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In the summer before my first year of college I applied for and was given a paid programming internship. In the interview, it was clear that I wasn't sure about the time commitment I would be able to make during the school year, but that during the breaks I would be able to work full time. I did work full time over that summer and during the breaks since then, but during the school quarters, I've worked only 10 hours a week.

The work environment is very fast-paced there, so it's difficult for me to be productive when I'm only there for 5 hours on two days of the week. There are two main problems. First is that every time I go in, I need to catch up on what's been done since last time I was there (and anything else I'm not up to speed on) and then work on top of that. Second, I can only work on quick and simple tasks, since I might not complete anything else in the time that I'm at work.

I've now been offered a remote job with much better pay and in a field that I am much better in than my current job. My hesitation in accepting is that I'll be burning a bridge with my current company to leave before I've had a chance to do any significant work for them.

I haven't brought up my concerns about lack of productivity to my manager because I don't think there's anything that can be changed. I simply can't work more hours and I can't do much more with the hours I am working.

I've read many of the questions here, so I know the general advice is that the employer should expect that an employee can and will leave. My manager is a very reasonable person and someone I get along with, so perhaps he would handle it well, but I'm worried that this will be unexpected.

7

It's an internship, which has two purposes: your growth, and the company getting to evaluate a potential future employee at very low cost. You don't have a long-term commitment with them.

I would have a meeting with your current supervisor and tell him about this other opportunity and that you want to experience another corporate culture and try your hand at different challenges before you graduate. He may try to influence your transition date, but he'll almost certainly be quite supportive of your choice. It's much much easier for them if you leave now, as an intern who doesn't have major responsibilities, than if this happened after graduating and working full-time with them for a year or two.

You may close a door if you say that your current environment isn't a good fit, etc., in the sense that they might or might not let you come back if you change your mind. But I don't see any risk of souring the relationship or losing a good recommendation, because you chose not to intern with the same group throughout your undergraduate years.

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Let's put it this way: looking forward, the chances are infinitesimal that you are going to be able to do anything for your current employer on 10 hours a week. In this case, the past is a pretty good prediction of the future. Hand in the two-week notice, say something nice to your employer about your experience working for him, ask for a reference and just get out of there. To be cynical, I am pretty sure that your employer will have no trouble getting a replacement for you since you barely got anything done - In case you didn't get it yet, you won't be missed :) And you are doing the replacement a favor by vacating the premises since the odds are good that the replacement needs the money and the sooner you vacate the premises, the sooner the replacement can have some money coming in.

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