Internship experiences are invaluable because they give us insight into a potential career path.

But what happens when you realise it seems you’re not cut out for the job?

A majority of young people enter their first internships as part of their course attachments in polytechnic or university.

These kinds of internships are often graded and in some cases, student-interns may even receive a failing grade. 

While not all internship experiences are graded, interns may still make mistakes in the course of their internship that leave them feeling defeated once the stint is complete. 

In this installation of our Interns Ask Bosses series, Rachel, a second-year university student majoring in Social Work, tells us about her struggle with feeling defeated in her internship. 

“Hi, I’m Rachel. I had interned as a teacher for a childcare centre and my supervisor at that time had told me that I was not fit to be a teacher. I ended up not doing too well in my internship and was graded poorly.

The feedback hit me quite hard. Not only was it hurtful, I began to question and doubt whether teaching was a profession I should continue pursuing even though I had a passion for it.

I was wondering whether bosses have any advice for interns who do not do well or fail at their internship. How can interns pick themselves up and discern whether they are truly fit for this profession or not?”

To answer Rachel’s question, we spoke to Jesher Loi, Director of Branding and Market Development at Ya Kun International. He’s also the third-generation owner of the beloved local coffee shop. 


An internship is really for the individual to experience what that particular industry’s work environment is like, what colleagues and superiors are like, what the work entails and most importantly, what they enjoy about the industry.

An internship would then confirm or deny one’s assumptions. 

What I look for most is an eagerness to learn… Having an eager intern who is willing to help, asking for more work or just showing initiative is invaluable.

For individuals who did not do well for their internship, it would be good to have a chat with your superior about why you didn’t do well.

Was it the hard skills that were lacking? Maybe you didn’t have the relevant technical knowledge or advanced skills to meaningfully contribute to the team and that may have affected their expectation.

For example, if you’re still working on basic culinary skills, you probably will have a harder time in a high-functioning, high-stress kitchen.

Maybe it wasn’t the hard skills but the soft skills that were an issue?

Punctuality, teamwork, following through with your tasks and adapting to company culture would be some things a reasonable supervisor would be looking for.

I don’t think supervisors have anything to lose so they’ll probably be honest with you. Those comments will be invaluable. 

In my opinion, what I look for most is an eagerness to learn. Having an eager intern who is willing to help, who asks for more work or just shows initiative is invaluable.

The last thing anyone wants to see is someone who is sitting on the side, fiddling on their phone because they “finished the task early”.

Showing an eagerness to learn, following through with a task and going beyond the role is always welcomed. An intern brings energy, wide-eyed eagerness and cheerfulness to a well-oiled clockwork environment so you can be that breath of fresh air! 


In your case, Rachel, since you mentioned that you have a passion for your particular role, do pray about it.

Ask God if this is truly your passion and if this is what He wants you to do.

Speak to leaders in your life like your parents and cell leaders. Ask your friends. And if you get the confirmation that they’ve seen this as a strength in you, then go try again!

Ask the Lord if this is what He wants for you and if you are pleasing Him.

Give it another go at a brand new company, which may offer a different philosophy and culture.

Even though two companies offer the same service, their culture and approach may be radically different. It’ll be very insightful for you to gain experience from a new company and see how you adapt and fare this time. 

Pray consistently in this journey. Ask the Lord if this is what He wants for you and if you are pleasing Him. Seek His will. Then take time to reflect.

After this second internship, it will be good to also take a step back and break down what is it you enjoy most about the industry.

Take childcare as an example. Drill right down to what you like the most about the career: is it playing with children? Or is it helping them learn? Or is it the work environment?

By honing in on the real reasons why you like this particular role, you can also then take those reasons and apply it to other industries out there that offer these aspects you enjoy.

But it may not necessarily be a childcare centre, thereby giving yourself more options to select from.

When it comes to career choices, the best place to be is where your passion meets His will. That is not always clear.

However, if you are walking close to the Lord and faithfully seeking counsel and wisdom from your spiritual leaders, your passions will start to become clearer.

And when you trust the Lord to guide your steps, you will be in His will. And that will make work very meaningful. 

If you enjoyed this article, here’s more from the “Interns Ask Bosses” series that may benefit you. 

  1. What do you think an internship is for?
  2. Reading Jesher’s reflections and suggestions, how have you been challenged to engage with your internship or rethink how you approach it?
  3. Identify your gifts and talents. What are some of your passions and burdens from God?
  4. Knowing these, how might your internship and career path align with God’s purposes for your life?