5 new challenges you can face as an intern

Whether you need an internship for college credit or are starting your career as an upperclassman, starting an internship can feel like you’re against the world for a number of reasons. A new work environment, new coworkers, or even a new field of employment could all be reasons why this new path doesn’t feel as smooth as it should.

Launching your career while in college is no easy feat, and internships can certainly have their fair share of bumps along the way. While most internship challenges can be resolved over time, for a new intern they can feel like an avalanche that crushes your eager and active spirit.

Are you about to start a new internship? Curious about some of the obstacles or challenges you might encounter at the start of your journey. Here are the most common challenges for a new intern.

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1. Being underpaid or not paid at all: Internships are entry-level positions for people looking to build their career in a specific field. These types of positions are set up to make the work experience, as well as the connections you make at work, more meaningful than any type of hourly or salaried compensation. For this reason, one challenge you may face is being underpaid or not being paid at all. Many people these days cannot afford to work and do not get paid, and since internships are classified as jobs, the lack of pay could be hard on your wallet and your mind.

2. Being overworked or underworked: As stated before, internships are entry-level jobs that people will take because the work experience and networking opportunities are worth the inconvenience that comes with a position like this. Besides potentially not getting paid for your work, another challenge you may encounter is being underworked or overworked during your internship. Because internship positions are as entry-level as possible, your workload can go one of two ways: having little or no work or having an abundance of work. Penny Loretta of The Balance writes, “There is a lot to learn about an organization, its people, its mission, the customers it serves, and much of that learning takes place while doing ordinary work.

3. Being prone to wavering expectations: By doing an internship, no matter what field you are in, you will undoubtedly experience your boss, your manager or even your peers or colleagues, giving you wavering expectations. Often too much is expected of interns and they are categorized as people who can instantly learn a job, absorb a new environment, or meticulously perform tasks without prior knowledge. On the contrary, interns can also fall into another category and be expected too little. In this situation, interns may be required to perform trivial tasks, such as fetching coffee or cleaning the office, because the assumption of higher positions is that you are inexperienced. Whichever side of the coin you get in terms of expectations, just show off your best abilities and prove why you’re here.

4. Compete with other trainees: Another common thing you may encounter as an intern is having competitive peers and competing with them. It’s unfortunately a world of dog-eating dogs, and in a selective and competitive job market, people will do anything to get where they want to be. While you are doing your internship, don’t be surprised if your peers or colleagues are cold, mean and closed off. This isn’t the case for everyone, but you’re most likely competing with other interns for a permanent position at your respective company, which means everyone is on top of their game.

5. Being overwhelmed: In a new work environment filled with a new boss/manager, new tasks and new colleagues, you might feel overwhelmed. It’s completely natural and just shows you’re human. Being overwhelmed in an internship position can come from a variety of reasons, but the most important thing to realize is that you are in control and can always back out if needed. If you find yourself completely overwhelmed by your internship, you probably won’t have the mindset to work and thrive in your new environment. To alleviate the stress and anxiety of being overwhelmed, Tara Mcnerney of Tough Nickel suggests, “Don’t fall into the routine of ‘come home, eat, shower, sleep!’ Plan socializing and adventure activities. Do what some of my friends have done to keep life spicy and full of friends: “

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Taking the leap and starting an internship can be a daunting yet rewarding experience. As you work through your internship, you may encounter different workloads, varying expectations, and even be simply overwhelmed by the newness of your position. While those bumpy roads are never fun to navigate, it’s always good to know what to expect so you can better prepare for your next move!

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