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So I work as a software developer for a startup consisting of ~20 people in Europe which is doing very well. I've been working here for a year and a half which is all of my work experience. I'm also enrolled in a part-time degree at a local university. At the university, I got an offer for a really good internship in Japan this October for 3 months. The purpose of the internship is to teach me new technologies while working for a big company and it will also earn me university credits. After the internship is over I will fly back home.

This sounds like a great opportunity for me and I will learn a lot in an environment like that. However, I really like my current job and I don't want to quit. Instead, I want to convince them to let me on unpaid leave for the duration.

Some other things I would like to point out

  • The managers have a liberal mindset when it comes to what's best for the employee
  • I can guarantee to them I will return home and won't be recruited by the other company, simply because I don't meet the engineering work visa requirements in Japan
  • It is legal to work for the other company while still being employed
  • The company infrastructure is good and as a junior, I don't carry major responsibilities
  • I'm willing to help the company in my free time if necessary
  • The internship can be reduced to 2 months or even 1 month.
  • It will be missed probably but not crucial. We had a senior co-worker who took a 1-year maternity leave and her responsibilities were delegated evenly across the team. It didn't cause many problems once we adapted – Rasmus Kask Jun 29 at 10:56
  • Go for it. Companies in Europe are more likely to see the benefit of a free training than in the US. If the schedule is flexible that would improve your chances. – Chris Jun 29 at 11:10
  • Also due to the intensive form of the internship, I will get a much deeper knowledge in my current skills + I will learn relevant new technologies. Kind of like a Junior-to-Intermediate in 3 months. And they won't have to pay a dime for it. – Rasmus Kask Jun 29 at 11:12
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    @RasmusKask they may not have to "pay a dime" to you personally, but they will lose your work contributions for that time and that may cost them. That means possibly putting undue strain on other developers, putting projects behind schedule, or having to hire (and train) another developer temporarily to fill the void you leave. A one-year maternity leave is much easier to plan for (and likely protected by law, so the company has no choice) than a 1-3 month voluntary leave of absence. – alroc Jun 29 at 11:17
  • @alroc but they are getting another company to provide training for the OP and any reputable company may well have a CPD program, Its mandatory for some engineering disciplines – Neuromancer Jun 29 at 11:24
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Express your desire to your manager - the case you made above is pretty convincing. Your manager almost certainly cares a lot about your development and happiness. If this is something you want to do, you should expect him/her to be supportive.


In your conversation with your manager, be assertive and specific in your plans. Don’t ask for permission, tell your manager what it is you want to do and why it’s a good idea:

  1. “I’d like to take 3 months of unpaid leave starting ____ and ending ____.
  2. “As part of school, I have the opportunity to earn credits through a 3-month internship over the summer.”
  3. “Taking leave allows me to earn the credits and gain some more diverse experience from the internship.”
  4. “What should we do to make this happen?”

Only bring up the potential for reduced duration or for helping out your company in your spare time if you absolutely have to. Both are not things you should need to compromise on at a generally healthy company with a typical manager.


Good luck with the conversation - I’m sure it will go well. Enjoy the internship and the new experience!!

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Approach your manager as a member of your union, with a union rep present in the meeting. This is fundamentally a question of power in the workplace – with the power of collective bargaining, you have much more leverage over your manager than you would otherwise.

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    You'd be surprised with how much you can get away if you appeal to generosity as opposed to forcing things. Even if OP gets the placement, this would look awful. – lucasgcb Jul 1 at 13:32

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