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Chemistry Internship help

  1. Mar 24, 2016 #1
    I am an undergraduate chemistry student. The school won't provide the list of companies, it's a DIY to look for companies where I could practice my chemistry..fine by me though it's difficult in my country.

    I had my 1st internship in a chemical company. I stayed there for about almost a month doing encoding of everything, and their last year's data than "laboratory" which I'm supposed to do. I quit when I was asked to do photocopying of some manuals. It's out of job description, I had enough.

    After 3 weeks, I had my 2nd internship in a research institute. My supervisors there keep on complaining to their boss that I was comparing his experiments with the one in my school (Well he is a pharmacists, I'm a chemist intern). I told him I can't see the pink endpoint he is referring to or but when I do he would just shrug it off. Also due to lack of sleep (I have night class the day before), I had a typo of "one" wrong data like "82" instead of "28" then I get reported again. Why can't they just correct me instead of reporting me immediately? Its my 3rd week today, I felt like I'm wasting my 11 hours a day there (I swear to stay overtime on my own), they won't even give me a proper task (they would just ask me to do encoding again/weighing of 20 vials). If they gave me one, I would be done within 30 minutes even an average person can do it. I no longer give any comments because I find them spineless. They should tell things to my face.

    I feel like changing my internship. Am I being too choosy?
    What should I do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2016 #2


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    Are these your first internships? Presumably you have no qualifications and no experience in your field? And you quit because you were asked to do some photocopying?
    It sounds like you have unrealistic expectations, administrative tasks are part of nearly all professional careers, deal with it or change your path. You may have relevant technical skills but you'll never get to use them if people don't want to work with you, which is the impression I get from reading your post..
  4. Mar 25, 2016 #3
    Have you ever worked before? Even like a part-time job not related to your degree at all?
  5. Mar 25, 2016 #4
    Yes, I've been a liaison officer, a theater staff, and a curator. (outside and unrelated to my field/school)
    I have also assisted directors from where I worked at.

    Most of my colleagues actually did an actual experiment in the laboratory.
    I am confident that I have the skills, and experience.
    My point is, 'Why am I doing administrative tasks all day long? Shouldn't I be working in the laboratory?'
    I'm the type who never settles for something pointless. I actually did whatever they ask me to do.
    This is the problem why people never gets their job done because they go to work they didn't enjoy.
    It's like studying medicine, but ended up working as a hospital clerk.
    I never mean to be rude to them but is it bad to make some comments or suggestions??
    (Don't get me wrong, I am still at the point of learning, and I am curious.)
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  6. Mar 25, 2016 #5


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    It needs to be done and you've been told to do it? You've called it pointless, maybe others have perceived how you think you're above menial tasks and feel entitled to the interesting work (for reasons not shared in this thread) and are subtly showing you that's not true. Or maybe it's simply that the most junior employee always does that task?

    Depends on how you phrase it and how you've read the person you're making the suggestion to.
    This is where interpersonal skills are critical, you need to judge if it's in your best interest to share your thoughts and ideas, some people will be impressed by your effort and think better of you, others may feel threatened or insulted and want you gone. You need to be tactful, perceptive and responsive.
  7. Mar 25, 2016 #6
    Well, for my 1st internship, what is done is done.
    Actually they don't have any structured program for the likes of me there (I mean the chemistry internship).
    So somehow I could understand their view. I overheard that it was their first time taking someone in.
    Too bad, at least, the company and I both learned a lesson.
    For me, the feeling of regrets and being unemployed, and them, taking importance of their interns. (probably? since they are trying to recruit me).
    I'd rather taste the bittersweet feeling of failure firsthand than experiencing it later in life.

    Probably, maybe I lack in the department of being perceptive.
    I always look so serious, quiet, and aloof so I tend to give off some vibe.
    (I once got called on stage, and everybody went silent as I walk & wait for my response..I find that hilarious because I had no idea what's going on..that kind of vibe)
    I'll work on that. Thanks.
  8. Mar 25, 2016 #7


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    You quit when you were asked to photocopy manuals? Maybe there's more to the story than you're conveying here, because on the surface that seems ridiculous. Asking an intern to do some photocopying or other administrative work is perfectly reasonable.

    Remember, that an internships is a two-way street. As an intern you get to learn about the business. But the company gets things out of it to, including labour and the opportunity to evaluate a potential employee later on.

    It's fine if you're comparing this work for you own interest, but people usually complain about this kind of behaviour only when it becomes annoying or distracting. When you're invited to observe someone else working, you can ask questions, but if you second-guess everything that person does, they won't want you around.

    It would seem the central issue here is that you need more sleep if a lack of it is specifically causing you to make errors. I agree that often it's more appropriate to correct a person than report him or her, but a lot can depend on context. There are some instances where an obvious mistake can have significant consequences - costing the company money or introducing the potential for someone to get injured, for example. And when something is a repeated pattern rather than an isolated incident, it warrants feedback.

    That's the thing with internships. You're not in much control over what you're asked to do. At some point if you don't feel that you're getting the learning experience out of the position that you were hoping for, you can and should talk to your supervisor about it. But if you've only been there for two weeks they might just be trying to figure out to what degree they can trust you. I don't have much experience with chemical companies, but I suspect that doing "proper" tasks as you define them also involves using potentially dangerous chemicals or expensive equipment. After only two weeks, you're really still just a kid off the street to them. And to be honest, it sounds like you haven't exactly impressed anyone.

    Is there anything you can do to facilitate the direct feedback you seek? It's a dangerous slope to characterize the people you work with so harshly. Maybe you could invite honest assessments of your performance so far and feedback on how to improve? You could tell your supervisors that you would like more responsibilities or whatever the "proper" tasks are and figure out what they need to see from you in order to get those assignments.
  9. Mar 25, 2016 #8
    Hi Choppy, yup there's more to the story.
    Anyway, thanks for the direct answers. I'll see to it that I observe everything as much as possible.
    I bet I need to cool down, and let things sink in properly.
    Your answers are taken in consideration. I start to view things differently now.
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