We’ve all been there. You take a job for the summer because it sounds great during the interview process. Or you get freaked out because you need the money and you take a position that doesn’t really feel right. Perhaps you took an unpaid internship for the experience, but your friends are making more than you are and you realize that you need some extra spending money to enjoy summer fun. Maybe your boss is just a mercurial meanie and he or she is making your life miserable. You find yourself filing, whining, and never smiling.
As tempted as you may be to walk out the door (or out of the cube) before the summer’s end, take a deep breath and think through your decision. Like poison ivy, rash decisions can leave scars and even have an impact on your future employment options.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- Have I learned anything so far this summer? Even the most mindless, thankless, tedious job can teach you something about an industry, relationships, or working life. Try to focus on the half-full part of the glass.
- Is my job essential to the workings of the business? Even if your position seems extraneous, replacing you mid-season will cause a strain on and inconvenience for your employer. Revenge is a great concept, but do you really want your boss’ memories of you to be negative ones? No, you don’t—especially should you need a reference down the line.
- If I think I deserve more money or perks, can I make a case for it? No one ever gets a raise just because he needs/wants more money. If that were the case, we would all be millionaires. Sit down with your boss and explain how you’ve added value to the company during your tenure. Do your homework. If you have friends who are doing the same job and earning more, let your boss know—but be specific.
- What will I put on my résumé? Future employers will often ask how you spent your summer and will definitely question any situation where you describe yourself as a “victim.” Unless you have another great job lined up, you’ll need to explain why you walked out mid-season.
- If I truly need to leave, how can I do it gracefully? Some situations really may be unbearable. If your boss is a screamer, you feel your health/safety is in jeopardy, or you’re being asked to do illegal things at work, you may have no choice but to go. But make sure you sit down with your boss first and explain that the “fit” just isn’t right for you. Do not be tempted to rant and rave or complain to the interns you’re leaving behind. Act professional and calm and offer to stay on for a while to ensure a smooth transition of your tasks. At least you stand a chance of getting a good reference one day.