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I have recently accepted an internship of 16 months. According to the contract, I join in May and leave in end of August next year. This is after my 3rd year engineering undergrad and I will be returning to 4th year after the job. In the last 4 months of the job, my job will include training/assimilating my replacement, the next intern.

Now, I and my family have made major travel plans for late August to early September next year and this is really important. Why I didn't try to negotiate the duration is a whole another story, but I had good reasons.

I want bring this up near the end of my work term (14th or 15th month) and leave 3 weeks earlier than I'm supposed to leave. My question is, will this have a negative impact on my future job prospects with this company or getting a referral from my managers later?

Update: I did the internship a little over 15 months. I gave notice over a month in advance and neither the team nor my replacement was upset

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    Why do you want to wait so long to bring it up? If you do this earlier they may be more amenable to your request, but if you wait until the very end it won't give them time to adjust hiring/training. – Ron Beyer Mar 16 '16 at 21:51
  • The new intern joins in May regardless of anything (unless company goes bankrupt I guess). In my mind I think (I'm no expert) it's be easier to make the case "hey the replacement is pretty awesome already, you won't miss me here" – SurprisedCat Mar 16 '16 at 21:58
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    What if the intern isn't so "awesome"? Don't wait. – Ron Beyer Mar 16 '16 at 21:59
  • Noted, then I'll bring this up earlier. But the core question remains the same. How much value does the joining contract hold? – SurprisedCat Mar 16 '16 at 22:01
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    EDIT: Just noticed you haven't even started yet. Where is the harm in asking? Seriously, just ask. You might be told no, but anyone who isn't extremely unreasonable won't care that you asked. Source: on PEY, have PEY friend that asked at another company, was told no. NBD. – Cat'r'pillar Mar 17 '16 at 21:46
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First of all, the first thing you should do is reflect on this:

Why I didn't try to negotiate the duration is a whole another story, but I had good reasons.

It sounds like you've known long before you even started the application process that you would be going on a vacation. There is really no excuse for you to hide that information from your employer.

But as you said, what's done is done. So what now?

First of all, what you're describing sounds awfully similar to the PEY program at my school, so I've been through the experience.

Generally in this program you can choose to do 12~16 months. Rarely do companies require you to do 16 months.

Even if they did, an internship is still an employment, and according to any reasonable employment contract, you have the right to quit your job. There may be rules such as a two week notice, but it's clear that it's not "illegal" or "BREAKing the contract" to quit the job a month early. People sign one year work contracts but that doesn't stop you from quitting the job if you're unhappy.

So now that we've established that you're ok and your life will not be ruined, the question is: how can you do this and not look bad?

The answer to that is similar to the other answers. Bring it up ASAP. PEY end dates are usually flexible so it's very likely that they'll just say "OK" and you're set. No reason should be needed to want to take some time off after 16 + 8 straight months of work and school.

Whether or not you get hired back as a full-time really doesn't hinge on this either. That is decided mostly on whether or not you were a good performer, so do a good job. :]

To summarize, try to bring it up soon after you start working there, before it becomes "too awkward to bring up since it's been so long". The worst that can happen is that you will need to quit your internship before the time is up.

Lastly, I think that it would be ok to say that the vacation was planned by family after you signed, if they ask, and hope they don't see this question ;). Again, next time, be more up-front about this kind of stuff!

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You accepted an internship with a set duration, knowing beforehand that you would be leaving almost a month early.

Speaking as a professional, honestly, this seems very flaky. But, I guess this is what you get when you hire students / interns. They are probably often flaky, and make commitments and then don't see them through (and make excuses about how their travel plans are just too important to meet commitments). So not the end of the world, and the company will probably survive.

In answer to your question:

Will this have a negative impact on my future job prospects with this company or getting a referral from my managers later

Depends on the manager. They know what they're getting when they hire a college intern -- cheap, inexperienced (but eager), short-term labor. If you work hard but leave early, they will probably wish you well, and may even say, "don't worry about it; enjoy your trip!" But, at the same time, depending on if you leave projects unfinished due to your early departure (that you waited until the last minute to mention), or how much this impacts your replacement's ability to get up to speed, if I was your manager it may annoy me and color my overall impression of your suitability for future hire.

I have seen interns go full time, but if you want to work for the company in the future, this may not be the best way to start.

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    I would be more disturbed by the OP making an agreement without intending to carry it out than the early leaving itself. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 17 '16 at 13:16
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    Yes I understand the POV you're talking about and I actually agree that it wasn't the best decision. But what's done is done, I am worried about what happens afterwards. Thanks for the answer :) – SurprisedCat Mar 17 '16 at 21:04
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Long story short, yes it will look bad for you to bring this up at the end of your internship. Not sure what field of engineering you are in but with CS related internships typically end dates are more flexible because schools in the US start at different times. I would pose a hypothetical to the recruiter about changing your ending date. I would not mention the reason unless they ask you, because ending early for a family vacation is not very professional (why didn't you plan vacation around your internships dates?).

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  • Not a vacation actually, a necessary travel. But "whole another story" as I said. Recruiter gave me flexibility on start date and I chose the earliest. So end date might be too as you mentioned. Thanks for the tip, good way to bring it up (y) – SurprisedCat Mar 17 '16 at 21:42
  • I know this is old, but the reason they might be taking the vacation when they are is because they have to go back to school (which is a non-negotiable start date). – Catsunami May 1 '18 at 17:53
  • School terms are usually fixed dates, so you should have known the time conflict in advance. The point here is that professionally if you need to need an internship term early, you should discuss with your manager as early as possible. Of course, this greatly varies from manager to manager. In my case, during my grad internship, I wanted to take 3 days off of my internship to attend a conference, my grad advisor told me to attend last minute. My manager didn't take this well and wanted to end my internship early 2 weeks if I wanted to go to the conference. – jcmack May 2 '18 at 20:36

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