I am currently working full time as an intern, but now want to switch to 3-days-a-week in the fall. It is to continue finishing my graduate studies.

However, the VP who is 2 levels above me doesn't like the idea.. and wants me to come to work 5 days a week at less hours(i.e. come a few full days , and come a few half-days ).

Is it unreasonable to ask for 2-full days off. BTW I am an intern too.

  • 3
    As an intern you are asking for a great deal. You would be better off asking for a 40 hours week, and adjusting your schedule so you work perhaps 10 hours 3 days a week and 6 hours the other two days.
    – Donald
    Aug 21, 2012 at 12:32
  • 1
    Why do you need the 3 day work week? Is this for your convenience or do you have a need for the 3 day week? Aug 21, 2012 at 16:47
  • @Chad - To work on my thesis(plus the project for it). Also to have time to meet professor, if need be. Aug 21, 2012 at 17:05
  • Are there travel concerns?
    – user8365
    Aug 21, 2012 at 20:07
  • 3
    I don't think you should argue at all. Unless you don't intend to go back as a full-time student I think three 10 hour days is insane. You need to figure out how much time you can reasonably put in and still attend school and tell the company how much you can put in. While the pay from the internship might be nice, it'll be a lot less nice when you don't finish school because your grades sucked because you were working too much. Then, you will be stuck with intern pay for much longer when you could have graduated and started getting a much more sizeable paycheck for a real job.
    – Dunk
    Aug 22, 2012 at 21:14

3 Answers 3


Ask what his concern is. My guess is that it is responsiveness to emails. Not wanting to wait a day or two.

Once you know his concern, it is easier to mitigate it. For example, you could propose working Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Or to telecommute 1.5 hours on Tuesday/Thursday and work in the office 9 hours on the days you are there.

Or maybe it is that 10 hours is a long day. You could mitigate that by asking for it on a trial basis.


Jeanne's Answer is a good start but I would follow up with explaining that you need 4 days off a week to focus on finishing up your school work. Many employers forget that their Interns are also going to school and think of them just like other employees. I suspect that if your VP understood that your intent was to work on school not just have a couple extra days off to goof around there would be more willingness to work with you on your schedule.

If you are still having difficulty you might want to talk with your school's Intern adviser. Perhaps they can put a bit of pressure on the company from their side to be more flexible with your schedule. Many times companies are receiving a subsidy to have you work for them on an internship, in this case the companies do not want to risk losing out on their essentially free or low cost workers.

  • The author's situation is strange. He is working a full 40 hour week it seems plus going to school and he isn't getting the support he needs. This would indicate there is something not being said.
    – Donald
    Aug 22, 2012 at 15:50
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    @Ramhound - It is less strange than you would think. This sort of thing happens pretty regularly with companies who utilize their interns as regular employees. Over summer things are great because they are super productive when considering production/cost and the business does not want to surrender that productivity for the employee to return to school. Its very common in small to medium sized businesses. Aug 22, 2012 at 18:03

10 hours a day is a really long day - whether you are doing physical work or mental work you are not going to be able to perform at your full potential during the last 2 hours or so of the day. As far back as the early 1900's Ford (the motor company) found that the 40 hour week was the optimum length. This is normally split into 5 working days of 8 hours duration each. What's really scary is that people are still ignoring this over 100 years later.

While you might be able to meet some of the VP's objections I would expect that after a few weeks of this you'll find it hard to be productive for an increasing part of the day.

Rather than ask for a three day week, ask for a four day week and see how that goes.

  • 3
    Ford did not found that the 40 hours week was the optimum length, they found that, in a context where workers were ready to start strikes because of the too many hours a day they worked, reducing the work load to 8 h/week, 5 days/week and doubling the day salary incresed the productivity and finally the profit. Many persons think that the optimal full focus time is 1h30, so the thing is that you can work very long day if you break the day in 1h30 slots, with 15 to 30 mn between the slots. Aug 21, 2012 at 20:06

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