I currently am an engineer, interning for a couple of years at a great company. I am paid well for an intern and my manager treats me very well.

However, there's a couple of problems. Very few people at the company are my age. I tried making some friend but it's been difficult for me. I am starting to get pretty lonely, although I do speak to my coworkers often, I miss college. It will be many months before my internship ends. The other problem is it doesn't require much technical skill. It's not very interesting work.

My question is, what would be the impact of leaving early to go back to school? How bad would that be?

This question differs from the other in terms of scenario.

  • 2
    How can one resign from a new job gracefully? Going back to school, and then what? If you're planning to stay in academia, this presumably wouldn't matter much. If you're planning on going to back into industry, having left a position early and having 6 months less experience will obviously count against you (but it will stop mattering after a few years). Check your contract to see what the terms of leaving are. You might have a hard time finding out whether any given company has employees your age. Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 7:21
  • 1
    To get acquainted with people diametral different from you is a importat skill to learn
    – jean
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 10:07
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Leaving an internship early?
    – David K
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 12:52
  • see if there are local hobby groups or social clubs that might help dispel some of the loneliness. Life doesn't have to revolve around the internship.
    – LeLetter
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 21:27
  • 1
    Isn't the point of an internship for it be a short period, usually a period of 3 to 9 months? What industry are you in that has an internship position for a couple of YEARS?
    – Phil M
    Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 21:43

4 Answers 4


My recommendation is to stick it out.

Although the workplace might not have people your age, imagine the day when you graduate and would need to find a job. How would this experience (or lack of) set you back? In addition, what makes you think that your future job would have people your age? Your internship is a small taste of the 'real world' at large. Although it would sound harsh, it is time to toughen up and face the facts here. You have to learn to cope with undesirable conditions and excel regardless of your circumstances. In time, after you have demonstrated and proven yourself, you can then call the shots as to how things work.

According to a 2014 survey, approx. half of internships are paid and the other unpaid. But a cursory research into the reading doesn't support the notion that they pay well. In my experience, my first internships were paid minimum wage, it was only after I've developed a work history and marketable skills were I offered wages above minimum wage: $9.25 (hauling and sorting trash), $10 (research assistant), $15 (research assistant), $17.25 (application developer intern), $25.20 (industrial engineering intern). Knowing the value of my resume after graduation allowed me to better negotiate my starting salary at my current position, otherwise I would not have had the confidence to request a better offer.

You say that you are getting great experience, despite the actual work being dull. One way to make the experience more exciting is to ask your manager if you can shadow a senior engineer or another project during work hours such that you can get a better sense of the whole project. If you don't ask for these types of opportunities, you manager won't know that you are interested.

As an intern for UPS, my daily work was mundane, data-cleaning. But what I did was to spend my breaks and (with permission of course) interview senior-level staff at UPS and learn about their operations and overall project goals.

If you find yourself alone at work, focus on the work and make sure that you are bringing 100% levels of effort. Ask if you can collaborate in larger teams or start a project with fellow interns. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate leadership characteristics that few interns have the chance to. After work, you are free to volunteer, go to a park, participate in events, and socialize. You feel lonely as a result of your actions, seek to push beyond it.

At the same time, I have considerable doubts that you can just "go back to school" on a dime. Class enrollment is a drawn-out process, you can't just start a class in the middle of the semester/quarter.

At the end of the day, internships are a time to grow and learn on your own. No one is going to tell you what to do that will align with your interests. It is time to take charge and well... act like an adult.


Sounds like you have a great internship. Paid even, what is the world coming to!!!! :-)

For colleagues: this is what workplaces are like, it isn't a social club and even if there were people your own age, there's no expectation they'd be into the same stuff as you. Get talking to the other guys there, you'll learn lots. Really. So get out there are talk to them, ask about the stuff you're documenting, find out the secret bits nobody will admit to, hang around them in between work.

For the work: interns aren't going to be given the best work - that's for the employees. Interns get the stuff nobody else wants to do. Its OK, accept it because one day you'll be doing the good work and some poor intern will be given the crappy documenting job you don't want to do either. Embrace it, learn to love it, as there will be many times when there is no intern to drop your worst jobs on, and you'll have to do them anyway. So you might as well learn now to love even the boring jobs. You can get a great deal of satisfaction out of a job done well, even if its a horrible one. when you leave the company, leave behind sparkling documentation that will have them remember you with a sense of awe.

Besides, document writing is a great way of learning stuff - which is where you're at. You will learn all the tricky bits and it sticks in your mind as you've written it in a way that reading never reaches.

I will make an assumption that you're stuck out on your own with little to no involvement with the rest of the staff, it happens to easily with new guys, and guys who will not be around forever. If that's the case, it is up to you to make yourself more visible. even if all that means is asking your manager to put you closer to the rest of the staff.


Yes, it would be unprofessional to quit your internship.

Why? It shows that even in a decent situation you will not stick it out. That is a bad habit to get. When college is over, you will need to provide for yourself. Sometimes it means doing a job you don't like so you can have a house to live in and food on the table. Take this opportunity to learn.

For maybe the first time in your live you have found that making friends outside of school is hard. Worse yet, these are your (future) colleagues, not class mates. You need to be able to work with them, not be best buddies. If you make friends in your workplace, good for you! But do not expect it. People go to work to make money to do other things they like, mostly. Not to be (with) friends.

What you could do:

That all being said. Talk to your manager. Tell him what you want to learn. Be pro active on that. Show them what you are capable of. There is probably a small project that you can work on.

While you don't have age in common with this company, you do have the trade you all are working in. You do have common ground.

Ask them why they do this job. Talk to your colleagues about why you want to do this job. (hardware) Engineers in my book are not the talkative kind, till you hit on something they really like. Find that out. Those older people can be a wealth of knowledge and funny stories about what can go wrong.


Have you tried asking to become a regular employee? A couple of years sounds like an awfully long time for an internship...

It might seem like the other opposite direction, but if you're engaged and busy and working, you'll notice that the age difference won't matter as much as opposed to being bored part of the day.

Or even better, do both, go to school and become an FTE, that'll get you the farthest.

Either way maintain your relationships with your college friends and don't necessarily expect to make friends at work especially if you're a talented developer, you're going to be working with people older than you until you become them ;)

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