Post-internship troubles.
March 10, 2011 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Interned with publication. Didn't follow through after internship ended. How do I mend this possibly fractured relationship with my former employer?

Last summer, I interned with a local publication for four months. After my internship ended, my employer gave me a favorable performance review, and I expressed interest in continuing to freelance for the publication.

However, life got in the way (including a massive amount of senior year schoolwork, my grandmother's health issues, relationship problems, etc.), and I wasn't able to take on any new projects for the publication. I also didn't turn in a project that I'd started during the summer internship. This is my biggest concern.

My question is this: How can I rectify this situation? I now have the time to freelance and also want to mend this relationship with my former employer. Is it possible? Also, should I turn in the project that I've since completed ... even though it has been several months?

Thanks in advance.
posted by gypsyhymns to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Take your employer out to lunch. Seriously -- you need to get in front of him again, remind him/her what they saw in you before. They probably have a new intern now and you have fallen off the radar.

If it goes well, you can mention at the time that you're looking for freelance work. (If it goes really well, they'll ask YOU.)
posted by hermitosis at 1:14 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound fractured to me. It sounds like they liked you, you liked them, and they said that they'd like you to continue working in the future.

I would make the finished project look professional and then send it to the editor along with a cover letter saying that you had fun in the internship and recently had time to complete the project you'd started over the summer, and wanted to send it to them. I'd then mention that you're now wrapping up a busy period with graduation, etc (don't mention illnesses, etc, just that you've been busy) and you'll be available for opportunities this spring and would love to continue working with them.

Unless you promised them the project would be completed by a specific date and that you would return it to them by that date, it doesn't sound like you have a problem. If that was the case, I might go for an apology and turning it in.
posted by arnicae at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

You wouldn't be the first intern not to finish a project you started while interning; I didn't finish one I was assigned right after I was done with my internship (it turned out to be a practically impossible task), and now I work for that publication full-time. And I just today discovered a project a former intern was supposed to have completed that didn't get done (something wasn't posted to the Web archives like we'd hoped). Eh. We'll find someone else to update it; in the meantime, he's still pitching us story ideas.

You might just check with the intern coordinator/your main contact there and see whether that project is something they're still interested in using, or if not, if they're interested in seeing the completed work anyway. Apologize briefly and professionally about having been out of touch, then mention your interest in helping them out now however you can. Their response will probably hinge on whether they have money in their budget for freelancers right now and/or how (or whether) you informed them previously that you wouldn't be able to finish the project, as well as how crucial the project was. If they asked you about it previously and you were at least responsive, or at best proactive enough to tell them before they asked, you'll probably be fine.

In my case, the project was really impossible to complete as assigned, and I kind of malingered on it for a couple of months until one of the editors checked with me re: whether I thought it would be feasible to complete it. I said I really didn't think so, sorry, and they said OK. And it turned out that they then completely reworked the concept, 'cause they didn't have the resources/will to complete the project as originally specified either.
posted by limeonaire at 1:16 PM on March 10, 2011

I don't think this is a big deal at all. Employers give interns assignments with some expectation that they won't get done in time or to complete satisfaction. If your former supervisor hasn't followed up to ask about it, then it probably it wasn't that important or he/she has forgotten about it.

Chances are if you just call up, say something nice and deferential like, "I'm sorry that other things took over my life and wasn't able to finish Project X, but I have free time now and I'm eager to start doing some writing for you" -- I bet he or she will be very nice and tell you to forget about Project X and just pitch some stories.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2011

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