I am not an advocate of quitting an internship on the spot; but I do believe, in certain circumstances, quitting an internship is the right thing to do. The problem is how do you know if it’s really time to quit your internship and then what is the best way to go about it?
Making a rational decision rather than an emotional one.
First off, it’s important to not just up and quit your internship in the heat of the moment. You will want to really weigh the pros and the cons as to if quitting your internship is really the right thing to do. Just like any job, internships consist of both the good and the bad; but when the bad far outweighs the good, it may be time to leave. Quitting an internship needs to be well thought out and planned so that you will be able to do it professionally to best avoid burning any bridges behind you.
Suffering in silence for long periods of time can be detrimental to both your sanity and your health. If you find yourself feeling sick on Sunday night and then wake up Monday morning feeling a sense of dread, there is definitely something going on that you can’t just overlook. Interns may blame themselves for being in a bad internship but generally it often has very little to do with the student and more to do with a bad work environment that affects different people in different ways.
To decide if quitting is the right thing to do, it’s important to take the time to assess the situation very carefully and then talk it over with a family member, friend, or trusted faculty member at your college. In other words don’t make a hasty decision based on problems that you may be able to work out.
There are some situations where quitting may be the best choice, such as:
- When you feel threatened or unsafe at your internship.
- When your personal values are being compromised.
- When you don’t feel respected on the job.
- When the company is involved in illegal practices or unethical behavior.
All of the above can be real reasons to quit an internship. Feeling threatened or unsafe in the workplace is definitely cause for leaving an internship immediately. Having your personal values compromised is a tougher one since everyone defines their own values and sees things in their own way. First trying to see things from another’s perspective may change how you view the problem; but if you are feeling uncomfortable with what is going on, it may be time to quit.
There is no reason to work in a place where you feel that you are not being respected. Again, it is highly recommended that you assess the situation carefully before you put in your resignation; but if not being respected is an issue, again it may also be time to quit. If a company is involved in illegal practices or unethical behavior you will want to remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Removing yourself immediately from an organization that you feel is engaging in any form of questionable practices is admirable and this will set the stage when encountering similar problems throughout your future career.
Other situations may warrant action on your part to try to work things out. For example:
- If you are encountering problems working with a supervisor or a co-worker; or you feel that you are being discriminated against or experiencing some form of harassment on the job.
- If the internship is not what you expected.
- If you’re bored and find that you really have nothing to do.
- If you are finding it hard to keep up with the workload.
Is there a way to work out the problem?
The situations mentioned above may be able to be worked out by communicating with the appropriate party. If you are experiencing some sort of problem with another person within the organization, it is recommended that you sit down and speak to that person directly to see if the situation can be worked out. Speaking to your supervisor is the second course of action and in the case of problems with your supervisor or dealing with discrimination or harassment you may have to move up the channel to find someone who may be able to help. By not going to the top immediately, you are giving your supervisor or co-worker a chance to work thing out reasonably without creating too much ill will. On another note, several readers share their opinion on what makes an internship a success.
False expectations can often be traced back to lack of communication. If your internship is not what you expected, be sure to speak up and let your supervisor know. Discussing responsibilities and expectations beforehand can often avoid this situation from happening. It’s your responsibility to let your supervisor know when you are not feeling challenged on the job or; if you feel the expectations of the work expected of you as an intern has become too challenging, in order to make some adjustments.
Whatever the circumstances, if you do decide to leave your internship make sure that you do so in a professional manner. Ask to speak with your supervisor directly and if at all possible be prepared to give one to two weeks notice. If the situation is compromising your safety or physical or mental health, then it’s best to let your supervisor know why you feel that you need to leave the internship immediately. A sample resignation letter like this one can be a way to leave the organization on a positive note.