I’m a photography major, and this past semester I was fulfilling my internship requirement at an art museum. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the museum was forced to shut down, and my position in the digitization department left me unable to work remotely. My college chairwoman suggested we find a new internship for me, and had me apply to a local business as a photographer. I figured I’d be editing photos for the company, or out in the field shooting when things calmed down.

I’ve been working with the head of the company since early April, and have been assigned nothing but graphic design work, which I am very unqualified for. Logos, posters, merchandise designs, etc. my supervisor sends me assignments with next to no instruction, and I’ve been having to learn things on the fly. I’ve graduated now, and he wants me to continue through the summer, however, I am uncomfortable with continuing. My grade is no longer in danger, and I’m certain that a graphic design student would provide him with far better quality work, and get more out of it than I. I’m uncertain of how I should bring this up to him. Should I resign? Should I grin and bear it?

  • 2
    Highly related: I feel unqualified for my job - what is the right thing to do? Commented May 23, 2020 at 14:09
  • If your unhappy don't resign, because you probably won't get a different job... even if your manager is unhappy with your work.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 1:49
  • Grin and bear it answers this question, and I'm sorry to say it, but probably every next one you'll have for quite some time.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 1:51

4 Answers 4


You do not take or leave jobs based on what is best for the employer. You take or leave jobs based on what is best for you. It appears that you are at least ok at graphic design. Others might be better, but you're meeting this client's needs. You probably have some other skills, like listening to what the client wants or accepting change requests, that are better than other students this client has employed before. They might make you, overall, a better employee than any previous one. Perhaps that's why you've been offered the summer job.

But that doesn't matter. You have graduated and you need a job. You'd like a job as a photographer. You don't really want a job as a graphic designer. In a normal economy, maybe you would say "no thankyou" to this and go look for a photographer job. But this is not a normal economy, and a bird in the hand . . .

I would go to your boss and say something like this:

I'm really proud that even though I didn't major in graphic design, you like my work enough to want more of it. I don't know if [college chairwoman] was clear when we set up this short-notice position, I majored in photography. And I would really like to be able to do some as part of my next job. I like working for you and I'm doing my best. If I take this job, could we include some photography work in it?

This way you would see a variety of work -- graphic design, photography, maybe other stuff too -- and learn how the business works. It could be an amazing opportunity with an employer who already thinks highly of you.

The last thing you want to do is walk away from an opportunity like that because you think you know better than the employer whether they are getting their money's worth! That's his decision. Ask for what you want (photography work) and you just might get it.

  • 8
    Whole answer is good but I'd have upvoted even if you had stopped after "You do not take or leave jobs based on what is best for the employer. You take or leave jobs based on what is best for you. It appears that you are at least ok at graphic design" A-freaking-men
    – Kevin
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 20:09

"Internship you're not qualified for."

This is a possibility in vacuum... for someone the boss hasn't worked with before.

This isn't a possibility for you. Why? Because the boss has worked with you before, has liked the quality of your work, and wants to keep you onboard.

This isn't a question of whether you're not qualified. You absolutely, positively are: the manager has seen your work and likes it and wants to continue having you do it. The only issue is: do you want the job? I mean, you can certainly decide 'I want to be a photographer, not a graphic designer, and this job might take me out of the path I have in mind for my career'. And you could certainly turn down the job for that reason.

But... don't turn it down because you think you're unqualified. Take it, continue learning as much as you can with as much passion as you can, and prove your boss right for hiring you.


If you already have something better lined up in late May 2020, with the semester over and most summer jobs begun, then by all means take the better option. "Better" meaning demonstrable improvements in your skill, demonstrable improvements in your references and networking, or demonstrable improvements in pay and/or benefits.

You have the benefit of being a student, so you are not expected to keep full employment. Future employers will not question "And what were you doing during the summer of 2020?" If self-directed photography study will yield you demonstrable increases in your skills, by all means go for it.

Being paid for "Learning things on the fly" is a good situation to be in. It's good to learn to deal with unplanned challenges.

Four months of one successful internship is good on a resume, but four months followed by actually being hired is very good. A good situation to be in is to have a current employer who very much wants to keep you, and will offer you increased pay and benefits in order to keep you from moving on. My answer comes from an assumption of working long-term in an office environment. You might become a freelance photographer or another role where you don't have to keep toeing the line of office expectations, such that "increased pay and benefits" isn't a consideration.


You've got a paying job, which A) puts you in a better position when applying for other jobs, and B) means you're NOT sitting around wondering where the rent's going to come from (unless you're living at home in your parent's basement/your old room/etc). Stay where you are and do the work - which BTW your supervisor is apparently quite happy with, unless he's said otherwise - and

  1. Tell you boss you'd like to work in the field you're really interested in, while you also
  2. Look for another job

Maybe he/she will listen, maybe not. Maybe your boss can give you stuff you're more interested in, maybe not. Try asking - it'll get you more in this world than quietly (or not) being annoyed.

When you show up at any new job you're going to have to scramble to learn the requirements of that job. Regardless of how long you've been in the workforce and have been getting "experience" in a particular field there's always that several-week stretch at the beginning where you don't know what's going on, who to talk to about what, don't know the tools, don't know where the bathroom is, etc, blah. That is totally normal - get used to it. At your current job you've proved you can do that - so, good, that's one more thing to mention in job interviews. "Got internship, was assigned work I knew nothing about, learned how to do it on the fly" - great stuff to mention.

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