10 Signs Of A Poor Internship Program

Last updated Sep 27, 2021 | Published on Sep 27, 2021

Employers are increasingly using internships as an extruder to train their staff. Whether you are looking to start an internship program or applying for a job, understanding the signs of a poor internship program will help you make the right decision and save you a lot of time and money. Before you apply for an internship, here are some great resources for interns, medical students, residents, and trainees to cultivate a fulfilling career.

Internships are an important part of one’s career. They provide the opportunity to gain professional experience and knowledge that can’t be obtained in a classroom environment. But, not all internships are created equal. Many factors determine whether or not you’re working in a good internship program, but if you notice these signals, it might be time to start looking for another one!

Table Of Contents:

1. Lack of Clear Goals and Objectives

A poorly designed internship can signal incompetence and erode trust. This can mean the employer does not have clear goals for you or their organization. If this sounds like the case at your internship, it’s unlikely to get better without deliberate and decisive action on your part. 

2. Lack of Direction and Mentorship

Internships are an opportunity to gain knowledge from professionals who know more than you do about what you’re doing and how to do it well – but if there isn’t anyone who fits into this category where you’re interning, then there’s not much hope for learning anything valuable during your time there. Make sure that someone with knowledge has taken an interest in guiding and supporting you throughout the internship.

3. Great Ideas, but No Follow Through

If your internship lacks direction and you can’t put together a clear project plan that has the chance of coming to fruition, then it’s probably not worth staying at that organization long term – not even as an intern. It might seem like the right idea at the moment to jump on board with whatever they’re asking for, but if there aren’t any plans for implementation or success with these projects down the line, it will be hard to see where you fit into their future.

4. Low Compensation

It might sound obvious, but if you’re working all day long every day without getting paid for more than minimum wage (if anything), then this is a sign that something isn’t quite right with your internship. Make sure that you’re getting compensated fairly for what you are doing!

5. Poorly-Defined Tasks with Unclear Deadlines

It’s always helpful to have a project plan or well-defined tasks and deadlines to help you succeed at your internship. If this isn’t the case, it can feel impossible to know how to get anything done. Be sure that your supervisor is able to explain what they need from you in terms of projects and timelines so that there aren’t any issues down the line.

6. No Room for Growth or Learning New Skills

If it doesn’t seem like there are opportunities available for moving up within the organization after finishing an internship, then perhaps it might not be worth staying on board with them long term. 

7. Poor Work-Life Balance

You should always feel like your internship offers you the ability to take time off and come back refreshed! If this isn’t the case, then it might be worth looking elsewhere so that you can get adequate sleep, see friends or family regularly, and enjoy other aspects of life without feeling too stressed out about what’s going on at your job during every free moment.

Keep searching until you find an organization with great benefits in terms of work-life balance because seldomly, all it takes is one bad experience before realizing that your search needs to start over again from scratch.

8. No Opportunities for Networking

When you are just starting up in your career, networking is one of the most valuable things you can do. You’re not making connections if you’re not meeting new people other than your supervisor. You should try to meet as many people as possible during your internship. The more connections you make, the more likely you will be hired in the future, either by the organization you are interning or elsewhere.

It is not to say that the internship was a complete failure. However, if you are restricted to a small cubicle and don’t have anyone to talk to, this can be detrimental to your future career opportunities.

9. Excluded From Meetings

Are you never invited to group events or meetings? To increase productivity, your employer may choose to exclude you from specific meetings. Ask whether you can come as an observer if you believe you would benefit from the sessions and would like to participate more actively in the discussions. Showing that you are willing to sit through long and exhausting meetings demonstrates that you intend to stay at the organization long-term and become more involved in the organization’s key decisions.

10. No Formal Training

Many organizations don’t take the time to organize and conduct formal training for new interns. However, training is an important part of the learning experience you get at work. Failure to provide any training may result in a mismatch between your expectations and those of your employers. Be proactive if this occurs. Make a list of any questions or comments you have and share them with your supervisor. Make sure you’re completely honest about what you don’t know. For example, if you lack the necessary experience to complete a task, state that fact while expressing your desire to gain the necessary experience.

The Way Forward

When interning for an organization with all or some of the issues listed above, you have a few options. You can discuss the issue with your supervisor that you dislike or agree with, become friends with your fellow workers, or find a mentor willing to assist you. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to deal with a bad internship is to quit.

While internships can offer great learning experiences, ways to make connections and start your professional career, you must be cautious about finding an internship that is safe and provides quality experiences and not a total waste of time.

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