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How do I end my internship earlier than the discussed date?

How should I end an internship earlier than the previously discussed date? How do say I want to quit professionally? How should I begin the conversation, how should I end it?

Thank you comment icon Destiny, I think if you would give us more context as to the situation, and address some of the questions raised in our answers (is it a paid position, contract, etc) we would be able to give you much better answers. thanks! Kim Igleheart
Thank you comment icon First off i want to say I am a high school senior. This internship is my first “job” let alone internship, and got it while searching for volunteer work. In June I was taken on as a graphic designer and appointed to lead a mural project for the organization. I struggled a bit, but I did not get any clear direction or training for the position. During the project, I was managing the volunteers and they scrutinized me in front of the people I was directing. Afterward, the volunteers did not take my authority seriously. They also are not good communicators when it comes to what they need me to do, what goals the organization wants me as intern to work toward, what I specifically did wrong or right, etc. I am finding it more stressful than helpful as an aspiring artist. destiny

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Chrissy’s Answer

There are certainly many things to think about before quitting. Not knowing much about your situation, here are some things to think through and get clarity on:
Did you sign a contract? It is unlikely an employer would take you to court for breaking a contract due to the costs, but it is their legal right.
Did you accept a stipend/sign-on bonus? The company may ask for a portion or all of that to be returned if you do not complete the internship.
This is often called a 'claw back'.
Is your reason for quitting related to illness, family emergency or a necessary move? Talk to your supervisor or HR about what your options are.
Perhaps working remotely or taking some time off would be beneficial to both you and your employer.
Was there a particular work event that made you feel you had no other options but to quit? Find a trusted person to talk to, a coworker, a loved
one or HR, they may have some advice on how to approach the situation. Most companies have a 'no retaliation' policy, and you should fee
comfortable surfacing sticky situations without retaliation.
Have you accepted another position with a competitor? Most employers do not want their information leaked to a competitor, so being honest is
the best answer.

I hope this Q&A helped you think about some potential impacts of quitting. It's never a good feeling and always hard to surface, but the most important thing is to be honest!



Chrissy recommends the following next steps:

Contact your Human Resources group for answers to all these questions. Your conversations are confidential.
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Kim’s Answer

Well, that depends! Why do you want to quit it?

Quitting an internship was THE worst thing I ever did to sabotage my career. I was working for an investigative reporter, on a REALLY big project, and I totally botched a simple assignment that a 5th grader could have done. I was SO embarrassed! so, I never went back. Made my professor look really bad, because he had told the reporter what a great intern I would be.

What should I have done? Apologized, learned from it, and move on. We all make mistakes!

If you have a genuine need to terminate the internship, that's one thing. But if you just feel awkward, it's not a good fit, etc., that is NOT a reason to end it. You made a commitment - you need to keep it. Besides, learning to keep your commitments is a good experience. This won't be the last time you are in this situation.

If you MUST end it, you should first talk to the professor who is supervising it. And then tell the people you are working for. Face to face. If they want you to prepare a formal memo, then, do so. But seriously, try to stick it out!

The conversation: John, when you get a chance, may I speak to you privately?
. . .
well, there's no easy way to say this, because I truly appreciate everything this company has done in giving me this opportunity. . . but, I must discontinue this internship. I'll finish up whatever I am working on. It's for personal reasons, nothing related to the company or anyone here, y'all have all been great to me. I'm sorry. . .

or, something like that. Try to make eye contact. it will be difficult.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the reply! I am an high school senior, this internship is my first “job” let alone internship, and got it while searching for volunteer work. In June I was taken on as a graphic designer and appointed to lead a mural project for the organization. I struggled a bit, but I did not get any clear direction or training for the position. During the project, I was managing the volunteers and they scrutinized me in front of the people I was directing. Afterward, the volunteers did not take my authority seriously. They also are not good communicators when it comes to what they need me to do, what goals the organization wants me as intern to work toward, what I specifically did wrong or right, etc. I am finding it more stressful than helpful as an aspiring artist. destiny
Thank you comment icon Destiny, you've learned a lot in such a short time, about, " How NOT to manage." If this will end in December, try to press on. If June, maybe it's time to move on. MAYBE. Have you tried talking to them and asking for a written plan? An internship is supposed to be more than just "Free labor." YOU are supposed to be learning! There will always be situations like this in the business world. If you can find a way to work through it without quitting, you will have gained a LOT of experience, even if not the kind you were looking for. For your sake, try having a talk about expectations, program objectives, etc. even though they should have done that when you started. If you have to quit, then, that's okay too, don't beat yourself up over it! Kim Igleheart
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Sikawayi’s Answer

Hello Destiny, thank you for your question. Well before you consider ending any internship early you need to really evaluate how this will affect your grade or your reputation in the business community. Secondly if you do decide to leave your current position never use the word quiet. You need to express how you've enjoyed working with the company but due to family obligations you will be unable to continue to stay with the company. Lastly when you leave any place of employment start off by expressing all how much you have learned you know things of that nature and end your resignation on a friendly note leave the door open for you to be able to return to the business. Best of luck
Thank you comment icon I appreciate this, thank you for the advice. destiny
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Madison’s Answer

Hi Destiny!

This is a great question. We encourage looking at internships as a great learning opportunity – often times the bad work experiences we have are incredibly valuable in teaching us what we don't want in a long term role.

If you've decided that you need to leave, we'd recommend setting up a 1:1 with your manager and ensuring you have this discussion in-person or face-to-face over a video call. Make sure you give plenty of notice (two weeks is advised). It may be a good idea to be honest about why you're leaving – this is a good opportunity to give constructive feedback, while also showing your manager that you've put thought into this decision.

It's important to stay positive & be respectful during the conversation. Be grateful for the opportunity, even though it didn't work out.

One thing to consider: will you still get a good recommendation? This is an important aspect of the internship experience.
Thank you comment icon Loved reading this, thanks! destiny
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