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When is it Time to Call it Quits on your Internship?

Should I Stay or Should I Quit?

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This week on the Internship Forum I received a message from someone asking if they should leave their internship. Although my opinion is usually that unless it includes the following 4 criteria, I recommend that if at all possible, a current intern should try to stay with the internship for the experience it provides, the ability to make professional connections, and a chance to include relevant experience on their resume.

Since I believe there are some good lessons in the scenario, I thought I’d write about it so that people in similar circumstances (including jobs they can’t stand) can evaluate when it’s time to call it quits on their internship or job.

Writer’s Question on the Forum:

”Now, my question is, three months of not really experiencing what I expected and talking about it with the CEO more than once and things not improving, is it time for me to call it quits or stick around HOPING things will get better? And if I should stick it out, how long should I stick around knowing that the other offer may disappear after January?”

In this case, I think the writer makes some excellent points on why leaving this internship would not be a bad. First off, this person is a graduate student who had a job and was making decent money with great benefits only to leave and pursue what they thought would be their “dream job” once they completed their “training” which took form by doing an internship. For someone seeking a future job and looking to get exposure to the entertainment field in LA, taking this job sounded like an excellent idea.

But over the course of the past 2 months this internship has proven to be a nightmare. First off, many of the promises that were made at the time of the interview; were not followed through by the employer. The applicant was seeking excitement in the next job along with a decent salary, benefits, a good working environment, and a chance to grow within the company. To make the situation more complicated, the applicant was also interviewing for another company that seemed “amazing” but it didn’t offer the "glitz and glamour" of working with celebrities on a daily basis, so they ended up putting that job on hold.

They decided to take the internship because it was paid, it promised some "glitz and glamour", and had the potential to work into a full-time job once the internship was over. To the interns despair the pay was quite low and did not increase significantly only after some discussions and then again after taking on the role of personal assistant when the full-time employee was fired. Come to find out 2 previous employees doing this same job were also fired. They have had 10 interns over the course of the past 2 years and only 3 employees on payroll.

As the personal assistant the employee is now bored with the job running the office, and the actress that they work directly with is a lot of work. There have been promises of future commissions once events take place but there’s been nothing mentioned about training on how to be successful once a commission structure has been put into place.

The student is currently struggling with low pay and having trouble making ends meet while living in LA. Staying in a "bad internship" while struggling financially is probably not a good idea in this case, especially since the learning seems to be minimal with an non-existant growth path.

Dilemma: The writer’s Dad thinks the student should do what they think is best; but Mom wants the student to stay because she feels that the student has a prestigious title and there's a possibility that things will get better. While the reader is feeling quite used and upset because the company has not lived up to its promises and there appears to be no growth potential with the company.

If you'd like to let us know what you think, please join us on the Forum to see my response and let us know if you think this student should stay or leave their internship.

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