Since sept 2013, I have been doing a Masters in mathematical finance. Our course requires us to do an off-cycle internship of 5 months minimum (typically, from April to September). During this internship, I'm supposed to do something that is at least remotely related to mathematics/finance, and at the end of the internship, I have to give a report of what I have done. The content of that report is supposed to contain actual mathematical researchs / developments / ideas, and is necessary for the obtention of my diploma.

Unfortunately, since my internship started I have been given absolutely no work fitting the requirements. What I've actually been tasked to do is repetitive work consisting in using a software to process tons of record from a database, generating new records as output, and making sure the generated data is consistent. Whenever of these jobs fail I have to debug the software and propose a fix to make the job work. There is roughly ~50 millions records to be processed and the end goal is that all of them were processed correctly. As far as I can tell there is no way this will be done by the end of my internship, which is in 2 months. What's worse is that the team I'm in is facing increasing pressure to have all these records processed soon, while the higher-ups are heavily implying that it is taking so long because we are slacking off. This is pretty annoying because I want to make a good impression and I'm working as good as possible, but at the same time I don't feel like it is worth the effort to work extra-hard on this, given how little recognition I get and given that I will leave before the positive consequences of my work can affect me.

What can I do in my situation ? I haven't started my internship report yet (I don't even know what subject I could do it on), and I know I will to do it on my own time. At the same time the repetitive nature of my work makes me pretty burned out and whenever I never feel like working on maths for several hours.

TLDR: my 6 months internship that is supposed to be about mathematical finance is actually about doing extremely tedious work, and I have to complete a report by the end about all the mathematical research I'm supposed to have done.

What would you do in that situation ?

  • 1
    Could you explain to your manager your current situation, including your motivation for doing work related to your area of study and that it is required because you have to present on relevant work you've done? Also, you could inquire about projects that may be available within the scope of what you're describing - that way you don't have to act like you have hated your life the past X weeks, but you want to be more involved with the financials/company. Your manager should know of something. Whether or not they want you to be involved is a question.
    – Mark
    Aug 21, 2014 at 18:14
  • 2
    Do you have a signed contract or any document describing your duties / rights in term of the internship? Aug 22, 2014 at 11:03
  • @Dmitry Savostyanov : nope, the contract I have is generic to the firm and doesn't refer to anything special
    – lezebulon
    Aug 22, 2014 at 19:40

3 Answers 3


There are two people who can help you

  1. Your immediate manager
  2. Your advisor (or tutor if you don't have one)

Talk to your manager first about the requirements stated by your university, and how to translate your work into a working paper or report worthy of submission in an academic institute. I am sure he will be of help.

Then try talking to your advisor/tutor on whatever was discussed with your manager. He/She can advise you on planning your report.

I had been into such a situation, and my advisor suggested a way to tweak my working to do some additional tests/work. That extra work made my work eligible for an academic report.

  • Hi, my manager is the one who recruited me and is actually coming from the same Masters, so he knows exactly what the requirements are. He is also the one who tasked me to do what I'm doing, and is pretty much dodging the question about reports etc, under the guise that what I'm doing is critical priority for them. By advisor, do you mean the persons from university?
    – lezebulon
    Aug 21, 2014 at 18:30
  • 7
    By advisor, do you mean the persons from university?: Yes. And don't tell the manager you want something else, ask him how to translate this work to an academic report acceptable for submission. Take his suggestion or whatever answer and then talk to your advisor about it. Aug 21, 2014 at 18:33

The work you've done, while repetitive, may well be relevant to mathematics/finance. In order to answer this, you need to understand what the purpose of the task was, where the input data came from, and how the output is used. Your manager (or work colleagues) should be able to explain this to you, but you need to take the initiative to find out! An internship is a learning experience for you; if you're not asking questions, you're not learning.

Then, if you still feel that this work is not relevant to maths/finance, talk to your advisor at the university. If they agree with your assessment, they will probably take steps to correct the problem. If it is too late to correct the problem, they can at least insure that this doesn't happen again, perhaps by speaking with the company, or even not allowing students to intern at that company again.


Talk to your manager about it again and then your adviser . Perhaps your adviser can suggest to the company that if this doesn't resolve itself they will do what they can to suggest students no longer intern there thus no longer providing free labor.

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