I work at a startup (a successful one). They’ve hired me as an intern for a new project. I feel there is so much I could do to make the project successful – if only they let me make decisions and gave me a free hand. I don’t feel like giving my best now.

  • Chances are it’s already past time for you to leave… many don’t value interns and hence your frustration will likely increase.

    Consider leaving rather than spend more of your time/energy where you’re not valued… or stay and learn what you can.

  • You sound self-entitled and inexperienced. Workplace success has as much to do with having sound ideas as it does with being able to articulate those ideas and gain buy in. Most people are individual contributors. Their influence doesn’t come from their titles, it comes from their ability to express and support a point of view that causes others to believe. Their influence also comes from their ability to navigate the internal structures of organizations.

    When you provide no additional context other than you have good ideas and you’re an intern, you’ve already demonstrated that you can’t look at a situation objectively or evaluate your contribution to the situation. So use this opportunity to do what an intern should do – learn.

  • I love interns because they look at our problems with a fresh perspective. We value them and pay them. We don’t give them decision-making power because the nature of an internship is that it is a learning experience. This is what is supposed to differentiate it from just being simply a low-paying, temp job. Most importantly, they aren’t with us long enough to experience the result of any decision -and we will have to live with the consequences. So we make the decisions.

  • Take this opportunity and LEARN! Learn everything you possibly can, be humble, thankful and build lasting relationships. Have patience your time will come, you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. LEARN.

  • Here’s a constructive response to the three above which so-readily dismiss the intern.

    Years ago I had someone fresh from college who’d recently been interning at McKinsey.

    Although he was young (20-something) and relatively new to business, he had all sorts of useful knowledge/perspective.

    So don’t write off someone just because they’re an intern/young/inexperienced – there’s many good ops been started by people who’re exactly that.

    [Hell, I wish this wasn’t anonymous – toward which I’m at http://glvr.com. (I don’t know if the link will be accepted, so if not it’s glvr.com.]

  • Thank you so much for your responses. I am overwhelmed. I had more to add to my confession, but the word limit restricted me.

    I have spoken to several of my mentors (colleagues from my previous workplace and friends) and I got this from a lot of them – LEARN. I am trying to learn a lot and I feel I have gained a lot in terms of industry insight.

    My concern was that I don’t personally believe in the work assigned to me and I feel it is sort of a waste of time and effort and that there are better ways of doing this. I kept suggesting but my suggestions sort-of hit a wall. I have to work alone (my manager has a lot of other responsibilities) and most often, I get too bored working on something I don’t really believe in.

    It reached a point where I started charting out plans of how I would do it if it were my company. I’ve tried to create a business plan and have collected enough resources (for the company I am working for) to get it up and running. I will leave them with all my ideas on a powerpoint and an excel when I’m done with my internship but hopefully I will use them for a good project of my own! (If only I had the guts to go out and startup- I’m working on it!)

    Thanks a lot again, all of you. The bottomline was that I feel really guilty- when I sit in office – because I know I am not really doing justice to the job I have been assigned to do. Any advise on this would be very useful – how can I stop thinking about how I would do it better and start focusing what they want me to do?

    • I would add that to motivate yourself, remember how this internship is building transferable skill-sets that you can use in your resume and for future positions. I often let interns know up-front that I will provide a mix of learning experiences but some of what they will provide is valuable support while gaining back-end knowledge of my industry. If you feel you have gained all you can from this internship, I would add the skill-sets to your resume, and look for additional internships. Perhaps you are also ready to go full-steam ahead into looking for a career; devote your mental energy to that off-the-clock and just do what is needed at your job. Someone who is willing to do whatever is asked of them is invaluable at any workplace. Finally, one option would be to sit with your supervisor and explain that you do not feel challenged. Ask out front if they would like your input or if there is room for growth in your position. If not, you really should brainstorm about how to move your career further and find a new internship/fight your way to job interviews and new job.

      • Thanks again 🙂

        Thanks for reminding me that doing whatever is asked for is a great ability and a great contribution to a team. I was highly appreciated at my previous workplace by my manager for being ready to take up any task- no matter how trivial or challenging. Though the challenging bit is missing here, I should give it my best.

  • I would like to add that I am still doing my best to deliver what is asked of me- just that I don’t feel motivated enough.

  • I’d like to echo everything that’s been said above — an internship is a chance to learn and absorb as much as possible. You’re far more likely to impress your bosses by learning things quickly, being reliable, and being willing to take on any task rather than offering unsolicited ways for them to “improve” their business.

    But more importantly, if you’re a go-getter and don’t want to wait around for orders — go create your own side project. That’s the chance for ownership you seem to be hungering for. Keep interning, studying, etc, and channel that untapped energy into a side project. It’ll likely get you better internships to boot 🙂

  • “My concern was that I don’t personally believe in the work assigned to me and I feel it is sort of a waste of time and effort and that there are better ways of doing this.”

    Welcome to the corporate world. I’ve been at my company since 1999 and I have this experience often.

    I’d quit, but I make too much money now, so you should find a small startup that lets you contribute more if that’s one of your pet peeves.

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