience, which is why I decided to seek one out myself and start cold-calling for a marketing internship. I had interned at Helix over the summer and in the fall. We were been writing a guide for how to start an after school program and I managed their GoogleMyBusiness and website for about a week, but I wasn’t actually been doing any marketing, business, financial analysis, getting really into the nitty gritty of that sort of stuff, and I had started feeling like I want to be doing these things. I want to actually learn these things so I can promote this website you’re on now. This entrepreneurship internship was something I applied for.


How to avoid a bad internship experience

At the moment, it just seems that students are able to find the best internships just by cold-calling, cold-emailing, or through insane connections. We should have youth programs that are actually meaningful experiences and can provide a lot of real-world learning. When people are young they should be encouraged to be hardworking and involved. When people are young they are easier to change.

I’m starting to feel like the bad internship experiences come from programs you have to apply for. Great internships tend not to have an application for them. They’re the ones where you ask the person, whether by a cold-call or cold-email. I have this awesome website development internship I got by cold-calling. I talk to my supervisor on a regular basis and the internship makes me feel very productive and involved. Want to learn how to get an amazing high school internship by cold-calling or cold-emailing? Read my guide on how to find an internship in high school here! You can also read my guide on how to find research opportunities in high school here!


Signs of a bad internship experience

No formal training

Companies that don’t offer formal training programs may be unfit to work for. Training interns is a must for companies. This will ultimately benefit the company by promoting employee growth. However, many companies don’t have the time or resources to conduct training.


There is no Advancement Plan

Post-internal employment is not guaranteed, but managers must communicate their intentions and be open about the possibilities. Companies that don’t make clear the potential for advancement should be avoided.


Managers not being available can contribute to a bad internship experience

Managers are often busy with their individual job requirements as well as responsibilities for managing entire groups. However, a poor manager is one who does not make the effort to coach and meet with interns. People tend to want social interaction and feedback on their work and the manager can often be the key to creating a positive or negative work environment, despite the best intentions of the company.


Unprepared upon arrival

It could indicate a poor internship if you arrive at work on your first day and find that there is no proper workspace. If a company doesn’t prioritize preparing for interns’ arrival, it could be disorganized in other areas of the business. The company hires you. It must follow up and make sure that there is enough work space available for you on your first day.


There are no clear goals

A manager must set clear goals for interns at the start of their internship in order to help them develop and improve their skills. These goals must be written and discussed with interns. These goals should be reviewed regularly and the intern’s performance evaluated at the end. Failure to set goals for interns can lead to poor work experiences.


A bad internship experience contains busy/grunt work

Although having some work is better that none, it is not always worth the effort. Interns may not always get the most challenging or interesting projects. Companies should make sure there is enough work for both the student and the company.


No Clear Authority

An intern must know who he reports to. There is no one way to establish a manager-intern relationship. However, the intern must know who their supervisor is, how they can support them, and what they need approval for. A lack of authority can lead to a frustrating and confusing experience.


No educational support

Internships are educational processes that are usually done in conjunction with college studies. Internships are not required to be a part of a student’s academic program. However, they can add educational value to the student’s education and experience. An internship is a valuable experience that companies don’t recognize and support.

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sarah lim

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