First summer internship anxiety!


I finished my first few days of my first summer internship (skill level: sophomore level studio completed) and I am very grateful for the experience to learn. However, my anxiety levels are through the roof (no pun intended). There is so much I do not know, and I am not proficient in all of the programs we are using, and I'm terrified that I will not complete something on time or to the level needed. I had already been tasked with completing a project that was to be shown a client the next day which ended up with me staying late (without knowledge of my boss) in order to learn and complete it. I'm terrified that I'm behind because not only do I need to relearn the specific older versions of the programs I already am not too familiar with, the projects themselves require a lot of figuring out and work as well. Do you have any tips or rational thoughts about calming nerves? I ask plenty of questions and am always trying my best and attempting to solve problems on my own, just I worry about the day when I CAN'T do something and I not only disappoint my boss, I cause something to be late and get disciplined/let go. My dad makes a good point as I am already welcome back to my old summer job where I'm paid more if something does go horribly wrong, however I am taking this as a real full-time job where I am expected to be perfect and less of a chance to just learn. As with any job there is a lot of responsibility, and the workload is not what worries me at all. I just never want to be incompetent and cause issues to the firm. I spend all day worrying about what my next project will be and if I will have enough time to learn how to do it and then actually complete it. Please do not take this post as me complaining, but rather me attempting to get into the correct mindset to succeed and to complete any project that may go my way. I would love to hear any stories or advice you may have! Thank you very much for your time.

May 20, 18 5:09 pm
Non Sequitur

First, drop the god bless, it's insulting to end your story on such an illusion.  Second, priorities your time and duties.  Since you're new, set up a daily schedule and track how long certain tasks take so you can estimate your deliverables.  Third, be honest with your superiors and ask for help in areas you're short on experience.  It's expected at a junior level that you can't do everything by yourself, so there is no shame.

May 20, 18 5:17 pm

I apologize, I have edited the post and removed that section. Also, thank you for reiterating that I should not feel ashamed for asking for help whenever I may need it. I believe that is my main roadblock, as my own insecurities about wanting to complete everything on my own causes me to feel bad asking whenever I may truly need it.

Non Sequitur

I noticed the edit, and it's too late now for me to edit my post. Anyways, I deal with plenty of green junior staff and those who don't act like they know everything are the ones that get ahead. Just don't go pester the next person (who is likely busy) immediately, take an educated stab at the problem and then run your solution through someone else.


I truly appreciate your input and your advice through your experiences. It is very relieving to hear about other interns in my position as well and what helps some of them succeed. Although small, reminding myself I'm not alone in my position does help a lot. Thank you for taking time out of your day to help better me as a professional.

Non Sequitur

No worries. best of luck.


Gotta say it... If someone wants to intend good will on anyone willing to help them, then there shouldn't be a problem with it. If they wish it based on either faith or circumstance that you are rewarded for your aid, it shouldn't be a problem. The insult here is that you felt obligated to call someone out on something as minor as a gesture of good will. Not here to start a religion argument. Just saying that there are a lot of shitty people out there, and if some rando wants to actually be nice and wish nice things for others, I don't think we should be calling them out for it. Just roll with it.




Don't worry too much, you're a summer intern, you're not supposed to know it all and be proficient and quick with every task they give you. They just want to see what you're capable of, so they keep piling on stuff until it's clearly too much for you to handle. You are always working for a project architect or manager whatever, in the end it is their responsibility to get things done, not yours. If they can't manage the workload and swamp a summer intern, you have nothing to worry about. Do as much as you can, soak it all up and take this experience with you back to school. It's not like your mortgage or feeding the family depends on this for you. Relax, go out for a walk during lunch or have a drink after work with your colleagues, it's summer!

May 21, 18 4:18 am

^^ have it right!  With the handful of younger staff I've overseen, it's ideal if you troubleshoot an issue first (give it 20 mins of googling/looking at some books in the office) and see if you can figure out something.  If not, then ask.  The first thing I almost always ask a younger staff member is "did you google it?  Did you look in blahblah book?"  If not, I point them to a resource.  When you do ask for help, I find it's best to say "I have ABC problem, and I found XYZ solution.  Does this make sense or should I do something else?" rather than "I don't know how to do this."  Even when you get a full-time position post-graduation, there will be things you don't know how to do.  One of the skills you are learning now is HOW and WHEN to ask questions.

I will second randomised's idea to go have a drink with work colleagues.  Maybe give it a week or two into the position, then ask. The last internship I had before I started my first full-time job, everyone was fairly close.  (Small office of about 10.)  I still keep in touch with some of the folks there, and part of that is because of the socializing we all did.  Remember these are going to be professional connections - so not too personal or out-of-hand - but a drink or two to get to know someone may have you stand out in their mind for future recommendations.

May 21, 18 9:53 am

Internships are a learning experience. You're expected to ask questions and ask for help if and when you need it. Prioritize your tasks and set a little bit of time aside each day to "train" yourself on programs you may be unfamiliar with. You'll settle into a routine soon enough. Just give it time and don't rush yourself. 

May 21, 18 10:07 am

Others have said most everything you need to know. 

You're not expected to know everything after your second year of school.  You're not expected to work as quickly as someone who has been in the office for years and know their systems. You're not expected to do more than is asked.  

If you are expected to do any of these things, it's not your fault.  That's an unrealistic expectation from the Owner.

You should make clear the limitations of your abilities and ask questions whenever you can.  You're there to learn and provide some benefit to the employer.  Make sure there is a happy balance. 

May 21, 18 11:07 am

"which ended up with me staying late (without knowledge of my boss) in order to learn and complete it."

Your boss not only knew, your boss expected it.

May 21, 18 11:55 am

I was thinking the same thing!


don’t fuck up the CAD file kid and everyone will love you

May 22, 18 7:22 am

Yes, absolutely this.


You mean changing everybody's shortcut for "copy" to "explode all hatches" is not the way to go?

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