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How Long Would You Be an Intern?

How Long Is Too Long to Be an Intern?

About a year after graduation, a friend of mine landed a great design internship with an amazing firm in the city. Fast forward almost three years later and she's still an intern with the company. Based on economics, the small firm can't afford to offer her a promotion, and, as if that wasn't bad enough, her title has remained the same as well — officially, she's still the office "intern."

So, why is she still sticking around? Well, after nearly three years with the same office, she feels committed to the work there, especially since they've assured her again and again that as soon as they're financially able, she will get the promotion she so deserves. Besides that, the company is one of the most reputable in its field, so she's figured it might pay off in the long haul to wait it out.

While she's met with HR and her superiors to clear the air on her predicament, at this point, there's nothing the company is really offering to do to change her status. For now, she'll have to continue the work she's doing and hope it pays off. Keep in mind, she is a paid intern, but she doesn't receive any health benefits, paid time off, or 401(k). Now, I'm wondering how many of you out there would do the same if you were really passionate about your career field? How long would you stick it out as an intern at a great firm before you said adios?

Join The Conversation
Yesi-Jukebox Yesi-Jukebox 6 years
I would only stick around that long if I can't find another job. Sounds like she has enough experience that she could get an actualy position with another firm. Also, I find it interesting that this firm is "one of the most reputable in its field" yet they can't afford to promote her. That doesn't make much sense to me.
InternGal InternGal 6 years
I've held two internships so far, one in a law firm and one in a state government agency. Both have been unpaid and I'm resuming the state government one this fall. I don't have any problem with staying unpaid until I graduate but would like to be able to advance afterward to a paid position. As a social work major, unpaid internships (aka clinicals) are part of our requirement for graduation. We have to complete 3 internships that are 40+ hrs per semester and one that takes up an entire semester, we can't take any other classes are instead we're actually working under some kind of provisional license.
sourcherries sourcherries 6 years
I'm with le romantique--was also in entertainment. It was only when I said I was would leave that they finally offered me pay. I left anyway. $300/wk, no benefits to work over 40 hrs/wk? Pass.
luna08 luna08 6 years
Three years is way too long!! At the least, she should talk to them about retroactively giving her a permanant title. At least her resume` wouldn't list "intern" for the past three years, and her accomplishments would have more weight. It sounds like they're taking advantage of her, and it's partly because she's shown them that they can!
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 6 years
I agree that a year is long enough. She needs to start looking for other opportunities and I think she should let her supervisor and HR know that she is looking. If that company really wants her, they will figure out a way to keep her (as a professional, not an intern)regardless of the economy.
stylinfabqueen stylinfabqueen 6 years
In my profession, they are always hiring unpaid interns so finding an entry level job is like a needle in a hay stack. I think after a year that your still an intern and not getting your suggested salary or benefits, its been too long.
imLissy imLissy 6 years
That's not right at all. You just don't treat people that way, especially people you want to keep around.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 6 years
If the company is one of the most reputable ones in the field, they should be able to do better than jerk you around. I know times are tough, but a three-year internship is not going to look good on a resume. I think you need to focus on moving on.
le-romantique le-romantique 6 years
This happened to me... entertainment industry is the WORST with this. I was an UNPAID intern for a year,got paid for freelance work after about 4 months, was bff's with all my coworkers, etc. What I did was get a part time job and minimize my time at the internship, they noticed they needed me around... so now (13months later) I have a sweet job, its still not on payroll so I don't get benefits, but the pay is great, and I'm still with all my pals, plus my part time job is now on weekends only so I'm still making extra money, too!
idanceinmycar idanceinmycar 6 years
Sure, the recession is awful and companies are struggling, but they can't afford to hire 1 person who obviously is contributing positively to the company? This situation reflects poorly on the company IMO. She needs to speak up and be even more assertive with her wanting an official place in the company. Otherwise if she keeps accepting the intern status, why should the company be motivated to change her employee status? I really hope she's looking for job opportunities elsewhere.
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