1

So here's the situation:

About to graduate and an intern at this major company, and I've been working for Department A since January. They've taught me a lot and bent over backwards for me, but I think the team is only ok and the location isn't great. Since my contract isn't binding, I can always back out. There was an internal career fair and my manager did want to keep me though she didn't stop me from talking to the other department heads. My manager also said that if I was looking for a new job, that I need to let her know as soon as possible...but I've read that it can verryyyy easily backfire as the company will let you go as soon as possible.

Department B is where I've always wanted to go, and the recruiter approached me recently. It's more in line with where I want to be professionally, the location is better, the pay about the same, and I have more friends in this city. It also seems risky telling the recruiter about my situation because what if it implies that I am constantly on the lookout and ready to jump ship at any time?

It seems risky telling my situation and the way I feel to either my manager or the recruiter, so my question is, how do I go about communicating with my current manager and the recruiter that has contacted me without alienating myself in the process?

2

You're looking at an internal transfer and you're an intern so the standard advice about not telling your manager isn't terribly relevant.

The reason, in general, that you don't want to tell your current manager about plans to depart is that they would be tempted to either scale back your responsibilities or let you go immediately. That's not a major concern if you are trying to set up an internal transfer. It can make some sense for an employer to let an employee go if they're known to be actively seeking a new position-- that makes it more likely that the employee is going to be hampering morale, shirking existing responsibilities, or actively working against the company by doing things like assembling client lists. It makes no sense for a company to let an intern go because that intern is interested in transferring to a different department within the same company-- it's not like there is a risk that you're going to bring confidential information from one department to another in the same organization. Similarly, it can make sense for a company to limit an employee's responsibilities when they're known to be actively working-- you wouldn't want to give someone a major project only to have them leave just as they're getting up to speed. That generally isn't a concern when you're just an intern, however, since interns generally have the lowest priority work and a fixed departure date-- they're generally working on tasks that other people in the team could pick up.

Most likely, your manager asked for a heads up about your intentions so that he or she can figure out whether they need to actively fill a position on the team or whether you'll be filling that position. It sounds like your manager has been supportive during your internship and supportive of you attending the internal career fair. Letting your manager know that you're looking at other departments is the appropriate thing to do in this situation.

Additionally, it's unlikely that you'd be able to keep the information from your manager for any meaningful amount of time. Part of the internal recruitment/ transfer process undoubtedly involves asking your current manager about you. If you were going to a different company, the recruiter would generally be happy to avoid contacting your current employer-- that's not the case with internal transfers since there is no risk of being terminated for looking.

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