Internship in Asia

What to do if you don't like your internship

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It’s not uncommon to arrive at a new job full of expectations only to find it’s not what you’d imagined it to be. No matter how detailed the job description and how much research into the company or industry you do, your expectations almost never match up to reality. Sometimes this can be positive, but not always. So, what should you do if you start your new internship only to find that you don’t really like it? Here are our top tips.

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Give it a chance

Let’s face it, the chances of your first day at a new job being wonderful are slim. You’re in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by new people and recognised by everyone as the ‘newbie’, who doesn’t yet know their way around. First days tend to be about getting to know your new workplace and colleagues rather than getting stuck into your role, so it’s possible you’ll feel like a bit of a spare part. This is perfectly normal, and something that even seasoned professionals experience when moving to a new company. It’s only natural that it takes a bit of time to settle in, so give it a chance and stick at it for a few weeks before deciding it’s not for you. In doing so you’ll probably discover that you quickly find your place in the company and look back at your first day and laugh.

Assess what it is you don’t like

If, by a couple of weeks in, you’re still not enjoying your internship as much as you’d hoped, take some time to assess why. Is the workload, your colleagues, the environment or the industry? Breaking down the problem will help you identify the root, which is the first step to finding a solution. Once you’ve worked out what it is that’s causing your dissatisfaction, think of how this can be fixed whether that’s by a chat with your manager, getting more involved with your colleagues, or working on tasks that better suit you.   

Change your attitude

It’s common for interns to go into their internship expecting to be given large amounts of responsibility and interesting projects from the get-go. More often than not, this leads to a sense of dissatisfaction once they discover that’s not usually the case. If this sounds familiar, think of it from your manager’s perspective; they don’t yet know you, your interests or capabilities, and it takes time to gain their trust. By making sure you have a positive attitude towards both work and your colleagues and completing even the most mundane of tasks without complaint, you’re sure to catch their attention and quickly be trusted to do more complex tasks. On the contrary, if you take the view that you’re being undervalued and have a chip on your shoulder about doing tasks that aren’t challenging you enough, you’ll probably give off a bad impression to your manager, which will influence their decision to give you more interesting things to work on. You’ll be surprised at the impact a positive attitude can have, not only on yourself, but on others around you!

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Get involved

As an intern, it’s easy to feel a bit isolated from your colleagues who are permanent employees. You may feel like you’re on the side-lines, especially when you first start. Don’t let this set the tone for your whole experience. Instead, do your best to get involved, chat to your colleagues and make yourself known. By making a bit of effort to get to know the permanent employees, you’ll not only create a good impression of yourself, but also make your experience more enjoyable and learn as much as possible. This is particularly the case when you’re abroad; you may find that colleagues in China or Japan are shy to speak to you as a foreigner, but once you make the effort, you’re sure to reap the rewards of life-long friends and business contacts.



Set goals

If you’re struggling to motivate yourself to go in to work, be that because you’re finding it difficult, boring or irrelevant, it’s a good idea to set yourself personal goals. Take things step by step and decide what you want to achieve within that day, week or month. By setting yourself smaller targets, you can focus on what you’re doing at that time rather than getting overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Remember that any experience is good experience

You may have applied for what you thought was your dream job, only to realise a few weeks in that it’s not what you want to do at all. If this happens, it’s important you don’t simply give up and leave. There’s a reason you always imagined yourself doing it, and it might just take a bit of time to get used to. If you’ve given it time and realise that it’s really not what you want, you should still stick it out; you never know where one experience can lead you, and whether you like the industry or not, you’re sure to develop transferrable skills that will be useful to you whatever you end up going in to.

Internships are all about learning, even if that means about what you don’t want to do. Rather than giving up at the first hurdle, you should demonstrate commitment and make the best of the situation by learning as much as possible. This will help you in many ways in your future career, and it’s important to remember that.

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Speak to your manager

Your manager is likely very busy and perhaps hasn’t noticed that you’re not enjoying your experience too much. If your experience is really getting you down, the first thing you should do before making any big decisions is speak to him or her. Once you’re honest about how you’re feeling, your manager can try to tailor your experience as best as possible to make the rest of your time there enjoyable. If the problem is what you’re working on, they may be able to adapt your tasks to better suit your interests, or if the problem lies more in your experience at the company, they can make improvements to it for both you and future interns.

They’ve already invested time and effort into hiring you, so they won’t want to lose you without first trying to make things better. Don’t be afraid to speak about it!

Speak to your internship provider

Finally, if you’ve gone to your host country through an internship provider, don’t forget that they are there to help you. If, after speaking with your manager and trying all the steps above, you’re still not feeling any better about your experience, reach out to tell them how you’re feeling. They will want you to have a great experience, and they will know a lot about the company you’re working for, meaning they can offer good advice specific to your experience.

Feeling like this is not completely unusual, and you may even find that the people who have had the best experiences interning abroad started out like this too. By taking the above steps to make your experience better, you’re sure to have a rewarding experience from which you’ll gain a lot. Just remember; giving up at the first sign of difficulty is not the way to deal with an internship you don’t like, so do your best to make the most of it as you never know what it will result in. 

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