Quit job for internship?
June 11, 2013 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Should I quit my full-time, permanent job for a 3-month internship?

I am in the UK. I soon have an interview for a 3-month long, paid internship in Spain.

I currently work as a very junior 'translator' (more or less), which involves lots of data entry and is terribly dull and poorly paid. I do mostly enjoy it, but I don't want to stay forever, there's no real opportunity to advance within the company, and I feel like it could be more challenging. It does however, look good on my CV (I think), as it is related to what I want to do in the future. It's my first real job.

The internship is something I feel would boost my skills, nudge my Spanish up a level, and hopefully impress future employers, or even lead to something else. However it would involve giving up a full time job, when there aren't many available. It's not the kind of internship where you are hired at the end if they like you (although I suppose it's not impossible).

At the moment my head is telling me to keep the job I have, but my heart is telling me to go for the internship, as it's now or never.

Has anybody done something like this in the past and regretted it/would do it all over again? Thoughts?

Thanks :)
posted by iamsuper to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do the internship. Unless you really want to do boring, poorly-paid data entry for months or years longer, you're going to have to take the leap and leave eventually. Why not do it when you have an exciting opportunity to take?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:06 AM on June 11, 2013

Under these circumstances, I'd stay put.

A job that pays money is always better than a job you do for free. You hope it will impress future employers, but there's no guarantee. Sure, your current job is a whole lotta nuthin', but after a certain period of time, you'll be ready to move onto another position with another company.

How hard was it to get this job? How hard will it be to get a job after the internship? How much money will you sacrifice to take the internship? Could that income be replaced by a serving or bartending job? Can you get a serving or bartending job?

On the other hand, if you can get a job that pays along the same lines, and it dovetails with your internship, AND you feel like you can get a better job at the end of it, then quit, do the internship and move on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:06 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just FYI - the OP says the internship is paid, which might change things a bit. If you don't have to go into debt, and it's a good opportunity, and you're young, it's not a horrible idea to go for it!
posted by barnone at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

You don't have an internship yet, you have an interview. My advice is to...
1. Interview. You should (almost) always interview. You never know what will happen. They could offer you a job, you could find out it isn't right for you. Whatever happens, you will get some practice.
2. After you know more, you can move closer to your decision.
3. If you get a job offer for Spain, you could ask your current company for a leave of absence. You could see if you could start the interview later, you could use it as leverage for a better position in your company.
posted by jazh at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'd say go for it. But if you get offered the internship, ask your current employer if you could perhaps take a leave. No harm in asking!
posted by clone boulevard at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Given what you describe, I'd do the internship. You sound excited about it and not even vaguely excited about your job -- quite the opposite, in fact. If your current job is as blah as it sounds, you'll be moving on with or without this internship experience...might as well take advantage of a new growth opportunity, especially since it pays (I'm assuming in line with what you're getting paid now, on a pro-rata basis? that would be good to know).

Other pros: you'll perhaps have the opportunity to do some additional networking and get the lay of the job-land again since you won't be working with the end expectation that they will hire you. You won't regret "never having found out what it would have been like..."

Good luck!
posted by xiaolongbao at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2013

Oh, sorry. At least TRY for the internship. Yes, by all means.
posted by xiaolongbao at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2013

A few things to think about:

1. What's the worst that could happen? Would coming back to England after the three months are up, having to live with your parents and find a new job, really be that awful for you?

2. How would you feel if you turned away the opportunity and was still working the same entry-level job in five or ten years' time?

3. Do you feel like you're on track in a career or saving up for a house? It doesn't sound like you are, but rather just biding time.
posted by Jehan at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2013

Will the internship make you better at your current job or more valuable/promotable for you current employer? If so, your current employer might let yo take a leave of absence in order to do the internship.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Could you take a leave of absence from your current job?

If not, I'd be really hard pressed to recommend quitting a job with no other job lined up.

How old are you? What are your financial responsibilities?

3 months comes and goes so quickly. I'd listen to your head on this one.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2013

Back in the mid '90s, in the middle of the "multimedia" boom (when the Internet hadn't yet hit big), I was at a multimedia celebration of some sort at the Exploratorium in SF, hosted by Arthur Andersen. I was talking to one of the host reps, talking with great passion about what I'd worked on in the past year, for a company with a very recognizable name, and then I said "what do you do?".

He responded "I've just been trying to not get downsized."

In the intervening years I have, a few times, found myself trying to not get downsized, and it doesn't do anyone any favors. If I'm not fired up about what I'm doing, passionately trying to improve what I'm working on, there's probably someone who can do the job I'm in better than me, and I'm not living up to my potential.

Having said that: Hell yes, you should interview. And make them sell you on the job: They're asking you to come work for them for 3 months without work lined up afterwards. What are they offering you to make that decision worthwhile for them? My same advice here that I toss out for every interview: Assume that you are obscenely overqualified for the job and they want you, but you need to figure out if you want to do it. Make them sell you on it.

Make a plan for what happens in 3 months. Do you start sending out resumes in 2? Can you make that list now? Do you have a cash buffer to get you home and keep you comfortable 'til you find a new job? Is that list going to be in Spain, or at home?

And whatever you do, if you don't take this job then you should figure out what your other next move is. It sounds like you're just biding time, waiting for an opportunity. That says to me that there are professional connections you should be trying to make outside of work, trying to figure out what your next step is. Because it isn't your current job.
posted by straw at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah! I missed the part where it's a paid internship.

I'd say do it. You don't get many chances, and you might as well interview and see how it goes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:26 AM on June 11, 2013

I agree with straw, but also consider that a paid internship is pretty great, and the unemployment rate in Spain is pretty bad. Don't push the Spanish company too hard to sell you on the internship.

It sounds like you could make more connections through the internship, and if you can get a leave of absence from your current job, it could be a huge win for you.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

If it's a paid internship, do it, and make sure you're hunting FROM DAY ONE for a job to go to when you leave.

Three months is the absolute minimum amount of time you should allow for a job hunt, so as long as you're getting paid and as long as you've got this much jobhunting time available to you, do the thing you think will advance your career.
posted by tel3path at 11:59 AM on June 11, 2013

Could you take a leave of absence from the job? If it is something that will enhance your value to your company they might go for it.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2013

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