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I am postgraduate student in my 30s and I'm currently working as a permanent part time in a retail while taking graduate certificate in software systems in Australia. Once I completed this, I plan to get an internship so that I can gain experience. For me to do this, I plan to take unpaid leave so that I can still work after I completed the internship. The company that I worked for also has an IT division that is based in a different state.

Any advice or ideas is highly appreciated.

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    I think you probably need to clarify your intentions here. As the "company you worked for", and the company you are working for now as a permanent part time, the same company? Is your current company aware you're studying on the side? Why do you mention the company that you worked for has an IT division? Apr 18, 2022 at 10:59
  • How long of a leave are you planning on taking?
    – sf02
    Apr 18, 2022 at 14:42
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    Presumably you are studying and doing the internship to break into some line of work other than your part-time retail job. Why do you want to return to it after the internship is over?
    – Seth R
    Apr 18, 2022 at 17:14

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You need a different plan.

Retail staff are, in most cases, easily replaceable. This applies doubly so for retail staff who have indicated that their career goals are not to continue in a retail role. Unless there is something truly exceptional about you, there's just no value to your current employer in your plan so I'd say it's vanishingly unlikely they'd agree to it unless there is a legal requirement for them to do so.

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  • Some retail companies pride themselves on having "pathways" where staff transition from retail, into management, IT, or some other "white collar" job. But I do agree, if you're the run-of-the-mill salesperson, often they aren't going to go to the fuss of keeping a position open. Apr 18, 2022 at 11:01
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    @GregoryCurrie Absolutely. But I very much doubt they'd do that for someone that says "I'm want to go off and do an internship for my IT masters", that person is clearly trying to build their career elsewhere. Apr 18, 2022 at 11:10
  • Or the company they work for may not offer an internship, or an internship in that field. Apr 18, 2022 at 11:51
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    The flip side of this is that retail staff also tend to have a high turnover rate, so employers are always hiring to replace people who left. It shouldn't be hard to land another part time retail job after the internship is complete, if that's really what you want to do.
    – Seth R
    Apr 18, 2022 at 17:12
  • Thank you @Phillip and everyone for your response. I will think of another plan. Apr 19, 2022 at 7:53
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Most retailers don't have the concept of unpaid leave for salesclerks. You could certainly take a look at your particular employer's employee handbook and see if your employer offers this. But I wouldn't have high expectations.

If you accrue and maintain seniority that is beneficial (i.e. it allows you to get preferred shifts), it would be pretty common to drop your hours down to some minimal threshold. There are lots of people that work a shift every week or a shift every couple weeks while they are transitioning to a new career just to stay active in the payroll system. That generally makes it relatively easy to ramp your hours back up if you get to the end of your internship without a permanent offer on the table.

If you don't want to deal with juggling retail shifts and your internship, most retailers in the current environment are hiring pretty continually. So if you give appropriate notice when you resign, it's pretty likely that they'll happily welcome you back if you apply when your internship is coming to a close. Particularly when you're leaving for an educational opportunity rather than because you disliked the job.

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