I'm in one week in my unpaid internship of six weeks in marketing. I already made a post about how I thought I was a bad intern, but after looking at others posts something bothered me.

A lot of people here are saying that an unpaid intern should be here to learn more than anything, and not do something that a paid worker do.

For now, I'm not saying I did that kind of work: most of my time was about researching and building a research file. But some things that my supervisor told me are staying with me.

On my first day, he told me he wouldn't consider me as a student, but as a professional. The meaning behind it I understood was: ''You're going to work here and I'll judge you like someone not in training.'' When he told me that, it kind of surprised me, I'll say.

And the projects I will work on are, well, huge. I'll participate in the production and writing of podcasts for the corporation: a new publicity, you see. He told me I would be the one writing the Presentation report, and this presentation report needs to sell the idea to the one buying the publicity. Basically, if I write shit, his project is a flop.

If it works, I'll probably write most of the podcasts, or what is needed to write. It's a big marketing project and, even if he supervises it, he told me my work would be the center of it.

All of these projects are urgent, like in the next two or three weeks, and the production didn't even start. I never done something like that before. (I'm not even in marketing, I'm in redaction.)

Like, am I imagining things or do he intends to pitch me in something too big for someone in training? Not even a junior, just an unpaid intern. I'll do it if it's still his intend, but I don't want to be overwhelmed by something out of my capacities.

  • I understand you're under a lot of pressure, so how can we best help you?
    – colbin8r
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:08
  • 1
    What's the location? If you're in the US, there are laws regarding what you can and cannot be asked to do as an unpaid intern.
    – Herb
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:15
  • I would recommend you avoid using the phrase "out of my capacities" as much as possible. Believe in yourself. (I'm not saying to ignore your limits as a human, but you should believe that you are capable of tackling any obstacle given time and resources.)
    – 2rs2ts
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:34
  • An aside: unpaid internships are totally unethical. Sorry to hear you got shafted on pay you need and deserve.
    – 2rs2ts
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 22:39
  • @HerbWolfe not in the US, in Canada! 2rs2ts Yeah I'll try to ahah. Felt like I was more a burden than anything last week, but I'll repeat to myself that I still have great capacities. And ahah, I would've preferred to be paid! But there are credits for my college, so there's that!
    – Browniiesx
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


Be glad you are doing something more important than getting coffee but don't feel overwhelmed by the importance of your tasks.

You aren't necessarily getting the whole truth here. Don't be surprised if there is a backup plan in case your work is a flop. If I were to put an intern in a situation to generate a remotely important deliverable I'd likely leave enough time to completely rewrite it if it was unacceptable. People don't generally make it very far in management without a grasp of contingency planning. This sort of pitch may be a half day for an experienced professional, so the 2-3 weeks timeframe might be lots of time.

Based on your comment maybe this will be learning experience for an inexperienced manager. Success of this project is something you contribute to not something you own. If the project deliverables are deficient because there is no contingency plan for intern work that is a management failure not a failure of the intern.

Do your best and learn as much as you can from this challenge. Also be appreciative that you are getting some hands on industry experience even if it is a skill stretch for you.

  • The 2-3 weeks timeframe is more like for whole pilot to be done. The presentation project is surely for the debut of next week. I'll see when he talk to me about it. And yeah, I hope they have! But it's been less than one year the guy is a manager here, and it seems he pretty much alone with another person and me on this project. I'll see when it starts!
    – Browniiesx
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:16
  • @Browniiesx Updated answer in relation to your comment.
    – Myles
    Commented Aug 16, 2017 at 14:17

Should you expect to work on real projects in an internship? Well, yes, that's what good internships are for: it's much better to have a real-world project with real-world deliverables than some little toy sandbox to play in that will be discarded after your internship is over. This way you get real-world experience of dealing with real-world problems, which looks great on a CV when you're applying for a real paid job some day.

And with all due respect, "participate in the production and writing of podcasts" does not sound like what I'd call a "huge" responsibility that will make or break the company. It's also important to remember that the ultimate responsibility for the work assigned to you lies with your manager, not you: if they have actually given you something that's mission critical and beyond your abilities, it's their problem if you can't deliver. Your responsibilities are to 1) try your best, and 2) keep your manager updated regarding your progress, especially if you're running into any kind of trouble.

  • Thanks for the input! I think then it's going to be reasonable. It's much more like he wants me to write the presentation report, which is the main key to sell the project, which he's very fond of. It's not breaking the company, but he presented it to me that the project in itself would fail if I don't do it right. For the other, well, like you said, it's their problem if I can't deliver something critical, but it's a bummer when you don't meet their expectations. I just need to repeat that I'm an intern, I haven't done any of the things he asked me to do, failing is normal.
    – Browniiesx
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 23:12

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