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Career skills

How To Quit An Internship In 7 Steps

You might leave an internship for many different reasons – you have a better opportunity, a family emergency, or the work environment is toxic. If you follow the steps below, you can quit an internship in a way that ensures you maintain relationship with your manager, colleagues and company.

What is an internship?

An internship is a professional experience where people gain experience in a particular industry.

These can be students in high school or college, entry-level job candidates or individuals hoping to change careers. Sometimes, you can earn credits towards your degree for this type of out-of-class learning.

Companies typically offer internship programs to provide people with an opportunity to learn about a specific interest area while performing basic job duties that support their business goals.

What are reasons to quit an internship?

You could earn more elsewhere

If you believe that you are worth more than what the internship is paying you, it may be time to leave.

While internships are often times unpaid or low-paid, research the industry standards for pay to ensure that you are receiving appropriate compensation.

If you are expected to perform many tasks for little pay, you may want to consider other opportunities.

You are not developing the skills you wanted to

If the duties you are assigned differ from what you expected to be doing, you may want to quit the internship.

For example, if you expected to learn different areas of the business and how the editorial process works, but instead you are only doing data entry, you may want to resign.

These basic administrative tasks may be valuable, but if you expected to learn industry-specific skills, you may want to look for another opportunity.

The company’s values do not match your own

If you feel like the company’s values do not align with your own, you may want to leave the internship.

For example, if the company promotes a strong work-life balance but you have to stay late every day to complete your tasks, an internship with another company may better align with your values.

You see unsafe or unethical practices happening

If you notice any unsafe or unethical practices going on at the company or with the staff, you may want to leave.

For example, if you are interning at a finance company and you are asked to make inaccurate adjustments or misleading statements, you may not feel comfortable continuing to work there. If this happens, it’s time to quit the internship.

If you have any concerns, you should discuss them with the company’s human resources department.

You’re offered a better job

If you receive another opportunity, whether it is a job or you have to dedicate more time to your schoolwork or personal life, you may want to leave the internship.

Companies often understand that an internship is an additional responsibility and that you may be working elsewhere or have other commitments.

If you receive a job offer or have to focus on another responsibility, the company may encourage you to pursue it.

You have a personal emergency

Occasionally something will happen in your life that requires you to leave work.

If you become ill, or something happens in your family, this could require you to leave an internship or other work.

How to quit an internship in seven steps

Here’s the right way to quit an internship

1. Tell your manager you’re leaving

When you are leaving your internship, it is important to be honest with your internship manager so they can improve the experience for future interns.

Explain your reasons for leaving and what your expectations were so the company can learn from your experience. Your feedback is essential in ensuring that future interns have a positive experience.

2. Thank them for the opportunity

If you want to maintain a good relationship with your manager and the company after your internship, express gratitude for what you have learned.

You could mention specific responsibilities you performed, what skills you learned, and how you have developed since starting the internship. If there are qualities or skills you admire in your manager, let them know.

You might say something like:

I would like to express my gratitude to my manager and the company for what I learned during my internship. I learned so many new skills and am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a great company.

Thank you to my manager and the company for the skills and development I gained during my internship. I’m so grateful for the experience and what I learned. Thank you for the opportunity to work with such an amazing team.

3. Ask for a letter of recommendation

If you have a good relationship with your internship manager and you think they would write you a positive letter of recommendation, you could ask them to do so.

This could be helpful when applying for jobs in the future, as it would serve as verification for the skills and experience you list on your resume.

You might say:

I was wondering if I might be able to ask for a letter of recommendation.

My experience during my internship was amazing, and I really enjoyed working with you. Would you mind writing a quick a letter summarizing my work ethic, duties, and skills.

This would help me immensely when applying for future jobs – I’m happy to start by outlining it for you.

4. Discuss your last day and what your responsibilities will be until then

Before you resign, discuss terms with your manager to clarify both parties’ expectations. Rather than sending an email or text, try to schedule a meeting to discuss when you will leave and what your responsibilities are for the rest of your internship.

Giving them a two-week notice can show them you respect their time and company. When you are ready to resign, have a discussion with your manager to go over both of your expectations.

It is better to schedule a meeting to talk about your departure date and what your responsibilities will be for the rest of the internship. By giving them a two-week notice, it will show that you have respect for their time and company.

5. Write a formal resignation letter

You should also prepare a formal resignation letter detailing your discussion with your manager and your intent to resign.

This letter will serve as a formal record of your agreement. Be sure to express your gratitude in the letter.

6. Finish strong by working hard until your last day

In your final weeks, focus on your work and try to finish strong. If you want a reference from your manager, do your best to end on a high note.

Complete any projects your supervisor assigns to you and show them that you’re still dedicated.

7. Prepare for what’s next

Depending on your reasons for leaving, you will need to plan accordingly for what comes next in your professional life.

If, for example, you are leaving to focus on your education, you will need to account for the period of time in which you will not be earning an income.

Review your budget to make sure you have the financial resources to cover this time period.

If you are leaving because the internship was a requirement for school, speak to your advisor about why you are leaving and express your interest in other opportunities.

Other resources

By Taylor Thompson

Taylor is a co-founder at Purpose Built Ventures, where he helps launch mission-driven companies. Before Purpose Built, Taylor led growth at Almanac, strategy for Curious Learning, and product at PharmaSecure. His work helps 100,000s of people collaborate at work, 4 million children learn to read, and protects billions of medicines from counterfeiting. He has hired dozens of people, helped raise more than $50 million, and contributed to HBR.org as a researcher with Clay Christensen. Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow, and he has degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School.

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