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This is a follow-up from my question here on my atrocious relationship with my internship/assistance as an undergraduate at a teaching lab.

Since I only have some weeks left to end this awful experience, I am planning to visit the department's head(who is also my professor) at his office to explain how unproductive and pointless my "training" was and how I was being exploited by my supervisor.

The problem is that the president is also my professor(teaching courses I'm interested in), and I wonder if anything I say against my supervisor or my experience will worsen my future studies (and relationship) with my professor until I graduate.

  • Could you clarify whether the department presient (do you mean president?, which would be an unusual term) == "my professor" == "my supervisor"? – Ellen Spertus May 23 '15 at 21:36
  • "President" == "my professor" != "my supervisor" – Rrjrjtlokrthjji May 23 '15 at 21:38
  • I'm not familiar with the term "my professor". Do you mean "my advisor"? I suggest clarifying within the question, not just in the comments. – Ellen Spertus May 23 '15 at 21:40
  • I mean he is a professor in one of my courses. – Rrjrjtlokrthjji May 23 '15 at 21:44
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    @Nickolas: I am afraid I am now completely confused by "it's not an unpaid undergraduate internship" after the comments on your previous question, in which I thought you said exactly that. "I won't even get a certificate!" I don't know why that's a problem or even what the certificate is for. I don't even know where in the world this situation is taking place: some place where departments have "presidents", but I don't where that is. You seem to think that you're providing enough context, so maybe someone else will see it that way. Good luck. – Pete L. Clark May 23 '15 at 22:21
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I wonder if anything I say against my supervisor or my experience will worsen my future studies (and relationship) with my professor until I graduate.

It could, and this depends on many factors (including the character of this professor, his relationship with your supervisor, your character and how you explain things etc...), I don't think anyone can predict whether or not it actually will.

I recommend first considering what you hope to achieve in discussing this with the head of the department (aka president/professor). I can imagine a couple of possibilities:

  1. You feel the need to unload and feel some sympathy.
  2. You care about the system and hope this can be avoided for future students.

If it is mainly the first, I strongly suggest talking to a friend over a beer instead. You'll avoid the risk, and also won't essentially waste your professor's time (which would probably negatively affect his impression of you).

If your motivation is the second, I think this is quite a noble and selfless thing to do, showing high integrity, but it does put yourself at quite a bit of risk with essentially no gain (it helps future students, but if I understand correctly, not you). If this is your goal, I urge you to first consider whether you think this professor would actually care about the advice of an undergrad (I have known professors who would appreciate it, but also some who would simply consider the student to be complaining, in which case relations with that professor would indeed worsen). If you think he will, then I suggest the following:
Before speaking to your professor, make sure you can present the situation clearly, as objectively as possible and concisely (the longer you speak, the more it sounds like a rant and you lose interest - also professors tend to be very busy, and thus have low attention spans for issues that don't seem important). Be very clear straight off the bat that you understand and agree that what has already happened has happened and nothing can/will be done for you, and your intent is solely to raise awareness of the issue so that it can be avoided in the future. Possibly put this intent in writing when contacting the professor for the meeting (again, as short as possible).

In the end, taking action here will involve risk, regardless of your intentions. You will have to weigh how much you care about the issue, and what chances you think you have.

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I see this question as a duplicate of the other one, but I don't know how to make that official.

Here is what I said in my answer to the other question:

"Try to get out of there as gracefully as possible."

"Q: Should I talk to a professor about this topic?

"A: Yes, that would be fine, as long as you can avoid whining or complaining."

Perhaps it would be easier for you to avoid whining or complaining if you waited some time before sharing your constructively critical comments.

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Since I only have some weeks left to end this awful experience, I am planning to visit the department's president (who is also a professor) at his office to explain how unproductive and pointless my "training" was and how I was being exploited by my supervisor.

Newsflash: Slavery has been abolished. If you were "exploited", it's because you didn't do your due diligence to find out what you were getting into. You should've asked "what exactly will I be doing?" and, if you were not satisfied with the answer "delivering mail", you should've looked for a different position.

The problem is that the president is also my professor(teaching courses I'm interested in), and I wonder if anything I say against my supervisor or my experience will worsen my future studies (and relationship) with my professor until I graduate.

It might very well have this effect, since nobody likes a whiner. I'd recommend just dropping the issue, forgetting about the past and focusing on what you can do in the future to further your career. I forget the saying exactly, but there's a saying that goes something like "pushing other people down won't float you up".

  • Of course I asked "what exactly will I be doing" before accepting the position. He said we were going to work on some interesting projects but instead I'm only wiping, cleaning and doing chores. – Rrjrjtlokrthjji May 24 '15 at 12:12

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