How to Turn Your Crappy Internship into a Positive Learning Experience

Congrats!  You’ve secured a post-grad internship and are one step closer in climbing that proverbial corporate ladder and getting the plush corner office with a spectacular view.

BUT, (and this is a big but) there’s one obstacle keeping you from your dream career: a sub-par experience and a micro-managing bully of a boss that you’re convinced is out to ruin your budding career (cue Kevin Spacey’s character from the movie ‘Horrible Bosses’).

While this may seem a bit melodramatic, it holds a bit of truth.

What happens when your internship, well, really sucks? Your dream job put on hold, and career path questioned because of a bad experience?

These 3 tips will help you turn an unloved internship into one worth cherishing.

Set Goals

Whether you love your internship or hate it, remember your future employer will most likely ask about your experience at this company. This is the perfect opportunity to set personal goals/objectives. Have writing samples to put in a portfolio, ask someone you trust for a recommendation on Linkedin, or secure media coverage for a client and foster relationships with reporters. Walk away from this experience knowing that, although the it wasn’t exactly what you expected, it taught you what you want and don’t want in a career (and that’s pretty valuable).

Play well with others

This may seem a bit remedial (and obvious) but it turns out your kindergarten teacher was preparing you for proper professionalism at a young age. No matter how much you clash with other interns or employees it is CRITICAL that you follow Ron Burgundy’s lead and ‘stay classy’ at all times. Leave the politics to Bill O’Reilly and Anderson Cooper; you are not getting paid to criticize and opine about co-workers. Trash talking will only leave you looking foolish and hinder your chances of getting hired at a different company.

Be Positive

Any experience is better then NO experience at all and just because you’re not toting around New York City fetching cabs and Starbucks coffee for co-workers at a ‘glamorous’ PR/entertainment firm does not mean you can’t gain valuable experience for any future toting you may do. Think of this experience as a stepping stone in your career. Even if the tasks were mundane you still gained experience working with others, learning a new management style (good or bad that you should avoid or replicate), and picking up a new skill set i.e. writing/editing, problem solving, self-confidence, leadership, etc.

You may not realize it now, but this experience is preparing you for future opportunities and creating a career path best suited for what you desire. Learn from it and leave feeling happy and hopeful because as the saying goes ‘A bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.’ Don’t let one bad experience spoil your chances to the possibility of a great career and a fresh, fabulous future.

What have you learned from a bad internship experience and how have you grown from it? Would love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author
Jackie Bavaro is a recent graduate from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication. She is currently pursuing a public relations career in ‘The Queen City’ of Charlotte, NC. Connect with her on Twitter (@JackieBavaro) and Linkedin.


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