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Even if your internship isn’t what you hoped it would be, you can turn the negatives into positives.

If you are frustrated or disappointed with your summer internship, I have some good news for you: The experience may still prove beneficial. A bad internship can help you acquire coping or conflict-resolution skills. Exciting, right? Trust me, it’s worth it.

No job is perfect. Developing these strategies now will help you respond to frustrations later. Perhaps you learn to express your needs professionally and avoid unproductive complaining with other colleagues. Maybe you have an opportunity to confront unethical behavior or resolve a conflict peacefully with a colleague.

More importantly, a bad experience can help you identify your needs and preferences so you can avoid toxic positions altogether in the future. Engaging in the activities below will let you make the best of your internship.

Start by making a list of your complaints. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your internship? Turn your pet peeves into positive attributes that you desire.

Once you have created this list, identify if each item is affiliated with the specific internship site or occupation in general. The difference is important, especially if you are considering alternative careers as the result of your frustration. Sometimes you need to change jobs. For example, if you are tired of your micromanaging boss, you do not necessarily need to change your career goals. You need to change positions.

Other times, however, you need to consider alternative occupations. Take these three different examples.

First, you might dislike your job in advertising if you get your energy from other people but are stuck analyzing market data most of the day. In this scenario, you may still enjoy advertising in a different position that permits you to interact more with clients or focus groups.

Maybe you dislike working with bridezillas as an event planner. You may, however, still enjoy event planning in a different context.

Finally, perhaps your job as a payroll assistant has an intolerable level of monotony. You might still enjoy a career in human resources if you pursued a generalist position and broadened the diversity of your tasks to include other areas, such as employee recruiting, training or wellness.

Carefully seek out additional information and visit with other professionals in the field before you eliminate a career as the result of your internship. This will help you identify if your frustrations or desired attributes are fundamentally present throughout the career or affiliated with the specialty or job structure of your current position.

If you are frustrated with the work environment, spend some time converting the items on your list into interview questions that you can ask future employers to assess your potential satisfaction. For example, if you are tired of being micromanaged, push yourself to define the conditions that are necessary for you to experience autonomy. During the interview, you could ask you future employer the following questions: Who would be my supervisor and what is his or her management style? How often would we communicate? How are decisions made in this position?

Engaging in this process will help you clarify your future career and job preferences, both of which will increase the probability of your satisfaction. In the meantime, speak with your supervisor, your campus career center or academic adviser to discuss your frustrations. Faculty can help you strategize and objectively assess if your expectations are realistic. If you are bored, there is also time to modify your position description and obtain valuable work experience. Gracefully exit the position or choose to remain in the internship and continue to work hard. Regardless of which option you select, avoid burning bridges.

If you play your cards right, you can hopefully leave with a positive reference.

Billie Streufert is director of the Academic Success Center at the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota. With nearly 10 years of experience in career and academic advising, she is passionate about helping individuals discover and achieve their goals. She is eager to connect with students via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and her blog.

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