Student Stories

Why, When, and How to Leave Your Internship

This is a guest post by Sherry Zou for InternMatch’s Student Stories. If you’re interested in getting involved with Student Stories, learn more here.


Have you ever thought about leaving your internship position for a better one? Tired of doing tedious and monotonous work over and over again? Do you not know how to approach your employer about the change of tasks? Are you afraid to speak out your work concerns and problems to the employer?

These are some of the questions you probably have in mind when you are in this situation in which you are thinking of leaving your internship position.

 Most college students stay at their internships for one year or two years. After the completion of their internships, some or few are offered full-time positions after graduation. However others are not and they leave for better opportunities in other places.

The reasons for leaving are varied from person to person. The most common reasons include the inability to attain new skills and expertise or the internships are unpaid. Other reasons may include issues such as the work environment and the quality of the internship. Whether or not interns choose to leave the position, most interns typically initiate the “expectations for the internship” conversation with the employer.

The “expectation for the internship” conversation is a formal or informal talk in which an intern speaks out his or her concerns and problems to the employer in regard to the internship. The employer would respond to his or her concerns and problems in the form of possible solutions. If there is a mutual agreement between the employer and the intern in terms of the solution, that would be the end of the conversation. If there is no mutual agreement, the intern would most likely consider leaving the position in order to pursue a better one.

So when should an intern tell the employer that he or she is leaving?

There is no right or wrong answer to that question. It all depends on the situation, the position, and the employer. If an intern is in the middle of finishing a task or a project assigned by the employer, an intern should delay the letter of resignation. The reason why I say this is because this shows that an intern is responsible for what he or she is doing. Even though an intern knows that he or she is leaving soon, he or she would never know that the employer would be related to your future employer. In other words, leave a good impression and display professionalism!

How to leave an internship?

First, an intern would write some form of letter of resignation to the employer. In the letter, an intern would first thank the employer for his or her time. Then, an intern would write about his or her positive experiences and attained skills. Lastly, an intern can write about the ways of staying connected with the employer either through social media or email.

Whether you are deciding to stay or to leave your current internship, you should consider the benefits and the drawbacks of staying or leaving. You want to always have a plan about what to do next. Mostly, you do not want to anger or aggravate your employer even if you do not like him or her. There is a road ahead of you and you know that the termination of this internship is not the end of the story. It only leaves more opportunities and possibilities for a better future!

About the Author:

My name is Sherry Zou and I am currently studying Experimental Psychology at Saint John’s University located at Jamaica, New York. My career goal is to become a clinical psychologist with an emphasis of treating children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders. My hobbies are knitting, crocheting, painting, and drawing.


Photo Credit: © 2014 The Healthy Holiday Company

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