Intern for zero dollars or take promotion at current job?
July 22, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

If you have to work a full-time internship, does that mean you have to quit your job?

My sister is 28 years old and in a bachelor's program for childhood education/teaching.

She was just offered a high-paying promotion from her current employer (which isn't child/educational-related) but in a few months, she needs to start interning at local schools for zero dollars.

She wants to finish up her degree but she doesn't know how her, her husband (average income for Florida) can pay the bills on the house and take care of their 3 year old.

How does one pay the bills and take care of a child in these types of situations? Is that why so many students are waitresses/strippers?

Has anyone else had to make a decision like this? To climb the corporate ladder and make more money or to work for nothing and finish a degree?
posted by KogeLiz to Education (9 answers total)
This is the sort of conversation she should be having with her school/advisors. Yes, it's hard -- she should see what her current employer will let her do in terms of reducing hours and/or flex-timing her current hours, as schools are obviously not too flexible on their hours. It may be really hard... but that's unfortunately how it goes.
posted by brainmouse at 10:11 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well does she want to be a teacher or keep doing what she is currently doing?
posted by outsider at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2010

I worked full time while doing a 16-20 hour a week internship as a social worker... It was hard and made for some late nights but it's do-able. YMMV- My internship was only part time.

Also, *not* helpful, some of my classmates didn't work and just did their internship/classes. They'd ask me, "Doesn't your husband work so you don't have to?" Um, no, I don't have a husband, much less a rich one. :) Your sister will get flak from somebody no matter what choice she makes.
posted by ShadePlant at 11:08 AM on July 22, 2010

Does she HAVE to do the student teaching full time? My program simply required a fixed number of hours and although I chose to quit my job and do it 4 days a week I could have done half as much and still had more than enough hours by the end of the school year.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:10 AM on July 22, 2010

I would first investigate more flexible hours with the current job, but if that's not possible, I would start looking for a different job that was more compatible with the internship hours.

Regarding trying to get more flexibility with her current job, if your sister suggests it and they balk, perhaps she could suggest gaining that flexibility in exchange for a smaller raise (but she shouldn't suggest that until she knows they won't do it outright!).
posted by ocherdraco at 12:45 PM on July 22, 2010

Many/most people in the US take out student loans to pay tuition and their living expenses for school and augment it with paid internships, fellowships, loans from parents, grants, odd jobs the like.
posted by sandmanwv at 2:18 PM on July 22, 2010

I suspect they don't design the course requirements for people with families. I know someone who just had to quit her paying managerial job to do a 40-hour-week yearlong required internship for her degree, but it's obviously not as much of an issue when she's like 21-22 years old and someone else is paying for her to exist and eat.

I'd talk to the teachers and see what could be done. Another friend of mine who was around your age and had a small kid was going for a geology degree and the requirement was something like, she had to go out of town and work for 3 months. She managed to talk them into letting her do an equivalent while still at home. It's all going to depend on how flexible the original job or her degree program is. The problem here might be that well, schools run from 8-3 M-F, nonnegotiably, and most jobs run from 8-5 M-F, nonnegotiably.

If it comes down to making an ultimate decision, I'd choose to keep the job myself. Given what I hear about teacher pay and how often they get canned every year for budget reasons now, I don't know if I'd put "become a teacher ASAP" as the best priority right now if she is forced to choose between the two.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:20 PM on July 22, 2010

Well, since internships come at the end of her B.A., this can't come as a surprise, right? She knew that the full-time, unpaid internship at a school was part of the deal when she decided to go for the education degree. Presumably, she had a plan in place for when the internship rolled around, right?

If she didn't, and really can't make ends meet on just Dad's salary (which is doable, says this Floridian who lived on one salary while raising our kids), then I would suggest she keep the high-paying job opportunity.

Teaching will never give her the kind of salary she'll want if she already has problems meeting financial obligations. Teaching contracts are usually only for a year at a time, you have to figure out how to either do without a salary over summer or have your salary rationed to make it last year-round, and unless she is teaching in a critical area, there are more teachers than there are jobs. Those who are most willing to take on extra hours (like coaches, etc) tend to get more opportunities (in other words, single people or married teacher couples who are both working the long hours), so it is extremely competitive.

And if she already has a sure thing with her current job, swhy not opt for financial security now?
posted by misha at 4:39 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Re: the last comment:

Yes, she did know about the internship. She did not know she would be promoted to a position that almost doubles her salary.
Also, my question was also out of curiosity.

She also understands that teacher salary is not exactly high (especially in most parts of Florida) but that's what she wants to do. There are also other options with the degree she will earn.

That's great you can handle your fianances on one salary. A lot of people cannot. Good for you.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:54 AM on July 26, 2010

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