When and How Would You Tell Work That You Have to Work Part Time?

Updated on April 16, 2012
M.M. asks from Denver, CO
13 answers

Hi, I got an internship that I have to do as a part of a requirement for a program and the placement that matched my interest the best and I was accepted to requires that I do at least 20 hours a week. It starts this September. They do not have any evening or weekend hours for interns.

I have not mentioned anything to my work, that I need to do an internship, have been looking for one, or have been accepted to one. I really feel that I need to do this internship but I need to support myself and my family too. So it would be the best if I can stay at my job, working 20 hours, but if they do not allow that, I guess I cannot continue working.

My question is, when and how should I tell my supervisor about my wish to go part time? I am wondering because as a good employee, I'd like to give my supervisor and our team a time to plan. Actually I'm wondering if this can work for my supervisor's wish to expand our team (which was denied in the past for budget reasons) - I can go part time but hire another person, expanding the team by .5FTE. Even if that plan does not work, it would be good to have the team to have time to adjust, so I'd like to tell them sooner than later.

However, if that does not work or if my supervisor is not willing to have me part time, I would have to leave the job. Then I don't like having too many months remaning at my job when everybody knows that I'm leaving.

It would be nice if my work can let me go, but probably that won't happen, they'll just wait for me to resign (choose between the internship and the job).

I would appreciate your input on how I should bring this up to my supervisor and when.

Thank you.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all your comments! Through reading your comments, I strengthened the feeling that reducing hours for an internship may not be well received at my work. The internship is not directly related to my current job (although with a slight connection to the field the company is in) and it is for a year. I'll start looking for a part time job in July. The actual timing of telling my current job, I'm still debating, but maybe I'll give them a month to 2 weeks notice (if I'm sure I'll leaving). I'll keep thinking and reread some of your comments in the process. Thanks again!

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, I guess I always default to the "earlier the better" and "honesty is the best policy" things.

I would schedule time and sit with my supervisor and just honestly explain the big picture, including that you value your job and would like to keep it through the internship, if possible.

I might wait until May/beginning of June, especially of you feel the PT idea is not going to go favorably. But not much later. You don't want to "stick" them with no O..

Kind of hard to know what to suggest not knowing what kind of work/career you have right now, but I think scheduling a face to face....even beginning with telling your supervisor that this MAY be happening in the fall, if they can place you in an internship.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would begin, in July, by saying that you need to do an internship which requires 20 hours of work and ask if there is any way that you could work half time. Think of ways that this could work and discuss your ideas with your supervisor. I would not hand in an official notice.

You not only don't want to leave them in the lurch but you also want to give them time to think of ways to restructure your position. You also want to have time to look for another job if they aren't able to have you work half-time.

It's not that unusual for a person to give this much advance notice and continue to work, especially when one is going to school. I suggest they will appreciate the advance notice. I decided to stop teaching and my supervisor knew this for months. It did not make my work day or my relationship with my supervisor uncomfortable in any way.

In my experience, employers have appreciated advanced education and would restructure if they could to support part time work.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

it sounds to me like you just need to ask your manager for a sit down , and be honest. either it will work out the way you want, or it won't. explain your situation, put your positive spin on it, like you have here. but you also said that they don't do part time, so be prepared to be denied. just be honest. it's business, not personal, for them. they have to do what's best for the company. good luck...!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

What do you intend to be the results of the internship?
Interns aren't paid.
Legally speaking, there is no promise of employment after completing the internship.

If the internship isn't directly related to training that is somehow required by your current employer, it seems that you very possibly, in simplest terms, could be choosing your internship over your job in which case, you will have to consider which means more to you in the long run.

There are plenty of positions where having a part time person, or two part time persons, simply will not effectively cover the requirements of the position. If that's the case, your employer would be well within their rights not to retain you so that you can have time to pursue outside interests.

I think you should just be up front with your employer. The sooner, the better, from an integrity standpoint if nothing else.

Just my opinion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

If you are hoping your work lets you go so you can collect unemployment good news! You won't get it anyway because they would be firing you for cause. So just quit when you want to.

If not just tell them what you need

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well, I don't know the employment laws in your state, but here, "firing" or termination for cause only happens when someone does something illegal or close to it (theft, violence, etc.). Even people terminated for performance can be eligible for unemployment, depending on the circumstances. Anyway, that wasn't your question.

I probably would wait until 4-6 weeks before I needed to start the internship to tell my current employer. That's still enough time for them to find a replacement for you or rearrange work, or otherwise come up with a way to allow you to work 1/2 time. Telling them four months in advance doesn't make sense to me, there's nothing they are going to do about it this far out. I've also had situations like this work themselves out if given time (you find another PT job that works with your internship, you find out that your position is changing or going away, or who knows what else..)

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answers from St. Louis on

how long is this internship? If you're talking short-termed, perhaps you may be able to hang onto your job. But if that internship is leading to a completely different field/position, then your employer has no need to keep you.

My thought would be to sit down with your supervisor & HR at the beginning of June. That would allow the company time to explore their options. If you lay it out....one month for the company to make a decision on your request - - one month to hire a pt.time employee - - & one month to train the new employee.

Another thought would be: could you hire into the company where you will be interning? Hire into a position other than your field? That would give you a foot in the door when it's time to look for employment. :)

Good Luck....



answers from Boston on

I think you really need to figure out what you want to accomplish by your request. Are you hoping that you can work part time for the duration of your internship and then return to full time? Or are you hoping to permanently alter your job to part time? Once you know what you want, then write a proposal. Indicate that you would like to alter your hours to <insert days/times> and show how you will accomplish your work in that time. I think most employers are more likely to consider a well thought out proposal. Keep in mind, it isn't always for employers to reduce hours. Companies are always monitoring hours worked for benefit reasons, and some larger companies consider overall headcount (e.g. a team can't have 2 people working 20 hours each but can have 1 person working 40 hours). Your direct manager/supervisor also needs to figure out a way to cover the work while you are gone. I'm not sure what type of work you do, but is it realistic for you to work fewer hours or less traditional hours (e.g. can you work in the evening to make up some hours since you can't do the internship then)? Your employer might say you can't reduce to 20 hours, but can work 30 hours for x number of weeks then return to your regular schedule. If you have any vacation time saved up, they might try to use those hours as part of the new schedule.

Good luck with whatever you decide!



answers from Tampa on

You don't say what you job is....does it even lend well to being part-time? It sounds like you are set on taking the internship, and I understand that. Come up with a proposal and see if your current job is willing to accomodate that. If not, then I guess that you have to move on...



answers from Denver on

My advice would be to go in as prepared as possible. Explain why you need to go part time. But then have a plan for how your job would function at part time and why this can work for the company. Look at it from their perspective. They need to know that productivity or job performance will not suffer. If you can show them that you have thought about this and come up with ways to ensure that your job will not suffer, then you probably have them best possibility for going to part time. Good luck.



answers from New York on

I would likely give four weeks notice of this. However, I think it would be important to know, are there other employees who have switched from a fulltime to a part time schedule in the past? If your company has a record of being supportive of this arrangement, you can likely tell sooner and not be as fearful of your job, but if you think they may opt to let you go and replace you, don't leave yourself without employment for a long period of time that you cannot afford. Good luck



answers from Santa Barbara on

Does the internship have anything to do with your current job? Will this be of benefit to them in the end? If you are just going to do an internship and then leave, what is the benefit for the company? That is how you are going to have to present it.

Can you do the 20/hour week internship and still work full time? I don't know your industry but 60 hours/week is a slow for me.

If your current company doesn't have a part time position, you are simply not capable to do the job you were hired for so I don't see how unemployment would be an option. You chose the internship...why would you want to be let go except for unemployment (not cool in my opinion).

Talk to them six weeks or so before you start the internship and have a written plan on how to make this work. Be prepared for a "no" and looking for a part time job or another full time job with different hours.


answers from Redding on

Let them know what's up and provide them with your solutions... and then keep your fingers crossed.

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