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I'm an undergraduate (2nd year) computer engineering student studying full time. I've been working part time as a programmer for 8 months now, and although I love the company and boss, I'm not learning much anymore here and feel ready to move on. Over my coming uni break (December-February), I want to intern overseas (Germany) so I can see my long distance boyfriend and family and still earn some money on the side. However, since I'll obviously have to quit my current job before I go on a three month vacation, I'd like to have some free time to get into freelancing or learn new software skills so I have an easier time getting a paycheck once I'm back home - hence wanting to work part-time. I'm an independent student paying rent, so not working is never an option.

My question is: how many employers are willing to hire a software contractor/intern on a part time basis? When talking to potential employers, at what point during the discussion should I ask if they'll take me part time? Is this so unreasonable that I'd be better off just trying to break into freelancing now?

closed as off-topic by Justin Cave, Lilienthal, gnat, Retired Codger, Chris E Aug 8 '16 at 14:55

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  • What country are you in at the moment? That may affect whether you need a work visa, and the types of visa that you qualify for. – PeteCon Aug 8 '16 at 4:49
  • I calculate you have a 50% chance 20% of the time and a 100% chance 10% of the time. Seriously, how can anyone authoritatively answer this question? – FiringSquadWitness Aug 8 '16 at 4:53
  • @Pete I live in Australia. I've read it takes a couple of months to process a work visa for Germany so I'm trying to sort this out ahead of time. – Katerina B. Aug 8 '16 at 4:59
  • VTC. You seem to be asking for personal advice on your career here. The broader topics you raise at the end are too nebulous or broad to answer properly. Frankly, you're lucky to have a part-time internship that lets you afford housing and you're accepting as fact that you need to resign over the break before even asking your current employer. I also seriously doubt that you have nothing left to learn at your current job and you'd almost certainly burn a bridge there if you left. Finally, if "not working is not an option" then that vacation may also not be an option. – Lilienthal Aug 8 '16 at 7:59
  • Note that my last comment was in reference to finding a different internship back home after the vacation before I even realised you want to get an internship in another country for 3 months over the new year, and to start in less than 3 months while you consider it a holiday. The fact that I'm running out of formatting to use for emphasis should tell you something of how utterly naive that goal is. The fact that you think 3 months is "ahead of time" for something like this is just baffling. – Lilienthal Aug 8 '16 at 8:04
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Anything is possible but this strikes me as unlikely.

An intern is expected to have a rather steep learning curve. The intern has to learn about the company, the business, the company's systems and processes, plus whatever project(s) you hope the intern can work on, etc. It is hard enough to come up with a project that an intern can come in for 3 months and make reasonable progress on if they are working full time. Part time is going to mean that it will take much more time to come up to speed and will drastically reduce what the intern might accomplish. Plus, if you are planning to freelance on the side and to visit a boyfriend, the company is realistically going to worry about where your priorities will be, how you'll juggle competing deadlines, etc. Companies generally don't like regular employees to moonlight, they're going to be even less enthusiastic about interns doing so.

December through February is a rather poor time to have an intern. Lots of people are going to be out of the office for significant parts of December and January for the holidays. That makes scheduling much harder and further reduces what an intern might accomplish.

Getting work visas is a lot of work for the company. Doing that work in order to get, say, 12 20 hour weeks of work from an intern or 240 total hours (less if you plan on taking time off for Christmas or New Year) would grossly inefficient. You'd spend a tremendous amount of time for management and HR to complete the paperwork for a relatively minor return.

Finally, companies run good internship programs not just because they hope that the interns will do something useful but because it's a way of recruiting. Hiring an intern that doesn't even live in the country would be an issue. Companies that run internships are also going to structure their programs around the schedules of local universities so they can get a number of interns at the same time and save costs by doing things like holding a "Welcome to Acme" class for 30 interns rather than 1. Your summer break probably doesn't line up well with the host country's university system so you'd likely be asking them to have a single intern and get none of the cost savings of having intern classes.

  • Thank you for the insightful answer. You raised some points I didn't really consider. – Katerina B. Aug 8 '16 at 5:31
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    Yes, this. Plus if a company does parttime-internships (the position is often called "Werkstudent") it's usually for at least half a year and parallel to the university classes. We like our "Werkstudenten" to stick with us during their whole time at university, adjusting their weekly hours according to the needs of their current schedule, so we can give them longterm projects. Some leave after their first 6 month contract but most of them stay and some have been at the company longer than me. – Sumyrda Aug 8 '16 at 6:13
  • +1 for excellent advice that OP needed to hear, -1 for answering an ill-defined question, though I suppose this is a bit long for comments. Could the question be reworked to something that this answer applies to? – Lilienthal Aug 8 '16 at 8:07

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