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I recently got my first internship at a software company entering my junior year of college. It's been a good learning experience, but a terrible overall experience. In the beginning I tried asking questions, coming in early, staying late and turning in code to the best of my abilities.

As the summer went on, I realized I'm a ghost. We have meetings every day and I say I have nothing to do and they just move on and ignore that. I've been staring at a terminal screen for hours on end trying to brush up code that I've already turned in, reading docs about computers to continue my learning process, etc. I've officially got the feeling that I'm that intern that's just there and people are semi annoyed with my presence.

I have 3 weeks left and I want to figure out how to turn this terrible daily activity into a fulfilling intern experience. How can I get my lab mates to like me more?

I am feeling extremely disadvantaged because my knowledge and the work they do is way, way over my head and the other intern is at a grad level, making me look even more incompetent. I'm a very hard worker, but the awkwardness and isolation is leaving me wrecked.

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    Please read this, then edit your question. – user8036 Jul 21 '15 at 8:11
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Don't get yourself down. Yes, you are in the weakest position in that team. But you signed a contract and dedicate them your time. So you should at least be told what you can do in that timespan. If your manager does not assign you any work, do a lot of reading. If you are unsure what would be valuable for you or your future employer, try to ask a coworker. Lunch is a great time to ask such questions. "Hey, by the way, when you started here, what was the first thing you had to learn?"

Try to do a little bit of smalltalk about what it takes to be a perfect junior employee in that company. Maybe that coworker has some tips about tutorials or example codes for you which you can go through.

Just a side note: A company totally ignoring an intern may not be the greatest place to work. I have experienced that also in the past. If they ignore you as an intern, you will not get much more training and attention as a newly employed coworker.

  • Thanks for the reply. It's a big company, so the group I'm in was just a bad fit. I have 12 work days left, so I will try my best to make the most of it. Thanks. – CuriousFellow Jul 22 '15 at 20:27
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If they actively disliked you, you'd be out on the pavement on your butt. Fact is, they have nothing for you to do that's at your level, and you're pretty close to useless for the tasks that need doing. You could volunteer to write documentation, as documentation is usually a neglected area. You could look around and volunteer to do some low-skill but time consuming tasks that take time out of the team's lives. Frankly, you are in a "I have to create my own job" situation.

The most important thing you can do for the team at the moment is to get out of their way. And the most important thing you can do for your manager is to get out of their face. You are already doing that, thankfully.

You have three weeks to go. You can put that time to use by going over what you don't know and need to know in order to be a fully functional member of the team. If you get out of this internship without knowing what it is that you don't know and need to know, then you haven't learned a damn thing from your internship.

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    I strongly disagree with that sentence: "The most important thing you can do for the team at the moment is to get out of their way. And the most important thing you can do for your manager is to get out of their face". Yes, he is an intern. Yes, he is ridiculously cheap, Yes, he has nothing to say as an intern. BUT: They have hired him, (maybe) pay money to him and should at least pretend to give him work. It would be sufficient to tell him what he should be reading. – jwsc Jul 21 '15 at 12:00
  • @jwsc Don't preach to me, tell them. They pay the bills including their intern's salary, so they get to run their show any way they want. Fair or unfair, it's up to the OP to figure out how to be valuable to the team. Because the team doesn't look like they have a clue what to do with the OP. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 21 '15 at 14:20
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    You are right, telling you will change nothing. I was just intimidated from that phrase. It read to me like "OP, go out of their way", which is a advice I do not find appropriate. – jwsc Jul 21 '15 at 14:34
  • @jwsc Appropriate or not, the OP is acting according to my advice and if I were his manager, that's a good thing to me. The next step for the OP is to find ways to be helpful to the team and to figure out what he doesn't know that he needs to know so that he can decide what he has to do to learn what he needs to know. Under ordinary circumstances, the manager would have worked out what the intern has to do before the intern ever showed up for work but I have had interns parachuted on me. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 21 '15 at 14:41

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