How to Politely Resign

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This interview was originally published on InternMatch Communities. We’ve retired the Communities, but will continue to publish top posts from the forum in the coming weeks.

Sean, a Looksharp reader, reached out to our team about how he could politely resign from his internship. Read on to see what challenges he faced and the advice offered to him.

Sean:

Hi everyone,

I’ve been at this startup since mid June (about two months now). College classes start in about a month and I don’t know if I can handle four to five classes and do my internship. Also, since my friend who has been driving me won’t be here when classes start, I won’t have a ride to work.

So my question is: How do I resign politely? My boss is out of town a lot and work isn’t very interesting anymore. I’m not learning as much as I was before.


Sonya Sharififard:

Hi Sean,

You’ve taken an important initial step in evaluating your position’s long-term potential.

As a courtesy, provide your boss with a two-week notice to implement succession time, and arrange a meeting.

At the meeting, provide your boss with your resignation letter that states your official resignation and appreciation for the tenure.

Before you confirm the decision to resign, you would want to ensure that the bridges aren’t completely burnt, as you may need the employer for other opportunities.

Best of luck to you!


Nathan Parcells:

Sean,

Good question and some interesting challenges to navigate there. Here is my take:

It sounds like you have identified two issues. The first that simply being able to get to work and make the most of it is becoming too big a challenge with the start of school. Second, that the position itself is not what you expected and is not providing you valuable experience or being well-managed.

If your only issue was the first point, I would say simply schedule a time to speak with your boss and explain the added challenge you are facing with new class constraints and see if it is possible to setup a more flexible or lower hour work schedule.

That said, it seems like your bigger issue is the position itself. If this is the case, does your position have a set end date? If so, you might want to consider waiting until that end date which you committed to in taking the job (you by no means have to). If you did this you could consider talking to them about an interest and readiness to take on more serious projects and a desire to meet with your boss once a week to discuss more specific goals (we call this managing up when you need to do the work to get your boss to manage you appropriately). If you don’t have a set end date or want to get out no matter what, then I agree with Sonya above; explain how the change in your schedule makes it so you won’t be able to continue with the internship and give your two weeks notice. I would be open to working a bit longer than two weeks if they need to find someone to replace you, or you need more time to wrap up projects, so that you prove that you are willing to meet half way to make the transition smooth.

Good luck on this process. It’s always tough to leave an employer but if the position is so loose that you feel you are getting little to nothing out of it, that is a problem in how it is structured.

-Nathan


Judith Ayala:

Hello,

I have a similar problem. What if the reason you need to resign is not because of school, but because you received a better offer with more secured opportunities?

I’m currently doing an internship but I just got offered a job. I really don’t want to burn any bridges! I’ve done an internship before, so my current one was more of a trial stage; they want to make sure I’m a good fit and if they are a good fit for me, which I’m not too sure they are.

I’m really stuck here because I’m afraid to do the wrong move. If I leave for another opportunity is the bridge completely burned?

Thanks.


Nathan Parcells:

Judith,

This is a tricky question and one we hear a lot.

Every situation is different, but first you need to decide whether or not it is possible to finish out your current role or push back your start date. If so no bridges will be burned, and you can inform your current employer that you have another offer that you plan to take at the end of the internship, which lets them know they need to consider making a counter offer ASAP, or else you will be gone.

If you definitely can not make it to the end of your internship, you need to consider how comfortable you are with breaking things off with your current employer prematurely. Are you in month one of a hard six month commitment? If so, you will need to balance breaking your word (and making a bad name for yourself in industries that are always smaller than you think) with looking out for your own interests. Ideally you have a good relationship with your employer, and they understand the importance of a full-time role for you and you can help by finding your own replacement, helping with the transition and not making this a huge hassle for them.

The final option is that you have a good relationship with you current employer and when you talk to them they will want to make a counter offer. This is obviously most ideal, and depends a lot on how you have proven yourself thus far, being professional in your conversation with them, and them having the ability (funds, an opening, etc.) to make a future hire.

I hope this all helps. Resigning from an internship commitment is always a careful balance between getting what you want, but not being so entitled that you leave your current boss in a lurch. Small things, such as being amenable to a longer exit period, can all go a long way.

Source: InternMatch.com