Context: This is my third software engineering internships. The previous two were mid-size company in the US. I excelled at those internship, finished my works, got praised, got reference from my past managers, learned a tons, felt super happy, etc etc.

Now, I'm currently interning at the big 4 (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and the likes). This was the dream come true for me, as even having the name of such company on my resume would make my job search much easier. I was placed in a team that does not align with my interest, I hated the project, and still do until now. All the technologies the team is using I have a hard time learning and liking it (C++, PHP, etc). Overall, my background and the team's work does not very collide and mix well together.

So I talked to my manager, and my manager's manager during the 6th week of the internship. Changing team was not an option they said, but they agreed to alter the project a little bit. I know that I caused them trouble, so I suck it up and kept working on the altered project even though I still hate it.

The company culture does not really encourage asking questions that much. During the first half when I asked questions for clarification, I was deemed "dependent" and it reflected badly on my midterm review. Sometimes before I can even pop the question, my peer would be too busy to answer or felt annoyed. I am super stressful everyday, I could not make progress on things that I do not understand. and can't ask questions about it. I am extremely introvert and hard to socialize, I tried my best to talk to my team but I can't just seem to get into the conversation. They are good people, maybe it's just me and something about the team that I can't seem to click (I was able to socialize very well on my first 2 internships).

This is week 8 of the internship, I'm super stressful that for the past 2 weeks, I wanted to come to my manager and say "is it ok if I quit?" I am 90% sure this will result in a "no offer" at the end of week 12, so I'm just trying to make the most out of it. I see other interns happy, playing ping pong all the time, but I do not know anyone that I can talk to and scared to realize that I'm the only intern among thousands in the company that feel this way.

I don't know guys. This is supposed to be one of the best internship program in the planet. Have anyone interned in big 4 and got a terrible experience? Any advices that can help me improve my experience, even though it might be too late?

  • I google big 4 and looks like are accounting firms? If that is the case I dont know why would you assume an internship in one is similar to the other 3. – Juan Carlos Oropeza Jul 10 '19 at 22:19
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    "Big 4" is not a tech term. Tech is FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google). Microsoft seems to have gotten back in while Facebook is on the out, so I guess it'll be MAANG now? Or maybe Facebook is still in so it'll be... uh, FMAANG? (It's definitely more than 4). – Nelson Jul 11 '19 at 2:52
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    How much effort do you make to find out answers by consulting internal documentation (for project specifics) or books and tutorials (for C++ and PHP)? – Patricia Shanahan Jul 11 '19 at 3:25
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    I always thought the "Big Four" were PWC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG! – David Jul 11 '19 at 7:15
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It's not always obvious what work environment you'll be happy in, and this is one of the great things about internships. They are learning experiences, but not just for technical learning. Across your few internships in college, you to try out different industries, project, company sizes team size etc, and find what culture/projects works the best for you.

There's a lot of pressure around working at one of the big 4, especially in college where it's everyone "dream job", but that's peer pressure talking. There's no shame in realizing it's not a good fit, and that doesn't make you a less capable person or engineer.

My recommendation to you is to stick it out for the few weeks left.

Technically, I would recommend focusing on the aspects of the internship that transfer outside of the internship. You may not enjoy your project, but many of the skills used are universal (i.e. reading and understanding documentation, logic, development processes, writing clean, well-commented code). This can be a good opportunity to hone those details.

Non-techincally, you could poke around at other projects they are working on, and see if a field sounds interesting for you to learn more about or pursue specifically in the future.

Remember that even a bad experience can be a learning one.

  • +1 for "Remember that even a bad experience can be a learning one." – solarflare Jul 10 '19 at 23:44
  • Thank you for such thoughtful answer. +1 for "even a bad experience can be a learning one". I'll use this to teach my kids someday – Nyandere Jul 11 '19 at 6:53
  1. Recognize that this is not the end of the world.

  2. Big 4, great, but remember there are thousands of companies. Be thankful that you have learned where you might be happiest in your career.

  3. Write down what you want to say to your peer and manager. Focus on what you can achieve and deliver. Tell them what you understand and what you need help with.

  4. Be professional. Love your project or hate it, stick to the tasks you can do and the ones you need help with.

  5. You might not get a job offer. That’s ok. Work hard. Be confident. Hold your head high.

  6. Don’t quit. Stick it out for your resume.

  7. Seek out a friend. Doesn’t have to be the manager or your peer. But find someone on the team who can be a reference going forward. I think you will be surprised. Someone is willing to tell a potential employer that you were there 12 weeks. You worked hard. You are smart and made a contribution.


Within computing, there are a lot of cultural variations. One aspect is how much you are expected to be able to learn by yourself. As others have pointed out, one group in one business is not a large enough sample to project internal culture in all groups in multiple businesses.

During interviews, you need to ask about expectations in this area, and make sure you have a match.

Meanwhile, you need to make the best you can of your current job, and that may mean improving your independent learning skills.

You talk about Internet searches but not reading books or following tutorials.

I have learned many programming languages, at least to the point of being able to read code and maintain programs in them, and some in considerable depth. To learn an additional language, I always start with a basic book. I work through the book, reading, doing exercises, alternating between the book and experiments in the language. Even though the first chapters of a basic book will be mainly about material I already know from other languages they help me get the mindset and terminology for the new language.

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