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I started my internship like 5 weeks back.Manager has no clue of what’s going on and is on PTO since the past 2 weeks (would be returning next week) . Mentor is some architecht level guy who has no clue of the tech stack I am working on (its JS and React,he is a Java/Kotlin guy) and he is not even part of my manager’s team(he is under the same org as my manager and both report to the same person) . He fricking asks me to do stuff which is not even doable in the given time frame which is like 3 weeks more(judging by the domain knowledge I have and the application he is asking me to make) So he asked me to make an API authoring tool like [stoplight.io]just coz it costs 225$ per person if the company tries to get a license .

Initially I was freaking out as to how I am gonna go about building it , the first 2-3 weeks were real bad as even the UI design was on me(he was like use that stoplight application as a reference and build it) but the form itself was so complex but somehow i made it . Also there’s no code review or anything with a senior engineer , not that I am writing bad code but its just that maybe we can do X stuff in a better way . Furthermore [stoplight.io] in its own is such a complex application itself and I am overwhelmed/surprised that my mentor wants me to build it all alone .

Honestly I don’t think I will be able to build it in like the next 3 weeks (I will try my best no doubt but still its very complicated for me and i am overwhelmed by it) . I am concerned about my mid internship review and FTE , I wonder on what basis my manager would decide on taking me for FT, It would be very very unfair if he would go to my mentor and ask as it would not even make sense .I wrote so much , struggled my way through and build whatever has been done till now. Manager is managing interns for the first time in his career(he himself said that and i can see that now) , until now there have been no one on one’s . I feel its not fair to give such a huge task to an intern and it seems like the mentor did not research what issues could be faced , how does that application work and stuff.

Everyday I feel anxious and stressed out . l feel overworked too . Any advices would be really helpful.

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    I don't really have any advice, but I would say, having been on the other side of the equation, sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to find work appropriate for an intern, so sometimes they will be given stuff that is a big beyond their ability and with timeframes that seem a bit short. I would just be honest with your supervisor and explain what you think can be done. It's possible they will be happy with a small subset of functionality. Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 23:57
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    Can you please add a country tag? "internship" is a word used for many, many different work-placement schemes around the world and they have vastly different requirements and expectations. An answer written with best intentions for one country could be totally wrong for another.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 4:30
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    I'm sorry to hear you're still having a rough time. You asked the same question, in a more careful way, a week ago. The answers were: slow down, communicate clearly, work deliberately. This question is rather more ragged. If you want new advice, you'll need to show why the last round didn't work. But maybe better again would be to talk to a friend, and read through the last round of advice with them. Being in a stress spinlock is not going to get you a job.
    – Adam Burke
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 7:39
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    Is it the same question as a week ago, though, @GregoryCurrie?
    – Adam Burke
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 12:06
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    @AdamBurke A main point of advice was "work fewer hours". It seems OP didn't follow this and has deteriorated over the last two weeks
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 12:29

3 Answers 3

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Based on the level of writing, grammar, punctuation, and so on in this post, I am going to assume English is not your first language. Based on that, my first inclination is to believe you may be having a miscommunication with your manager (if you work in English). It is not feasible to build a piece of software that licenses for $225 in 8 weeks as an intern with no team or guidance, it's simply not. So you should go to your manager and ask very specific, very pointed questions. Here's how you should go about it:

Firstly, explain to your manager that English is not your first language, and it's possible you've misunderstood some requirements. You would like to ask him some very specific questions about the project, and you would like very short, very unambiguous, very simple answers. The questions are:

  1. Is this a project he is intending you to complete, or is this a project he is intending you to start, which will be completed in the future by someone else? If the latter, how much work is he expecting you to complete? Is there a benchmark or is it "just do as much as you can as best as you can"?

  2. Is this project supposed to be written on your tech stack (JS/React) or on your mentor's tech stack (Java/Kotlin)? If the former, presumably the company has someone who is going to maintain this application once you're gone; can you have that person as your mentor instead of the person who is mentoring you now?

  3. Who can you lean on for help with learning and mentorship in terms of coding skill? "Just Google it" is an acceptable answer for a full time employee in the upper-junior or intermediate level, but not for a junior engineer and CERTAINLY not for an intern. As an intern, your goal for being there is to learn something, and you want to know what it is you're going to be learning, how you're going to be learning it, and who's going to be teaching you. If any of those answers are "Google", then this internship is a waste of time.

Make sure you get very simple answers, and if any of the answers don't make sense, ask followup questions, don't just assume you understand, because probably you don't. Until you are absolutely 100% crystal clear, in no uncertain terms, of what the requirements are, keep asking followup questions. A followup question might be something like this:

You: Am I supposed to write this application in JS or Java?
Manager: JS.
You: But MENTOR doesn't know JS, how is he supposed to mentor me?
Manager: He's not going to be very hands-on with you.
You: But he's my mentor, how can he be my mentor without being hands-on?
Manager: He's mostly doing his own work, you're mostly doing your own. He's tracking your work.
You: ... (etc)

Another example:

You: You've asked me to reproduce a piece of production-level software which costs $225 for a license. Is that correct?
Manager: Uh, who told you that?
You: MENTOR told me that. Did he tell me wrong?
Manager: Yes, he told you wrong. We want you to build Fizzbuzz and a fun interface for it to show to the elementary school down the road.
You: That seems rather simple and I can do it in 1 day. What else am I doing for my internship?
Manager: Oh, we work with a lot of these elementary schools. We have more projects for you after that.
You: ...(etc)

Ask all the questions you can and get all the answers you can to know the parameters of your internship. Then work to fulfill them.

Here's the other thing: As an intern, you're probably not being paid a competitive wage. You're likely making a significantly smaller amount than even a junior engineer. The reason for this is because you are not expected to perform at the same level as even a junior engineer. For even a junior engineer, their responsibility is to produce. For an intern, your responsibility is to learn, and secondarily to produce if you can. So you should act like that. Spend your time learning, take it slow, do a good job. Ask lots of questions and try to get as much feedback as you can. And absolutely foremost, do not work more than you have to, and do not stress yourself more than you have to. You aren't being paid enough to deal with this much stress. This type of stress is above your pay grade, so act like it. You will do what you will do, and that's what you will do. And if that's good, fine, and if not, fine. Either way, no stress.

As for converting to FT: Think about it this way: You're an underpaid intern who has no responsibility. They're treating you like this. How do you think they treat their employees who actually have responsibility? Do you really want to work for such a company anyway? Do you want to deal with this level of stress, and more, for the entire rest of your life? Is that enjoyable for you? Consider that, and then ask yourself: Is it worth it trying to work so hard to get FT at such a company, that will make you hate your life for the next 20 or 30 years you're working there? If not, then who cares if you get FT or not? There's plenty of companies to work at, you don't have to get FT at this one.

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    This is a fantastic answer. Study it carefully and follow it. I would only add that I suggest you be careful to stay professional in the conversation. Despite any feelings of frustration, keep to the facts
    – Alex K
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 3:54
  • The company might be fine but just not a fit for the OP. It sounds like they might prefer structured work and highly involved management. Others will prefer general direction, light oversight, and being given a free hand to solve problems in new technologies.
    – Adam Burke
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 8:33
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You posted before. You got advice. The main advice was "no more than 40 hours a week" if I remember right. Did you follow that advice? If no, why not? You seem to have deteriorated since your previous question. That's exactly what happens when you work too much.

Here's the big question: Is your manager aware of all of this? I can imagine him sitting there and thinking "we got the most brilliant intern ever, he'll finish this project in three weeks time which I thought was impossible.". And he will be totally surprised when you have nothing in three weeks.

So TALK TO HIM. Urgently. Very urgently. Your manager needs to know what is going on. 99% chance that he will solve your problem and just say "why didn't you come earlier". One percent chance that this is a company you should avoid at all cost in the future. What he wants looks impossible. But he won't know if nobody tells him. So TELL HIM.

Your problem has nothing to do with the work. It has everything to do with communicating with your manager and fixing his unrealistic expectations. If you complain to us instead of your manager, he won't know and he can't fix anything.

PS. After reading your comment. Rcoder, you asked for advice twice. Can you please try to get it into your head that this is advice from people with long working lives, people who have seen it all, and people who know how the working environment works?

“How can I convey…” Simple. You go to your boss and say “it’s impossible”. Thats it. Monday morning. Or if he’s not in the office, by email. Problem solved. Or you wait three weeks. And your manager will say “Why didn’t you come earlier”, and you are fired. Right now you are like an ostrich sticking your head in the sand. That’s not going to work. The fact that you don’t deliver can be ignored since your task looks impossible. The fact that you don’t tell anyone, that is unforgivable. You could have long ago been switched to some task that is achievable.

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  • The thing is there's another intern under him with me and I am afraid that it might impact some future decisions in regards to me. Also how should i convey to him that this is not possible in 3 weeks time in a subtle yet positive way. he is on an international travel(PTO) since 2nd july and would be back next friday :( .
    – RCoder
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 14:23
  • Rcoder, you asked for advice twice. Can you please try to get it into your head that this is advice from people with long working lives, people who have seen it all, and people who know how the working environment works? “How can I convey…” Simple. You go to him and say “it’s impossible”. Thats it. Monday morning
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 14:29
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So you have an interface that looks like Stoplight Studio, and you have three weeks. You cannot possibly build even a part of Stoplight Studio in three weeks.

What you must do is write a complete functional specification of the code required to support the interface you now have. Learn what Stoplight Studio provides and specify what the application would have to do to provide that. Don't worry about actually writing any code, just a complete functional spec.

At the end of three weeks, submit the specification to to your manager, who will be returned by then. Tell him that the job requires a software team, not an intern, but this what the team must build. Offer to hire and lead the team. (Don't worry. They won't really let you do it.)

When your internship is completed, call Aaron Jones or Jason Harmon over at Stoplight and show them the specification. Even if they don't offer you a job, they might introduce you to people who will help you manage your career.

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    I would not recommend spending three weeks sitting on some work. It's best to go bacl to whomever if supervising you for more immediate feedback. Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 7:38
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    ... or it could be a misunderstanding by a stressed intern with limited management oversight, who shouldn't spend three weeks writing a spec for a product that wasn't asked for and won't be built.
    – Adam Burke
    Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 12:09

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