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Currently, I am employed as an intern at a company where I am doing the work for my master thesis. The internship was initially limited to six months. As it turns out the thesis will not be finished by the end of those six months. Therefore, my boss suggested an extension of my contract for another six months.

I realize an extension makes sense, but I am not capable of staying that long.

The work itself is interesting and rewarding but the surrounding circumstances are becoming increasingly unbearable for me. For this reason and the fact that I already made (personal, non-professional) plans for the second half of the year I can extend for three months maximum.

During this time I can finish the thesis work but might not be able to finish some other (tedious, time consuming) work that is not directly part of the thesis.

Questions:

  • Is it acceptable/professional to tell my boss I can only extend for three months (for mainly personal reasons) as opposed to the six months he deems necessary?

  • Am I in some way obliged to stay for as long as my boss thinks that he will need me?

  • If asked, do I have to disclose why I cannot stay longer?

  • 2
    An extension is a change to an agreement. You're free to negotiate any changes however you like, or even just decline them. Nothing's legally forcing you to disclose why you can't stay longer, but a good reason will logically make them more receptive to your proposal. – Dukeling Jan 22 '18 at 16:28
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Is it acceptable/professional to tell my boss I can only extend for three months (for mainly personal reasons) as opposed to the six months he deems necessary?

Yes. Extending or renewing a contract is a negotation. Both sides must find the terms acceptable, and both sides can explain what terms they think will work for them. You'll both need to agree to the terms, so your boss could say "6 months or nothing", in which case you are free to decide if you want to sign that or not.

Or am I in some way obliged to stay for as long as my boss thinks that he will need me?

Of course not. That would be pretty close to a form of imprisonment, if you boss could force you to sign a new contract and stay against your wishes.

If asked, do I have to disclose why I cannot stay longer?

No, that's personal. You could, if you think it would somehow help, or you could just cite "personal reasons" and leave it open.

1

Besides the considerations of the other good answer, would it not making sense making it clear to your superior that if you continue to be handed down tasks not related to your thesis, that you risk not being able to finish it on time?

I was more than once on your shoes, too much (unrelated) work in my plate was deteriorating my commitment to the business side that really brought the big bucks home, and I just communicated to my superiors we would need someone else to take care of the unrelated grunt work; other person was brought on to the team in a short while.

If they are so interested on your master thesis, I believe they will take care at least of you not getting handed down work other people does not want to do.

  • To clarify: the other work is related to the topic of the thesis and is somehow necessary for the company to use my work in daily business. But this is not my priority right now as the theoretical work has to be done first. If I still have time then I will try to finish these other tasks but the way they want this to be done is really time consuming. That's why my boss thinks we will need another six months. – cragcrawl Jan 23 '18 at 9:00
  • @cragcrawl As you say, priorities have to be established in any project. It should not be your problem that if management does not do their job, and does not establish priorities that another 6 months are needed. After the 6 months, what that will be, another year? Indentured servitude for life? You must look out for your interests. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 23 '18 at 9:02
  • As a side story, I once went abroad as an Erasmus student just to escape your situation. I already had relevant work experience under my belt, and they just offered me what I saw as servitude working without pay that brought little benefit for my CV. I went to the UK for working in a kind of pure investigation project not reporting to any bosses. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 23 '18 at 9:08
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    You are right, it should not be my problem. I accepted the offer under the impression that I would be done after six months. I even relocated temporarily. But I also made plans for the time after. I really enjoy researching on my own but my boss always slows me down when I present him my ideas. This is not a working environment where I could be happy in the long run. Thanks for your input! – cragcrawl Jan 23 '18 at 9:38
-3

Actually you could change your plans and extend longer than 6 months. But that does not matter. You get to decide if you want to extend and for how long.

Just say:

I can extend for 3 months.

If he asks why tell him:

I should be done with my thesis and have made other plans.

If he continues to push then just say:

Personal plans.

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