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Should I Put an Aborted Internship on My Resume?

Your internship wasn't a good fit, and you were asked to leave early. Should you put the experience on your resume?

Q: I was given an unpaid internship at a bulge-bracket firm. I interned in the Private Client Group, which is composed of financial advisors, and the internship was very informal. After a week and a half, my supervisor said I'm not a "good fit" and asked me to leave. Can I still put the position on my resume? I'm going into my third year as an undergrad and I'm really not having a good time at work. Thanks.

Paid and unpaid internships provide job seekers a world of opportunities: to explore careers and jobs, cultivate experiences and accomplishments, bolster credentials, and develop networks and references. They also allow individuals to "test the waters," evaluating first-hand whether they enjoy the job functions and business environment.

In the best of worlds, internships should help individuals decide whether to pursue or avoid a career direction. Putting all this in perspective, you need to determine whether this internship was a "good fit" for you.

When you say you did not have a good time at work, does that mean the work was boring and the field uninteresting to you? If it's not a good fit, it's best to know now, while you're still pursuing your degree, so you can begin to move in another direction. And if it wasn't a good experience, why put it on your resume? Any information there will elicit questions - and how would you explain a position of such a short duration, which you didn't enjoy, and which the supervisor asked you to leave?

But let's back up a bit. Say you thought the internship was a good fit and you still want to give this job or career a try. I'd approach your supervisor and ask him to share why he feels you're not a good fit and why he wants you to leave. It could help you understand and correct work behaviors that are hindering your performance, and provide areas where you can improve.

Let the internship experience do its job moving you closer to careers and jobs that match your interests and qualifications. A very short work stint that doesn't enhance your credentials or career prospects need not go on your resume.

Robbie Miller Kaplan, a nationally-recognized expert on career communications, is the author of "How to Say It In Your Job Search" and "How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say: The Right Words for Difficult Times," published by Prentice Hall Press.

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