THE BLOG
09/10/2014 05:55 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2014

How to Handle an Internship That Isn't What You Expected

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This blog post was written by Intern Queen Campus Ambassador Jackie O'Shaughnessy of UNC - Chapel Hill.

As college students, many of us spend our time scouring the Internet in search of the perfect internship -- one that will teach us, challenge us, or even land us a dream job. But what happens when your internship doesn't turn out to be what you thought it would be? What happens when you find yourself with a lot of free time that you didn't anticipate and you start spending much more time on social media and much less time learning practical skills? Here are some tips to make the most out of unfulfilling internships.

1. Ask for tasks.

When you don't have much to do, there is no harm in asking! This may seem somewhat daunting at first, depending on what kind of relationship you're building with your supervisor, but it will make your internship much more worthwhile and your supervisor will appreciate your enthusiasm and proactivity.

2. Find productive things to work on.

If you've already asked and there are no tasks to complete, DO NOT GET ON FACEBOOK FOR 3 HOURS. It's really easy to scroll through your timeline of posted pictures and interesting articles, but you'll be much better off writing your own blog, updating your resume and cover letter, or working on a 5 year plan. Believe me, stay away from social media.

3. Stay motivated.

When you haven't been given many assignments at your internship, it can be easy to get discouraged, but stay on the ball! Put on a blazer and a smile and give every project your best effort. Show your boss your A+ game and this could lead to more responsibilities in the future.

4. Keep. Showing. Up.

Do whatever it takes to get there. If you have a smartphone, give your alarm abrasive titles in all caps such as, "GET UP RIGHT NOW SERIOUSLY." Drag your body out of bed and catch whatever form of public transportation you take to work. And I don't just mean showing up physically, but mentally too. Run, shower, drink coffee, do some sun salutations. Figure out what you need to do to wake yourself up and make it a part of your morning routine.

5. Find a mentor.

Having free time in your office environment could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if you spend it with the right people. Try to find someone in your office that you can connect to and learn from. Create a solid relationship with this person and if nothing else, you will have gained a person in your industry to answer your questions and serve as a role model.

Unfulfilling internships can get frustrating but remember that your work in the short-term can lead to amazing long-term opportunities. Stay on top of your game and good things will come your way!