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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Money Matters: Internships

Money+Matters%3A+Internships

Todd Erkis is a visiting professor of finance at St. Joe’s who writes weekly columns answering students’ financial questions.

 

I just found out that my summer internship won’t start until the middle of June. I was hoping to start in May, right after the semester is over so I can make more money. Is it appropriate to ask if I can start earlier? Abby N. ’22, risk management and insurance major.

 

Unfortunately, at this point of the pandemic, many employers are still uncertain about the future of their business. This impacts how many interns they will be able to support and perhaps, even how many full-time employees they will need. Therefore, it might be that your company is just not sure they can keep you busy or will be able to use your skills appropriately until later in the summer.

You can always ask to start earlier. But to make sure it goes well, I would suggest sending an email to your contact at the company with a relatively light touch. Something like, “I saw the notice of my start date in June and I am excited to start my internship with [company name]. Is there any way I could start earlier, even if it’s in another department? If not, I totally understand.” 

I always suggest being as positive as possible, showing enthusiasm for the position and giving them an out if they can’t support your request. Note that in some cases, there may not be a budget available for more hours and in some larger companies, managers cannot make their own decisions on timing for internships. It’s likely they will come back with no change to your start date ,but you never know.

One of the things I tell my students when they are interviewing is to discuss how you can help the company and not how the company can help you. The people interviewing you are not normally doing it for your benefit only. Yes, they want a happy worker, but it is not very persuasive to focus on how what you want will help you. For example, I would not say in the email that you would like to start earlier to earn more money. It can appear that you are not valuing the experience you will earn as much as how much you are paid.

Companies generally hire interns for two main reasons. Some interns are hired because the company needs specific work done (likely a special project) and believes the intern can focus on it over the summer and get it either done or substantially completed. The other main reason is for the company to evaluate whether or not to extend a full-time offer to the intern after the summer is over. This might be the case with your situation as they will still have enough time with you at the company to see what kind of a worker you are and how you fit in.

It would also be fine to decide to live with their decision (i.e., don’t ask for a change) and to get another job until this one starts. It can be impressive to show that you worked two jobs in the summer and the story of you making the best of the later start date is a nice one to have when you are interviewing for positions next year.

Good luck with it and I hope it all works out! 

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