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I have the opportunity to intern for a company over the summer and I am very excited for it. The company has several locations and they thought that my background and interests match a team that works from a location which is not the HQ.

The team at that location is smaller and I am skeptical about joining that because I feel I will have less support. How do I ask the HR for change of location politely?

  • Do you seriously believe that a larger company would give you more support :-)?? – user90842 Mar 7 at 22:17
  • Less support from whom? Your teammates? – DarkCygnus Mar 7 at 22:21
  • Also, you state that HR feels you are better match for such place... but is there room for negotiation here, or is this the offer they are giving you? – DarkCygnus Mar 7 at 22:24
  • How much support do you think you will need in an intern position? – Kilisi Mar 7 at 23:08
  • @DarkCygnus I meant support from teammates, in case I get stuck doing something. The HR did say that I could ask for relocation if I didn't like the project. I think the project is interesting but I did express my concern about the team size to the manager. – user128949 Mar 8 at 0:00
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The team at that location is smaller and I am skeptical about joining that because I feel I will have less support. How do I ask the HR for change of location politely?

Actually, in smaller teams there is much more synergy and communication flow.

In all my experiences with teams of different sizes, those of smaller size tend to be more supportive with their members, as they tend to know each other better and work along better.

This is why I suggest you don't worry about not having enough support, and focus on weighting the other factors that matter instead to decide if you want to take it (work you will be doing, tools and tech you will use, etc.).

Surely in any team you end up in there will be times were you could feel lost. When that happens make sure to ask for help to your colleagues and superior. Remember that this is an internship and what matters here is that you learn as much as you can, so you can be better prepared and experienced for any future job you take.

Still, if this location issue worries you, feel free to politely ask HR for clarification. Perhaps something like:

I was looking at the team you mentioned before, and it looks quite interesting. I happened to notice that it is smaller in size compared to other teams, and I was wondering if this will affect the interaction and support given withing the team?

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First, you can't possibly know that you would have a better or worse experience at head office or in the smaller location. Even if you could prove that such a theory is true in general, that doesn't make it true for this company.

Second, the company has chosen to have intern experiences at several locations and it has offered you a specific place. You don't know why they chose as they did: perhaps different locations use different tech, and you have a background they need there and will have a chance to shine. Perhaps they are making sure they don't put all the men in one place and all the women in another, or in some other way keep all the teams diverse. It's possible they just assigned people to locations arbitrarily (say, alphabetically by last name) but they have told you the exact opposite, namely

my background and interests match a team

They know your background and interests. They know the location and teams. But you have this strong belief that only HQ can give a good intern experience, so you're going to ask them to change your location. A request which would mean changing someone else's location (according to you, giving that person a worse experience) and generally require a lot of effort.

If this request came to me I would not only deny it, I would think less of the intern for asking. I would probably not go so far as to cancel the internship, but I would be annoyed that someone thought they could do my job better than me without knowing any of the details of the teams, projects, other interns, locations, and so on.

Please, do not ask. Go, enjoy your internship, and with any luck you will have a great experience.

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You say you do not have a lot of work experience. One of the benefits of an internship is an opportunity to experience a work environment, and find out if you like it or not, rather than guessing. Since your current opportunity is at a smaller workplace, learn what that is like before rejecting small workplaces.

As far as support is concerned, one or two people who can explain things well and are willing to help you are quite enough. A hundred people who are too busy with their aspects of the project to make time for you would not help.

Simply looking at workplace size is a poor predictor of what sort of support you will get.

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Let's focus at one key aspect in your question:

[....]because I feel I will have less support.[....]

Yes, right, that's your assumption. Because you "feel" that way and there's zero evidence to support your "theory".

Don't make assumptions and don't let your decisions be driven by assumptions.

The company is likely to have chosen your allocation based on

  1. Your competence area
  2. The internal requirement

The team that you are allocated to, is likely to have the best shot at educating you as an intern and you'd also likely to have the best opportunity to learn and grow.

To provide one example, the ideal team size for an agile team is 3-7, people would like to keep is contained, so there's not much time and effort needed to communicate, interface and collaborate.

Bottom line: Don't fight the assignment just because "you feel" that the location is smaller and not the HQ and you'll not be the best fit there. You are there to learn, focus on that aspect. If, after joining, you found that you are not getting the support required or the allocation is not aligned with your best interests, you can request HR for a re-assessment and reallocation (if needed), not before that.

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