We understand that sometimes unforeseen circumstances may require you to end your internship earlier than expected. Whether it’s due to a family emergency, finding a more suitable opportunity, or any other reason, it's crucial to handle this situation professionally and effectively. It is important to end any opportunity with all parties feeling positive and with mutual agreement, to enable your long-term career success. Many companies will ask for references, which will be given by past employers. Ending your internship positively will help this reference be more favourable, which will impact your future career.
Below, we have outlined steps to help you navigate this process in a proactive and professional way.
If you did not sign a King’s Host Agreement, because your opportunity is extracurricular, only sections 1-4 and 8 will apply to you.
1. Consider the reason why you want to terminate the opportunity
Before making the decision to end your opportunity early, it’s essential to thoroughly evaluate the reasons behind your choice. Sometimes, the challenges faced during an internship or opportunity can be resolved through open communication, negotiation, and flexibility. Also, sometimes challenges can be temporary or the result of miscommunication.
Here are a variety of issues and points to consider for each of them before you decide to terminate the opportunity:
Conflict with your supervisor or line manager
Before ending your internship altogether, consider whether you are willing to have an honest conversation and turn the situation around. Explain your concerns calmly, clearly and professionally (Top Tip – avoid the “blame game”, instead of “you didn’t do this”, use sentences like “when you did X I felt Y” or “my understanding of X was Y, is this what you meant?”). Express your desire to resolve any misunderstandings or issues. Be open to feedback and try to find common ground. In many cases, miscommunications can be clarified, leading to a more positive and enjoyable working relationship and environment.
Feeling overwhelmed or underutilised
Explore whether there are avenues that can help the work you are doing be more adequate and meaningful. Talk to your supervisor about your workload. They might not be aware of your situation. Discuss your skills and interests; perhaps there are tasks or projects more aligned with your abilities. Conversely, if you feel underutilised, request additional responsibilities that align with your learning objectives. (Top Tip – if you are early on in your internship it is very normal for your workload to be reduced as you settle into the role, so speak to your line manager about the timelines for your workload). Effective communication can lead to a more fulfilling experience.
Personal or family emergency
When things happen in our family life, it is hard to concentrate on work. Before you decide to end the opportunity, consider whether you would be open to alternative arrangements, such as working remotely so you can visit family, or working part-time or reduced hours so you can still tend to your emergency while gaining experience. Everyone goes through this at one point or another, and usually managers/supervisors will be empathic towards you and willing to make arrangements for you. However, you are not obliged to disclose information, so you can simply tell them you have had a change of circumstances. If after considering this, you still wish to end your opportunity, follow the steps outlined in sections 3 and 8.
Health issues or mental well-being concerns
Your health and well-being are paramount. If you’re facing health issues or struggling with your mental well-being, consider discussing this with your supervisor or HR department. Many companies have support systems in place, such as employee assistance programs that they may wish to extend to you. If useful, consult a healthcare professional and request reasonable adjustments as appropriate at work. However, if this is not available to you, and you are still a registered student at King’s, please refer to the well-being services we offer.
More suitable opportunity elsewhere
It is important to handle this situation delicately. You must thoroughly consider the ramifications of this choice before making any decisions and confirming anything with employers. Before you leave your current opportunity, you should consider how this will impact your professional reputation; whether the new opportunity is one that can be deferred until the end of your current one, and your learning: is the new opportunity going to give you something different and valuable compared to the one you are undertaking now? If you have considered this and strongly feel the new one is the one for you, handle the situation carefully by following the advice in Sections 3 and 8.
Not enjoying the company culture or workplace environment
If you find it hard to enjoy the company culture, consider speaking to your colleagues or supervisor about your concerns. They might provide insights or guidance on adapting to the workplace environment. If, after open communication, you still feel uncomfortable, ending the opportunity might be the best option for both parties.
Remember, communication is key. Open and honest conversations can often resolve issues and lead to a more positive internship experience. If, after attempting to address your concerns, you still believe ending the internship is the best course of action, follow the steps outlined in the previous sections to handle the situation professionally.
It is also important to note that just because this company or opportunity may not be suitable for you to work there at this moment in time, it doesn't mean they may not be the best employer for you in the future. Leave ensuring the door is always open to you.
2. What are your rights? (UK-based work only)
This will highly depend on your contract and whether you are classed as a “worker”, “employee” or a different term. Each term requires a different level of responsibility from the company. You can find out more on the Government website, and learn about unions that could help your case, if you feel your employer is being unfair or unreasonable.
The Citizens Advice group also have some resources to help you learn what is legally acceptable and unacceptable in a work setting.
3. Communicating with your employer
Explain Your Situation: Be honest and transparent about your reasons for leaving early if you wish to disclose while emphasising the positives of your experience during your time undertaking the opportunity.
Discuss Flexibility: Inquire about the possibility of remote work or alternative arrangements if you wish to continue working with them, but your circumstances have changed. Some employers might be open to this, others might not. Regardless, maintain professionalism in your communication.
Ideally, you will want to carry out this communication in person, and then follow up with an email detailing the conversation and the outcome of this. For conversation starters and pointers, please see section 4.
If your opportunity is remote and you do not have the chance to call your manager to discuss this, here is a template message you can email them to start the proceedings:
Dear [Employer’s Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to discuss the possibility of ending my opportunity with [Company Name] earlier than originally planned. Unfortunately, due to [if you wish to disclose, mention the reason, e.g., a family emergency. Otherwise, you could just say “a change of circumstances”], I am unable to continue my internship until the agreed-upon end date of [enter original end date]. I would need to finish on [specify last day you can work].
[If you want alternative arrangements to continue working with them, add this paragraph]: Although my circumstances have changed, I am open to exploring alternative work arrangements so that I can complete the tasks I was set. For this, I would need [enter the specific arrangements, e.g. working remotely, working part-time, etc.]. Is this something you would be open to explore?
I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to work with [Company Name], and I have enjoyed my time here. I understand the importance of completing my responsibilities, and I am willing to assist in the transition process in any way possible.
I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this further with you at your earliest convenience. Please let me know a time that works for you.
Thank you for your understanding.
[Your Full Name]
[Your King’s Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]
4. Conversation starters for honest exchanges
For the situations outlined in section 1, it may be easier said than done to have these conversations. To help you take this step, here we outline a number of conversation starters/pointers to aid with this process. Bear in mind that terminating your opportunity is a last resort, and having a conversation to help overcome an obstacle or ask for adjustments might help solve your situation without having to end the opportunity altogether.
Needing adjustments to continue your opportunity
“I have been enjoying working here. After [specify time period] at [company name], I think certain adjustments could help me work better and be more productive. Can we discuss this together to see what solutions would work best for both of us?”
Change of circumstances resulting in you needing remote work or less hours
“I need to speak with you about something important. I have had [a change in personal circumstances/a family or personal emergency] that is going to impact my work. I would love to continue working for you, and rather than leaving the opportunity early, I was wondering whether you are open to discussing [remote work/less hours] for my continued contribution to [company name].”
Conflict with your supervisor or line manager
“I wanted to speak with you about my time at [company name]. I feel we have not always seen eye-to-eye, or agreed on certain things. I have felt X when you have done Y, and this is affecting my time at the company. I would like to find a resolution together with you, so our experience going forward can be more positive.”
Health issues or wellbeing concerns
“I wanted to speak with you about something that has been impacting not just my work, but my [health/wellbeing]. Firstly, I wanted to ask if there is anything we can do to reduce the negative impact X is having on me. What mitigation methods can we adopt? Secondly, if this has not helped my [health/wellbeing] within one working week, I will need further help. Does [company name] have a health/wellbeing programme I could take part in?”
More suitable opportunity elsewhere
“I wanted to speak with you about my time at [company name]. I have really enjoyed the time here, I have learnt [insert skills], and truly value the genuine connections this job has allowed me to make with other employees. However, I am in a difficult situation. I have been offered a different position, and after thoroughly thinking about it, I believe taking this will benefit my learning as I will be able to do X and Y, which is one of my goals. I cannot pass up this opportunity, so I will have to end this internship earlier than expected, but I want to make sure I complete my outstanding tasks and help with this difficult transition.”
Not Enjoying Your Company Culture or Workplace Environment
“I need to have a conversation with you about my time at [company name]. In my time here, I have found it a challenge to truly enjoy the [culture of the company/team]. This is something that is affecting my work, and my ability to see myself enjoying the rest of this opportunity. Are there any resources the company has that could help make my time here easier, or would you have any other suggestions? I want to make it work.”
5. Did you sign a King’s Host Agreement?
If there is a King’s Host Agreement in place for the opportunity that you wish to terminate early, below is what the King’s Host Agreement states regarding early termination:
Section 11 of Appendix B refers to Termination, Complaints, Misconduct & Appeals. 11.1 states the following:
The Agreement may be terminated or the duration of the internship extended or shortened by mutual agreement, in writing, between the Student and the Host Organisation, provided that any extension or shortening of the duration of the opportunity is also approved by King’s.
6. Understanding King's Policies
For Credit-Bearing opportunities: If your opportunity is part of your course, you may need to complete the remaining hours through an alternative opportunity. Contact your academic convener or the Global Placements Team (as appropriate) immediately for guidance on this matter. For Extracurricular Opportunities: this does not affect your course, but if you have signed a King’s Host Agreement, informing the King’s Internships team and your academic department is courteous and can help maintain positive relationships. In both cases you will need to contact the King’s Internships team or the Global Placements team if you are undertaking a Year Industry for an Early Termination Agreement.
7. Example Email to Internships/Global Placements Team: Requesting Early Termination Agreement (only if you have signed a King’s Host Agreement)
Available upon engagement with us
To: email@example.com or Global-Placements@kcl.ac.uk (as appropriate)
Cc: Your academic department or accredited internship module lead
Subject: Request for Early Termination Agreement
Dear [Internships/Global Placements] Team,
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to formally request an Early Termination Agreement for my internship with [Company Name]. Unfortunately, due to [mention the reason, e.g., a family emergency], I am unable to continue my internship until the agreed-upon end date stated in the original internship agreement.
Below are the details required for the agreement:
My King’s Email Address: [Your University Email Address]
Employer's Name and Email Address Who Signed the Original Agreement: [Employer’s Name, Employer’s Email Address]
Academic Department Email Address (or Indicate Graduate Status): [Academic Department Email Address]
Name of the Person Who Signed the Original Agreement on Behalf of the University (if known): [Name of the Person, if available]
I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please let me know if there is any other information required from my end.
Thank you for your understanding and assistance.
[Your Full Name]
[Your University Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]
8. Professional Closure
Complete Pending Tasks: If possible, finish any pending tasks and hand them over professionally. A handover (summary of tasks you have completed, anything you have pending, and important information they should be aware of after you leave) would also be appropriate to give to your employer, to ensure they, or a colleague, can carry out your work if anything needs resolving after you have left. It also shows them how much work you have done.
Express Gratitude: Thank your employer for the opportunity and express regret for the early departure. Leaving on good terms is crucial for future references, as well as potential future job opportunities.
Remember, every situation is unique. The key is to communicate openly, honestly, and professionally. By following these steps, utilising the provided email templates, obtaining an Early Termination Agreement, and respecting the policies of both your employer and King’s, you can navigate the early termination of your internship with grace and maintain positive relationships with all parties involved.
Though now may not be the right time for you to undertake this opportunity or work with this organisation, you may wish to revisit this role/company in the future. As such, it is best to always leave on good terms and .