Internships can be the foundation to a great career. Just like any other entry-level job, interning is a time of overreaching and overachieving in the hopes of being remarked by the higher-ups. As with any employment, though, there will likely come a time to seek greener pastures, or experience personal circumstances that impair your ability to perform.

So, what happens when you have to quit an internship? Is it the same as quitting a job? 

It’s not, and these are the reasons why:

  1. The pay is not commensurate with the earned work experience. Internships are either paid (at a lesser comparative rate) or unpaid. However, the true value is in the experience.
  2. Internships are temporary. Many jobs, part- or full-time, aren’t.
  3. You only scratch the surface with an internship. Unless your internship lasts longer than six months, you may not have a deep understanding of the job yet.

All things considered, you should put serious thought into resigning an internship, just as if you were leaving a job. Go over the reasons why you’re considering departure before you pack your personal stuff, especially if you happen to be leaving your internship early. When ready,

  1. Be open and grateful. No matter what your individual employer’s company values are, every great boss and leader appreciates an employee who is honest and open. Set some time aside with them to announce your resignation, give two weeks’ notice, and express your gratitude for having the opportunity. Bring it up naturally and make it conversational. If asked, speak succinctly and truthfully about quitting your internship. 
  2. Secure a letter of recommendation. Assuming your experience was positive and ended as such, asking for a letter of recommendation is more than acceptable. 
  3. Write your letter of resignation. Treat your internship resignation just like you would a job. Be professional and make sure to indicate your last day on the letter, which should coincide with the end of your two weeks.
  4. Keep hustling. Dedicating the remainder of your time to completing projects and finishing tasks is a great way to leave on good terms. If the new hire happens to be around, assist your colleagues with training. Thank everyone who has made an impact during your time there and drop your contact information off with as many valued colleagues as possible. 

Find your next opportunity. If you don’t have one lined up, Handshake can help you find one. Whether you’re ready for your career or planning your next internship, remember that Handshake has plenty of opportunities. Don’t forget we can also help you write your next resume and cover letter, whether it’s for another internship, an entry-level job, or your next career step.