Intern Life

Set Boundaries with Your Boss

There are few things more rewarding for a college student than tacking an internship onto the resume. After networking your way to meaningful professional relationships (or slogging through commuter traffic), you’ve earned it.

So why is your boss still calling you?

The unfortunate reality is that interns often complete menial tasks for an organization. Just the term ‘intern’ is inherently telling – a surefire way to notify everyone in the office that you’ll do any project that slides across your desk. Should you be eager to take on anything? One-thousand percent yes –  for the duration of the internship.   Your responsibility to your employer applies for the time period you’ve mutually committed to – nothing more, nothing less.

To clarify: this isn’t about skating by on the bare minimum – there will always be interns who aren’t truly invested in the experience (though I have an inkling our readers are not those people.) If you want to make the most of your internship, respect yourself enough to set boundaries with your boss.

If a former supervisor stepped over the line habitually, keep in mind these tips for your next internship.

Lock in a schedule.
Many internships offer flexible hours – that doesn’t mean your availability has to be  all   hours. Avoid telling the line-stepper types “My calendar’s wide open!” or “I’ll be here anytime you need me!” Establish an agreed-upon schedule from the get-go, and stick to it.

Start your day early.
Just about every career expert out there recommends working after close to demonstrate a commitment to the internship and the company – but doesn’t getting a jump on the day demonstrate the same thing?  If a line-stepper insists you stay late, make it clear that you have a prior engagement and you’ll be up with the sun to finish the project tomorrow.

Dish out enthusiasm in moderation.
Remain eager when you’re assigned a project, but don’t overcompensate. Most bosses will think you’re full of it, but the line-steppers of the world may think you  enjoy   burning the midnight oil.

Maintain a firm stance when it comes to your cell phone.
It may seem like a minor concession, but line-stepping supervisors  will  call you after hours. If you sense that your boss might take advantage of that information, a simple “I don’t give my number to anyone but family” will politely suffice.

How have you set boundaries with your boss?

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Suzanne De Vita

Suzanne De Vita is an online editor and content producer. Exceptionally vocal, she’s often found belting “The Star-Spangled Banner” or chanting “Roll Tide!” at her television. Her greatest loves are The Temptations, barnyard animals and cajun cuisine. She’s contributed to Chicken Soup for the Soul and the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans, and received her BA from Quinnipiac University.