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I am an intern at one of the major Silicon Valley Companies. I was recruited last December to work in a team for 8 months, which I gladly accepted. My signed offer letter says I would be interning for 8 months. I should mention that I am a PhD (international) student in EE from a different state where the internship job is based. The Employment term stipulates the payment of a stipend allowance to subsidize living costs in the state of the internship. The thing is my school's international office does not give CPT's for 8 months. Rather, I was given a 5 month CPT to start with, with the hope that I could renew the CPT when the first CPT expires.

Last week, the employment mobility in the company told me my stop date was May (presumably due to the CPT that the school issued to me originally). I brought this up with my manager (who also happens to be the one who recruited me) and confirmed verbally with him that my employment letter states 8 months. I also told him that I already completed my CPT for the summer from the school and it has been approved. I can't just quit now as I gave up my funding from my University for the summer semester due to his word. He said he would check with HR and resolve the discrepancy. To my bafflement, he went ahead and told HR to terminate my offer in May simply because of the CPT issue. I told him I had rented an apartment based on his informing me that he needed me for 8 months and I cannot afford to break my lease at this point as it would hurt my credit. I also mentioned that I gave up my funding in the summer semester based on the agreement I signed with the company. He showed no remorse and told me I was too expensive for him to keep because Corporate mobility pays me the subsidized living costs each month since I was recruited out of state. Other interns in the department I work are from the company area and they only take monthly salaries.

I feel he is taking advantage of a loophole in the CPT that was approved on a termly basis by the school as other interns from other schools had their CPT for the entire period of their offer letter. What would you suggest I do?

EDIT: May 15, 2016

Thanks to everyone who responded, empathized and advised. I met with the HR person, a day after this post, and she scheduled a meeting involving her, myself and the manager in question. Senior management seems to be looking for a summer intern with relevant experience similar to mine and it seems that they would be extending my internship in the spirit that I would be working in that newly available position.

Again, thanks for all your comments!

  • Ouch, not a good situation at all :-( – Kilisi May 3 '16 at 2:27
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    You may not be able to save yourself, but let the university know so that it does not happen to others – Retired Codger May 3 '16 at 15:24
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    Check your lease, you may have a clause in there that you can break it if you move out of town.Or you may be able to sublease to the new batch of incoming interns. – HLGEM May 3 '16 at 17:31
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    "I was too expensive for him to keep" - it sounds like you've lost the relocation stipend, but if he could be convinced to keep you on just the monthly salary would that be better than nothing? Obviously the lease would still be a problem, but you might be able to scrape by for a short time. Conversely you could make yourself more valuable to your boss that he'd be willing to keep paying for you, but that's next to impossible to do at very short notice unless e.g. you can see a new way to apply your PhD thesis to one of your boss's biggest problems? – Rup May 3 '16 at 23:15
  • Techie001, we just approved an edit to your post that we assume is from you. In the future, be sure to log in to your account so that you don't need community approval to edit your posts. If this was not you, please edit the question and rollback the revision. – David K May 16 '16 at 17:22
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+50

If you're receiving academic credit through this CPT, you might find it prudent to get in touch with someone at your university about your issue.

Regularly, an employment contract—whether temporary or permanent—will contain all the major stipulations, however, from what I can tell is that you've signed an offer letter. An offer letter differs fundamentally from an employment contract in that the contract is very thorough in what can and can't happen, and includes severance clauses that make it very detrimental to breach. An offer letter is a little bit more tentative. You can often find at-will employment sections in offer letters such as:

"Your employment will be at-will, meaning that [the Company] may terminate your employment at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice..."

And so hence the provisions of your offer letter may not constitute an argument herein. I do however suspect that there is something contractual here between your university and the internship employer that you should probably have addressed, again, by someone at the university.

To go any further in the matter you will undoubtedly need legal advice, as I'm not a lawyer, but from my standpoint now it would seem that for whatever reasons it's whoever issued the incorrect CPT duration who is at fault and needs to be spoken with.

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    It's really unfortunate to end up in this situation. Definitely contact the university and see what they say. However, would the OP really want to continue working there if the company were somehow forced to take him back? It's one of those "be careful what you wish for" situations. My sympathies to the OP. – AndreiROM May 3 '16 at 2:19
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    I think of it like: Internships are the new entry-level job, and regardless of his experience at that company, it's a positive addition to OPs C.V. The biggest issue is that financial burden, and it borders for me on promissory estoppel because frankly all the employer had to do was keep his word. – CKM May 3 '16 at 2:56
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I understand your situation but i don't think the manager is at fault. you are giving him excuses for accomodation issues etc. This is not at all warranted as a professional. It sounds like a rant against the manager. He already told you the reason as to why he cannot keep you. I think what you should do is try to see how you can resolve the situation. For e.g sublease your apt for the next 2-3 months , look for new assignment , resolve any CPT issues. There is not much you can do against the manager or the co who hired you. Any employment can be terminated at any time . Look to the future and start resolving issues instead of being stuck on issues you cannot resolve.

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    +1 for a pragmatic answer, and that may be all the OP can do, but the manager is definitely at fault, the OP had a verbal commitment from him which he didn't honour which is the direct cause of the extra expenses. – Kilisi May 6 '16 at 8:13
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You can be fired. And unless you have a verbal or written proof of the fact that you would be hired for 8 months and would recieve Money for your accomodations for the entire 8 months. Its not looking good for you.

I would say go and make a request at the internal Monitoring Group of your Company. I know mine is called betriebsrad. In any Country that Group should have enough power to give you your remaining 3 months. Since legally a verbal Agreement followed by a contract is confirming the verbal Agreement for any period shorter than 1 year in most Country's.

Other than that go look for a Job that can cover your expenses or try and make a Agreement with your leasher. Or ask for a larger hour contract for less hourly pay. Yes this is gonna eat your free time, but you would't be the first one to work 2 fulltime Jobs. Debt is evil and should be fought by effort not complaining.

Comeing back to your initial mistake:

Rather, I was given a 5 month CPT to start with, with the hope that I could renew the CPT when the first CPT expires.

This is something you shouldn't have risked. I would have rented a accomodation for 5 months and then look for the next 3 if applicable.

  • "betriebsrad [...] In any Country [...] should have enough power." I see, you are a European (German?) with no experience of at-will employment, which is common in the United States. – Alexander May 6 '16 at 11:56
  • Well i work in Germany atm, but the laws on this subject are not that different. I have looked it up, because i considered a internship in the us which was offered to me by a Networking Relationship of my father. – Raoul Mensink May 6 '16 at 12:01

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