I am working as a paid intern on a project and my contract states it ends at the end of the month. It also states it is my job to prepare a project to be published. I am struggling with the topic I am working on and am not making the same progress as with my previous project. It feels like I do not have the knowledge to make progress as it is all very new to me.

I don’t understand what is going to happen at the end of the month as I don’t believe it could be published in that time. If I don’t have a project finished by the end of the month am I obliged to finish the project even though my contract will have passed its end date? I really don’t know what to do as I don’t want to have to leave on bad terms. My first project went well but with this one I am struggling.

  • 16
    Have you voiced this concern to your direct manager?
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 6, 2021 at 4:10
  • 2
    What kind of publication? A blog post on the company web site? A serious scientific journal? Is the type of publication specified in the contract? Are you a grad student? An undergrad? or out of University? In what country is this? Dec 6, 2021 at 4:14
  • 4
    You should have this conversation with them, there is some time to either change your contract, or fill you in on what needs to be done, but if you just wait, the chances of "leaving on bad terms" grows.
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 6, 2021 at 4:23
  • 1
    Without reading your contract its impossible to tell what your obligations are.
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 6, 2021 at 4:31
  • 1
    That question has already been asked but you haven't edited the question or directly answered it: Are you working in academia? If that's the case, you may want to ask on academia instead.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 6, 2021 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


You should discuss your concerns with your direct manager asap. Only they can help to clarify your obligations to the project and also help you fill the gaps you need to complete the project.

Be sure to do it as soon as possible because this leaves more room to make changes for everyone.

And try not to stress too much. Project delays happen all the time due to various reasons.

Edit based upon your comments: Do not offer to work for free until the project is finished. Do not offer to work for free at all. It is your responsibility to do all you can within the office hours to see the project done. However it is your managers responsibility to provide you with guidance and help you to do your job. This time, by clarifying the situation with you and taking appropriate steps to move forward with the project. And because you are an intern, this is even more true. Just inform them so they can do their job.


You leave when your contract ends. If the publication is not finished, then the company can offer to employ you for another month, but they can't force you. If you don't agree, or they don't offer an extension of the contract, someone else will have to finish the publication.

In many places working for free is illegal. Which means even if you offered working for free, the company still has to pay you. If they don't, you have several years to sue them for the payment. So it is very unlikely that a company in the Western world would accept such an offer. And of course it is against your interest. In my company, if an inexperienced intern offered this, my boss or his manager would take him aside and tell him the exact same thing.

  • You leave when your contract ends IF you are an employee, and not an independent contractor. An independent contractor may be compelled to work to complete whatever project and the "duration" in the contract could be just an indicative figure of expected timelines. Dec 7, 2021 at 6:47

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