Your Guide to Internship Emergencies

By Christine Ascher on June 18, 2017

For many college students, summertime means interning. Whether this will be your first internship or fifth, starting a new one will always include its share of difficulties and you can expect to encounter a few learning curves. This is to be expected, so don’t worry if you feel unprepared or overwhelmed. Plus, regardless of your prior experience, you’re lucky if you get through an entire summer internship without an emergency arising.

Whether you’re interning as a copywriter or an investment analyst, thinking on your feet and being quick to respond in these situations will be what sets you apart. In order to be best prepared for an internship emergency, keep these five tips in mind.

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1. Change your perspective

Problems that pop up during your internships are not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, they provide you with the perfect opportunity to set yourself apart from the rest and to make yourself more valued to your company. This might mean working extra hard and putting in extra hours — don’t let that intimidate you. While you shouldn’t be working late all the time, it’s a good idea whenever you personally or your company as a whole is facing an emergency.

Even as an intern, you can make a big difference in the face of an emergency, provided you put in the effort. Being willing to help out when things are going wrong will set you apart and will help convince your boss to offer you another position in the future if you want to keep working there. Though in the moment you might not feel this way, keep in mind that any issues you come across are opportunities to impress.

2. Take the initiative

Let’s say the team that you’re assisting in your internship has encountered a major problem. You want to help, but feel like you can’t, seeing as you’re just an intern.

Instead of doing nothing, try brainstorming some solutions of your own. Even if you don’t necessarily implement them yourself, you’ll be able to offer up some ideas at your next meeting. Your team will probably appreciate your taking the initiative to help, and that will definitely help you become a more involved and respected intern in the future.

3. Remember that a partial fix is better than nothing

Handling emergency situations in your internship will probably require some thinking outside the box. Even if you’re interning as a financial analyst, put your creativity to the test whenever you encounter a problem. Maybe you were supposed to type up a memo for your boss but your computer breaks and you’re under a time crunch.

Instead of stressing out, come up with a simple fix; for instance, you can handwrite the memo and make copies. It may not be as good as what you’d originally intended, but it will definitely be better than nothing. Your supervisor will appreciate that you looked for a solution rather than just giving up. You might even end up being given more respect and responsibility as a result.

4. Ask for advice

Any time you make a mistake or have a serious problem in your internship, don’t be afraid to go to your supervisor for help. Though you may feel like you should be handling the situation completely on your own, it’s always okay to ask your supervisor for advice — after all, that’s essentially what they’re there for.

Explain the situation thoroughly and see if there is anything specific that your supervisor would like you to do. Make it clear that you’re hoping to resolve the issue on your own, but that you want some input as to the direction you should go. If you try to solve the problem completely on your own, with no input from anyone more experienced, you could end up making things worse.

You’re better off going to your supervisor right away before the situation has a chance to worsen. Even if you’re too intimidated or don’t want to bother your direct supervisor, ask a more experienced employee for some advice; they might even have the first-hand experience with a similar situation and can give you some suggestions for how to improve it.

5. Admit when you make a mistake

Whenever you make a mistake that starts to snowball out of control — and it can happen to any of us — the best that you can do is to admit it and find out how to make it better. Mistakes can only get worse if you don’t properly address them, and ignoring them can turn a minor error into a serious problem.

Every intern is inevitably going to make some mistakes when they first start out, so don’t be afraid to admit if and when you do something wrong. You’ll be much better off admitting your mistake and asking for help than if you ignore it and let things spin out of control. As long as you’re doing your best, it’s okay to make some mistakes — it’s all a part of the learning process.

By Christine Ascher

Uloop Writer
Hi! I'm Christine and I'm currently a junior at the University of Southern California, where I study English Literature, Economics, and French.

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