I just interned for a company and have had a horrible experience. This is my first internship and my supervisor was not good at managing me (with one of the C-Suite and HR even telling me that he was not a good supervisor. This is his first time supervising someone).

I have received my evaluation back and I feel absolutely horrible about myself and scared. In this evaluation, my supervisor believes I'm not ready for the workforce. A lot of thee criticisms include not understanding how to do tasks when first told (tbh he's not very clear so I have to ask a second time), asking too many questions, and acting in unprofessional behavior (I do believe I was unprofessional. There was a point in time where he didn't give me any work at my internship cause he thought I wasn't smart enough to handle it by myself. I got very quiet the next few weeks and I can understand that I need to change my behavior for that).

To go in depth,my supervisor throughout this entire process has just not been supporting me well. He expected me to understand how everything worked the first day and expected that I would be smart enough to handle everything myself (direct quotes...). He didn't really train me on what to do. He was very busy (understandable) to the point where he didn't want to train me. He didn't know half of what I was supposed to be doing during the internship and gave me nothing to do some days... He sort of didn't plan out the project I had to do for my internship (HR was a bit annoyed by that when I told him my supervisor didnt give me a project). Lastly, he just felt like I lacked knowledge in the field I was interning in (this is a business oriented internship) because I was making mistakes and asking questions (he told me that I needed to focus and stop screwing up...).

I understand that he is busy and this may not give the full picture, but I feel absolutely horrified and scared. Throughout the internship, I struggled and had errors. I had to ask a lot of questions cause I was scared I was going to mess up everything. Everyone from my work came in with high expectations cause I came from a "good university" and expected me to know how to do everything (quote by supervisor again...). But now this has really scared me. My supervisor believes that I'm just a horrible worker and although I understand it has to do with his poor management, I am scared there's a problem with me. Do I ask too many questions? Am I just a slow person? I'm scared that maybe I'm not smart enough for an internship. Can anyone offer tips/advice? This experience has really messed me up, especially the evaluation. I know it may be hard to explain the situation cause none of you all are there. But I just really wonder if there's also a problem with me??? I spoke to HR about this at the end of my internship and he does agree that my supervisor is not a good manager. But at the same time, Im also scared that I"m just not good at just the workforce in general... I ask too many questions. I'm not good enough for real tasks. I'm not independent enough... I'm also scared how this will affect my future job applications if HR calls them for a reference... Can anyone please help?

My goal is to avoid impacts to my future career. What should I do in order to avoid that?

  • Thank you so much for the reply. I was in tears yesterday and I"ve just been so overwhelmed. This was my supervisor's first time managing someone so I guess HR didn't expect him to be so bad.
    – Jane
    Aug 12, 2017 at 11:47
  • You didn't ask too many questions. You had an awful supervisor who claimed you asked too many questions. These are two totally different things. Just because he made that claim doesn't mean it is true. When a bad supervisor says "you are asking too many questions", your thought shouldn't be "I'm asking too many questions", it should be "f*** you too".
    – gnasher729
    Aug 12, 2017 at 12:01
  • Thank you so much. I'm feeling a lot better now. I know my story may seem biased on my part but he literally did put that statement on my evaluation sheet along with the other stuff I mentioned before.
    – Jane
    Aug 12, 2017 at 12:06
  • 1
    Just to be clear - if your supervisor's boss did not attempt to help or mentor their direct report (your supervisor), that's terrible management, too. They could have just said, "hey, let's go over the evaluation together first since this is your first time filling one out," where they could have helped fix it before you ever saw it. You've learned an awful lot of red flags in your first job experience (like the warning from executives and HR that they didn't do anything about), which will be valuable later on. Don't automatically take everything they said to heart!
    – BrianH
    Aug 12, 2017 at 18:42
  • Yea that is definitely true... What the heck.. Honestly, I'm just ... I will just use the HR as a reference for a LAST case scenario if anything... (the hr likes me as a person but im not sure if my supervisor telling the HR bad stuff about me will affect what they say).. I don't ever want to affiliate with thisi company ever again...
    – Jane
    Aug 14, 2017 at 0:30

6 Answers 6


In all honesty it sounds like your manager failed to understand what an intern is. He expected you to know what you were doing day one and criticized you for asking too many questions?! Seriously? It sounds like he was treating you like an experienced worker who had done this in the past. Even then, any manager who discourages employees from asking questions when they need to is doing management wrong, IMHO. You mentioned this was his first time supervising, so hopefully he'll learn and improve in the future.

Maybe you made some mistakes along the way, that's only natural, especially with poor guidance from leadership positions. As long as you learned from them and can improve in the future, I wouldn't worry about that at all. The majority of the sins here are on your manager, not you. The biggest lesson to take away from this experience is what flags to watch for in new jobs that might identify a toxic or hostile workplace, so you don't waste your time going through this sort of thing again.

If the company sends an evaluation back to the university for your time there, it might be a bad one, because this guy is filling out the forms. There's not much you can do about that. Just try to avoid trash talking him in interviews for future placements. If asked why the evaluation at your last place was so low, say things like "it wasn't a good fit" or "we didn't see eye-to-eye on some procedures" and otherwise focus on the idea that you made some mistakes but you learned from them and will do better next time.

No interviewer wants to hear you speak poorly of past managers, even if it's true, because it begs the question how you might speak about them after you move on from their company. It's not fair, having to eat crow like this when the majority of the problem was on your supervisor, but it's the way the world works sometimes.


No manager should ever call someone stupid directly or indirectly, that is abusive management from a very immature and poor manager. The point of being a supervisor/manager is to help grow the people who are under you into the their best potential, thus producing better quality work and a better team dynamic to accomplish work in.

So with the complete failure of the supervisor/manager out of the way lets address internships.

Internships are a chance for someone with little to no experience get their feet wet the industry and also a chance for the company to try out the potential employee and see if it's a good fit. Sometimes these completely bomb and sometimes they go really well not to mention everything in between. Clearly someone who has little to no experience will have a ton of questions and not know what they are doing.

  1. I love excessive questions from interns as it shows a desire to learn and an motivation to understand. It also helps the supervisor know how much the intern actually does know and help them figure out the best ways to mentor them.
  2. I never "expect" and intern to do a job that directly connects to company profit. Usually an intern is helping to research or work on something that facilitates the team in their efforts, but not directly delivering anything without senior employees involved.
  3. Interns should be involved with a team as well and not isolated. Interns need to learn not only the job, but team dynamics within the job to develop into a strong employee.

As you mentioned you didn't get any of the above at the internship I consider it a failed internship. If you don't have a positive reference just leave it off entirely and start over. It sucks, but it's better than getting a negative from a situation that you weren't given an opportunity to succeed in. Don't take this one to heart, there will be more positive in the future, continue to learn and work hard and it will eventually only be a bad memory.


Handle this as you would handle any other workplace experience: Reflect, learn, move on.

  1. Reflect on what happened. Remove yourself and your own emotions from the experience, and evaluate the facts. What contributed to the issues? How did people's behaviors and/or the environment play a role?
  2. Learn from your reflection. How did you contribute to the issues? Are there things you need to work on, in terms of your skills or your approach to the workplace? Can you behave differently in the future in a way that helps you avoid repeating this bad situation? Similarly, in terms of the environment: Was the job and the employer a good fit for you? When you're applying for other jobs, are there warning signs you can look out for that will help you understand that other potential employers may also be a bad fit for you? Are there certain characteristics you need to look for in a boss or in an employer?
  3. Move on - if you're able to analyze and learn from the situation, and make a plan for the future, you've done all you can - we all make mistakes, we all have "bad" jobs, eventually it'll be so far behind you that it won't bother you any more. As long as you're learning and growing from the experience, you've done the best you can, and there's no point in fixating on the issues any further.

I think it would help to know what country you are in. My first job out of University was at a large multinational corporation HQ'd in Japan, and I had a very similar experience (not quite as demoralizing as yours, but a lot of the same themes, e.g. too many questions, not enough experience, not professional enough, etc). Fortunately for you, your experience was only an internship so you had an end date to deal with it; for me, it was a full-time job and went very poorly indeed. Consider it a lesson learned that you learned earlier rather than later, because learning it later sucks a lot more, let me tell you! And fortunately for me, when I returned home to Canada after leaving Japan, my first job was much more accommodating and helpful; I learned more in 2 weeks at that company than I did the entire year I was in Japan.

As for what to do about it:

1) As others have said, the fact that you didn't know enough going into the job is on your manager, not on you. Your manager doesn't understand what an "intern" is. You're supposed to gain this sort of experience during your internship, and it's your boss's job to make sure you get it. The fact that you didn't is a failure on him, not on you. Nobody graduates University fully-formed as a 10-year workforce veteran who knows all the tricks and tips, and even less people enter University knowing that; everyone needs training, and for your boss to not realize that is on him not you.

2) As for asking too many questions, again, that's on him, not you. You're supposed to be inquisitive as an intern and try to learn as much as you can. Only stupid people believe there is such a thing as a stupid question, and it's on your boss to either answer your questions, or to not ask to be put on an intern supervision assignment, because being put on that sort of assignment means dealing with an intern.

3) As for not being assigned work, again, that's on your manager. He should have prepared a project for you to do. Others have sufficiently harped on this point already.

As for what you should do now:

1) Your manager was crappy, don't let that get you down. It sounds like you did everything right (or at least as right as can be expected of someone who has never had an internship before) but got caught in a bad situation. Just brush it off, and onto the next one.

2) As far as your evaluation, your manager is going to write your evaluation and it's probably going to be bad. Brace yourself for that. However, I would suggest going to your school's career centre and explain to them the situation, as you explained it here, and perhaps they can do something for you so that this experience won't permanently blacken your record for future internships. I wouldn't go to your boss or go to HR at all; I would wait to see what review you get, and if it's bad, then go to your school's career counselor and explain the situation, and they should help you out.


I know this post is old, but I totally had a recent similar experience. I was given a packet at the beginning of the internship and told to follow it from word from word. It explained briefly about the assessments that were on the patients. We did not have an hands-on licensed supervisor, instead we had her assistant most of the time. This was definitely a University internship. I seen all the red flags 4 weeks into the internship and I wanted out, immediately. I knew it was not going to end well, and it did not, as far as the eval.

You are definitely right about coming from a well-known popular school and are expected to know everything. Our treatment is more or less the same. If someone verbally abuse you and you are not getting anything out of it, then LEAVE. That is like someone is verbally abusing you in a relationship and you choose to stay, why? You are not gaining anything from staying. People did not know my motive for wanting to leave. Like, they were so oblivious to my situation! People are always wanting you to complete things, because it deals with education. Well there are things that are not worth completing if you are not growing and are constantly doubting your skills. Like seriously, that is a great time to re-evaluate to see why are you there in the first place. No one can make a decision that is best for you, but YOU! I am old enough to where I am not going to put up with someone talking down to me or putting me in a box. What makes "you" so special, that I have to tolerate your unwarranted behavior? I rather weigh my options, honey! Thank-you!

I see a common trend in this matter and it does falls on the aspect of the supervisor's incompetency! What people are failing to mention is, that it was a waste of your time and money for being in that toxic environment. Now, you cannot even acquire a letter of reference from the cite or utilize what little or no skills you recieved to even add on to your career. It wasn't like HR knew what you were doing in and out on a daily basis. Hopefully your future is more brighter and stable now!

I just added to this thread to let you know, that you are not alone! My internship gave me stress and anxiety for all of the 560 plus hours I was there and the Coronavirus did not make it better. The faculty is not going to back you up, that is why it is best to run as soon as you see the first red flag. No one deserves that kind of treatment for a long, unpaid internship with a bad evaluation to top it off, if yours were like mines. I think mines, she only had a few students under her belt, so she had time to improve. We were told to make a intern packet at the end of the internship, because she did not have one for us. If that isn't something, then I don't know what is. I want my time and money back. She can have that grade, I am good! Millennials are something else. I do not know why internships are even required for your major, it is like a coin toss, literally. Good/Bad. What supervisor allows people to leave with a bad evaluation, don't they know that this is a bad representation of their management skills. If I did not get an A in the course, this thread would have been totally different.

Note: The only thing you can control is time management, completing tasks, and mood. The rest is on their end! For future added internships/evaluations that did not go well, don't be so hard on yourself unless you knew you could have done something better. This is a learning platform ONLY! There is always room for improvement!


I really understand how you feel on this...

Yes some of the supervisors were horrible enough to ruin over your life not even the tutors from school, college or somewhere else. But did you considered what they actually expect from you?

Some other workers are with the bad supervisors too but they took it as one of the positive challenge. Only then you will know what kind of improvement or actions you should do to prevent such mistakes to be recur in your future working life since you have gained experience to overcome the same.

Scaring only prevent you from shattering the limit because you did not know how or even want to tackle the same situation. It is useless that you think it as one of the burden because same situation might come again in your future life.

Few months ago, my neighbor had been offered a job but then resigned after a month of working life on there. That moment I asked her why you leave your current job, she said her boss was unpleasant and then she refuse to resume her job anymore.

Yes some boss are not kind enough to be friendly but they have the same expections as other manager - to see them managed to shatter their limit by exercising long life learning so that productivity can be evolved. Just look at the others who don't do well in their college/school.

They really don't have good academic achievement but they are willing to continue to live the rest of their life like what the others did during their life of working. Unlike the others who have excellent academic achievements but unable to cope with stress in a righteous way. The time when I saw a news about somebody committed suicide because of huge stress caused by excessive assessment given by colleges or managers I really feel sad.

If you encounter huge stress in your life you should seek helps from others not to end up your life like this lol And this kind of thing doesn't seems strange because it always happen to everyone.

Never to feel hesitate to ask questions because that's the only way that improve your performance which will bring you to fit in beautifully. Scaring only makes you even worse since you don't dare to accept newer challenges and of course that will lower the chances of getting hired by other managers since they expect much on how employee overcome every challenges.


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