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How do you confront a boss when he isn't treating you with respect?

I Intern at Silicon Valley Space Center- with no rewards. I don't get paid, I don't receive any kind of educational support or guidance, but I am constantly thrown in to situations where I have zero idea of how to accomplish a task-let even know really what the task is. I work very hard and thoughtfully, and have had amazing results. Yet, my supervisor hasn't given me even one thank you or acknowledgement of my hard work. I really wish I could just get something in return for all the things I do for him. Can you guys suggest a way for me to confront him about this issue? It is an awkward thing to simply bring up. internships communications communication boss respectful

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Vivian’s Answer

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Hi Lilla,


First of all, I'm sorry that you are having such a bad experience at your internship. I just wanted to highlight a few things before I get into my own experience.


It's amazing that you are so ambitious! Working hard at your goal and doing an internship, is something that should be celebrated. I hope this bad experience doesn't defer you from your bigger goal. Also, the fact that you are thrown into a situation without knowing the context and you are still able to do a good job, means you are adaptable. Keep doing what you are doing, despite this bad experience. As long as you keep learning, you will excel!


As for my own experience, man... I've gotten bad managers/bosses. So I completely understand your frustration. Being under-appreciated takes it toll after a while. Here are some things to keep in mind, your supervisor probably has worked hard to get where s/he is too, so even if he doesn't say thank you, it doesn't mean you aren't doing a good job. One thing I've learned from working for over 10 years is, to not try and take it personally. That's easier said than done, because we are all trying our best to do a good job, so it will be hard to not to take it personally. But once you think about the job itself and not with your emotions, you can see a bit clearer.


Also, maybe approach it another way. Set a meeting with your supervisor – thank her/him for this amazing intern opportunity, mention you are learning a lot and feel like you are adapting quickly, then turn the tables and say things like, "I value your input and want to know what are some things you think I can improve on to become a better asset for the company." This way you can hear face-to-face what s/he thinks about you. Some things might be hard to hear, but it will help you and they will respect you for valuing their opinion. In the end, their recommendation helps propel you forward.


Get this book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7850284-effective-immediately
It will help you with your first job and just how to interact with people in the work place. It's an amazing book!


Hope this helps Lilla. Good luck!


Dream big, Vivian

Vivian, thank you so much for this detailed and kind suggestion. It really helps to not only know that other people out in the work force have dealt with what I'm feeling, but that there is a way to solve/improve the situation! I will definitely check out your suggested book! It seems like it has a lot to offer me-and not just on this one topic. Again, wonderful response and suggestion, thank you. Lilia M.
You're welcome Lilla. You will enjoy the book, it will teach you a lot. I read it from time to time to refresh my memory on how to deal with difficult work situations. :) Vivian Urata
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Teresa’s Answer

I'm very sorry to hear that you are having this experience as an intern.  Unfortunately many people in the workplace may be so focused on their own careers that they are not helpful to those that are just starting out or trying to learn.  At my job we have a coin that has the words "Straight Talk" on it and colleagues are encouraged to take it to another colleague and have an honest conversation about difficult situations. 

In my career, I have always found that it has been a good policy to be honest and communicate how I feel. I understand that may be difficult, especially if you are not a full time employee yet, but some people are honestly not aware of how they are perceived by others. 

My main advice would be to set up a meeting with the manager and solicit feedback on your performance.  If he/she feels you are doing a good job you might want to let them know that real time feedback would be helpful for growing in your role and allowing you to take on more responsibility. 

Try to put a positive spin when you speak to your boss, tell him/her that you like the company and the work you do but that you need a little more guidance.  If they are unable to provide you with the guidance you need, ask them to recommend a colleague that could mentor you during your time with the company.

Be confident, you have this internship because they thought you were qualified for the job!  Good luck!

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