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So I am currently working on my internship. My Supervisor gave me a task where I have to do a certain System as my first task. I'm almost done with the system, however, I encountered a problem where I can't do a certain function in the system. It still works perfect fine though, it is not that major but it would be so much better if I got it done. I've been working for that function for two weeks now, studying and researching but I really can't really make it work. I am giving up.

Now, I want to pass the system I made on to them and tell them that, that is all I can do and that I want to start my next task now since I feel like I'm wasting my time trying to make the function work when I know that I can't really do it.

I am actually nervous about telling this to them. They are not expecting me to finish the system completely actually, but they once told me that if I finished it then it's better because if it's really good then they might use it. But they are not pressuring me or something. I just don't feel good thinking that I will give them a system that is not perfectly working on some point. But the fact that I am doing nothing for the past 2 weeks is making me feel bad.

How do I tell my supervisor that I'm struggling with my currently assigned task, can't improve what I've done so far, and want to start my next task?

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    Welcome to IPS! I wanted to see if you tried to do this but failed, or are nervous about doing this because of something? Can you give a few more details regarding your supervisor's personality perhaps and more about the work, whether it is really important or really low level work? Is it a priority on their list of things to do? – ElizB Mar 12 at 1:16
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    @ElizB I am actually nervous about telling this to them. They are not expecting me to finish the system completely actually, but they once told me that if I finished it then it's better because if it's really good then they might use it. But they are not pressuring me or something. I just don't feel good thinking that I will give them a system that is not perfectly working on some point. But the fact that I am doing nothing for the past 2 weeks is making me feel bad. – desteen Mar 12 at 1:28
  • as an alternative, do you have other resources within your work that are more experienced solving the problem you have been stuck on? – BKlassen Mar 12 at 15:31
  • @BKlassen I am an IT student so they assigned me beside the desk of their IT. I badly want to ask him for help sometimes but I'm just too shy because I always see how busy he is with his work and bothering him might not be a good idea. – desteen Mar 13 at 0:13
  • This would also be a very good question over at The Workplace. – David K May 1 at 12:14
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They didn't expect you to finish the whole system (even if they would have liked it if you could), so this is a really easy conversation to have. I know you would have liked to finish everything, but since they didn't expect that of you you'll make the conversation more awkward if you make a bigger deal out of this than they are.

So when you talk to them, don't be a nervous mess. Be calm and collected, use the same tone you would use to give them a neutral update (because that's what it is). As for the content of what you say, tell them you wanted to finish the system, but you haven't been able to solve function A. Mention what you've tried, but it hasn't solved the problem and you don't think you'll be able to solve this quickly and effectively. At the end, ask them if it makes sense for you to start on the next task and leave the system unfinished.

Tone here is important because it shows how you react to pressure/failure. If you sound really nervous, it will signal to them you're having trouble handling difficulties. If you sound calm it gives the impression you're able to tackle problems with a level head and you don't crumble under the pressure. On that same note, don't apologize profusely for not being able to finish the project. Express your regret once, but then move on ("I really wanted to finish that project / I'm sorry for not delivering a finished product, but I'm at the point where I don't think it will serve me or the company well to continue working on this. Do you agree I should move on to the next task ?").

Also, maybe this is fine in your industry or in the context of your internship, but being stuck on an issue for two weeks would be problematic in a lot of places. Be prepared, your supervisor might have some criticism about that. If you get criticism, again stay calm, let them know you've heard them and that you'll make sure this doesn't happen again (it's an internship, it's the time where you learn how to work in a company, so don't beat yourself up if you get criticism, that's the point of an internship).

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