I am an intern going through some problems at work and I would really appreciate advice from more experienced people.

I am a 4th year applied computer science student interning at a very small e-commerce company (CEO and 2 employees) officially hired as a web manager. My duties are (supposed to be) web development and maintenance of the Shopify-based website, digital marketing, and analytics. This sounded exciting me, and while I did not have much experience with digital marketing (I told the CEO this) I was and am very willing to learn.

In the 6 weeks I have been there I have:

  • Redesigned their eCommerce page, completely redesigning the home page as well as created two new pages.

  • Planned and executed an email marketing campaign for a referral program. I was given a $0 budget to do this and still managed to do it.

  • Sourced equipment from suppliers to change their production to in-house.

The problems I am facing at work are basically the following:

  • Doing tasks which have nothing to do with my job role. For example, last Friday I cleaned out the owners shed at their personal home because they wanted to store their products there.

  • Being tasked with doing accounting, which I have no background for.

  • Taking on responsibilities of the other employees as they are either traveling or at their full time jobs.

  • Facing a lot of pressure for deadlines, which are tough to meet because I have to do my primary work as well as the work of other employees.

  • No opportunities to program to develop systems to improve the efficiency of processes. I asked and was told I would get these opportunities when I was first interviewing for the job, and even was tasked to create a proposal for an inventory system, which I did, however recently I have been told that these opportunities would not be happening. Instead of being able to develop these systems, I am being tasked with manual data entry, and manual inventory counts.

  • Not being treated with patience when it comes to learning digital marketing and other tasks. I am an intern, not a full professional. This is a learning experience to me and I don't know everything. I don't really know much!

I would really appreciate your advice on how to proceed here, and how to talk to my manager about this. She is not very open to communication, and has shut me down before.

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    So what exactly is your goal? Right now you've described what you don't like about your situation but not what you want to achieve to fix it. – David K Oct 16 '18 at 15:31
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    "For example, last Friday I cleaned out the owners shed at their personal home" Oh wow, that sounds abusive – DevMoutarde Oct 16 '18 at 15:33
  • And how long is this internship? This doesn't sound like a very salvageable situation, so depending how much time is left, the best advice may be to ride it out. – David K Oct 16 '18 at 15:38
  • Not really. Cleaning out shed for storing products in a small comapny may be all hands and as long as it doesn ot take up more than a week per day for all other thigns on average - nothing wrong here. Not optimal, but definitely not abusive. – TomTom Oct 16 '18 at 16:48
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    Have to agree with Tom Tom. If this is a small company then sometimes there are odd jobs that need to be done just because. So one day cleaning out a shed to save money on storage is kind of the thing that will happen. Not great but it happens in small companies. I had to drive across Europe to pack up a company and bring all the office furniture back to the UK from a competitor we bought out. An experience to be sure but not technically part of my duties but the company needed this to happen. – Martin York Oct 16 '18 at 17:17

An internship at a 3 person startup, where half the staff is not even full time is not an internship. You got taken for a ride and you should inform your academic advisor of this arrangement if this was a sanctioned internship by your school.

This should be a warning to others looking for internships. You need to make sure there is a mentor assigned to you that is going to be your guide during the internship. This does not have to be 100% on their part, but there should be someone who is your go to and will be guiding you. I have seen where a group of interns will work together on a project too, and I have my opinions about the value of that too, but they often have a mentor to guide them on that project.

For now I hope they are paying you well. Learn what you can, don't stress that you cannot do all the work, you are an intern, you are supposed be learning and you will make mistakes. As for cleaning out the shed, this is life of a 3 person company, they just don't have all the roles covered and people have to step in sometimes.

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    I would add to this question that when talking about this experience focus on what you learned and responsibilities you took. – jcmack Oct 16 '18 at 21:08

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