How to Quit an Internship: 4 Useful Tips

how to quit an internship

If you were nervous for the interview, I’m sure you’re 10x more nervous to quit. Unfortunately, internships don’t always work out. Maybe you got a better offer, had a personal or family issue come up, or just don’t like the work you’re doing. Whatever your reason, here’s how to quit an internship in 4 easy steps and in the most professional way possible.

Quick Links:

  1. Arrange a meeting with your manager
  2. Send a formal letter of resignation 
  3. Be gracious and professional
  4. Don’t feel guilty

1. Arrange a meeting with your manager

The first step in quitting an internship is to arrange a formal meeting with your manager. Since internships are for a short period of time, people don’t typically quit them. Your manager will probably be confused about why you’re quitting, and you owe it to them to explain.

The best course of action is to be honest, but polite. Tell them you really appreciate the opportunity and have learned a lot in your time there. Be honest about why you are choosing to leave early. Here are professional ways to say why you’re leaving:

  • If you had a personal matter/family matter come up
“I am really grateful to have had this opportunity and I have learned a lot in my time here. As much as I would like to complete my internship, a personal family matter came up that requires my immediate attention. I will have to end my internship early and go home to be with my family.”
  • If you got a better offer
“I want to thank you for taking me on as an intern. It’s been a great learning experience and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity. If you remember, in my interview I mentioned how my passion has always been aerospace but how I was curious to explore other sectors. I recently received an offer from an aerospace company that aligns too closely with my career goals to pass up.”
  • If you just really don’t like your internship
“I want to thank you for taking me on as an intern. It’s been a great learning experience and I’m grateful to have had this opportunity. Unfortunately, after spending the last few weeks/months here, I have realized that this is not the best fit for me.”

If this is the case, elaborate more on your specific reasons. It is also always best to communicate your concerns with your manager before quitting. It might seem a little off-putting if your manager first hears of your concerns when you’re quitting. However, if you have already expressed your concerns or you are positive you want to leave, try one of these phrases if it fits your situation.

  • “I feel as if the job description did not accurately describe what my role on this team would look like”
  • “I feel like my compensation does not appropriately match the amount of work that I’m doing. I feel overworked and this type of position is not sustainable for me.”
  • “I feel underutilized on the team. I’m hoping to pursue a position where I will feel more useful and challenged”
  • “I feel as if I’m not a good personality fit for this team/company. I feel unheard in team meetings (or whatever the issue is) and this type of work environment is not sustainable for me.”

If you’re leaving for one of these reasons, make sure you’re positive you want to leave. If you handle the situation respectfully, it’s not a guaranteed burnt bridge, but that is always a possibility. It’s still important to be honest with your manager because it might affect the next intern’s experience. If you give honest feedback, hopefully, they will implement change and be better prepared for the next intern.

2. Send a formal letter of resignation

The next step in resigning from your internship is sending a formal letter of resignation. Chances are, you already discussed everything with your manager, but they will still need to have it in writing. Here is an example intern resignation letter:

Sarah Smith
123 Your Street
Townname, FL. 12345
123-456-7898
Sarah.smith@gmail.com

June 1st, 2022

Mike Williams
Director of Manufacturing
Company Name
123 Street
City, NY 12345

Dear Mike, 

I want to thank you for the opportunity you have given me with this internship. Although I only worked here for 7 weeks, I feel as if this position was a great learning experience and helped me grow tremendously as an engineer. 

Unfortunately, I have decided that this position is ultimately not a great career fit for me. While I learned a great deal in my time here, I’m hoping to pursue a position that more closely aligns with my specific career goals. 

Please accept this as my 2-week notice of resignation from my position as [insert position]. My last day of employment will be June 15th, 2022.

In the next two weeks, I will continue to complete all of my open tasks and will put all of my work in an organized and easily-accessible location. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to assist with the transition process. 

Sincerely, 
Sarah Smith

If you want more resignation letter templates, check out this article by balancedcareers.com. It has templates for dozens of situations.

3. Be gracious and polite

Quitting a job is not an easy thing to do, especially so early in your career. It may cause some uncomfortable situations and questions, but it’s important to remain professional throughout the entire process. Continuously express your gratitude for the position while remaining firm in your decision to leave.

Before you leave, write thank-you letters to the team members that helped you the most during your time there. Make sure your co-workers and manager know you realize that taking you on as an intern was an investment for them as well and that you appreciate the time and effort they took to train you and help you during your time there.

4. Don’t feel guilty

Last, but not least, do not feel guilty for leaving. People quit jobs all the time. The company will replace you easily. If a company makes you feel bad about quitting, then that is a poor reflection of them. A good manager will handle the situation professionally and accept and support your decision to leave.

This is especially true as an intern. The whole point of an internship is to grow your skills and get a better idea of what you want to do after graduation. If you decide that your current position is not what you want to do, then that is still a valuable thing to have learned. As an intern, you should not be mission-critical to the company. Even if you are, there are tons of students searching for internships. The company should have no problem replacing you.

When it comes to your career, you need to make the best decisions for yourself. Your career growth and mental health will always be more important than any job.


Read More:

6 Ways to Make the Most of your Engineering Internship

Co-ops vs. Internship: 7 Major Differences

3 Alternative Entry-Level Jobs for Engineers