A reader writes:
I am beginning to feel very frustrated with the nonprofit organization that I have been interning for the past six months.
My internship is supposed to end this Friday and the organization does not allow for internships to last more than six months. This January, I was told about a new part-time position opening up in the department I’ve been working in and was highly encouraged by the acting director to apply. The idea of hiring someone was thrown around a couple times in December, so I was really excited for the prospect of turning the internship into a job! The acting director gave me the job posting before it was made available to the public, which was extremely kind of her to give me the heads up. I was told that the organization has rules on promoting from inside and that the department needs to follow protocol to interview others outside of the organization.
The posting was finally made available sometime middle-to-end of February. I had followed up with the acting director a couple days after the submission of my application to see if she had gotten my resume and cover letter through email, because I figured I didn’t want to pester her in person. She came to me in person and reassured that I would get an interview soon. Finally, I received an email of my interview schedule the second week of March. I had the interview last Wednesday and everything went smoothly and was told that I will hear back latest by on Tuesday of this week.
I work there from Wednesday to Friday. Yesterday (Wednesday), I went into the office with the intention of asking about the hiring decision. As usual, everyone in the department was swamped with work (and so was I), so I didn’t have the chance to ask. The department is obviously understaffed, and they really need my help. I am continuously given the most tedious and silliest grunt work without pay. I didn’t mind it so much until recently because of the long time it took for them to interview me.
I don’t understand why they can’t make the hiring decision sooner. What frustrates me even more is that they had hired an paid intern for a more specific program in the department two weeks ago (I’m more of the general department intern). Now that there’s a paid intern, I feel like I am being undervalued for the amount of work I do and effort I put in. And often times, my supervisor gives me very short notice to complete projects because she was given a very short time by the people who she’s working with.
I don’t know if their intentions are. Do they think it’s okay to wait until the end of my internship, which is this week, to hire me? The job description stated that the position is temporary, lasting from February to June. February is over, and March is soon to be, too. I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I’ve put in in the last six months and I am still unpaid! I understand everyone’s very busy with their work, but does it take that long to make this hiring decision? How should I handle this situation?
The problem here is that you’re assuming that they should make a hiring decision along your timeline, rather than on theirs, and that’s not how hiring works.
There are all sorts of things that can make hiring take a long time: assuring that the funding for the position will be available, resolving questions about whether the funding should go to this position or somewhere else, dealing with higher priorities that come up, interviewing candidates and checking references, waiting for decision-makers to be in town, and much more. (And wouldn’t you rather have them wait until they’re confident the position is fully funded than to hire you and lay you off in two months?)
The timeline for filling the position is going to be determined by what makes sense on their side, and how it fits in with other work they need to juggle. It’s not going to be determined by when you’d like it to be done. It might take far longer than what you were originally told; that’s normal. It might stall; that’s normal. It might get pushed aside because other things are more important to them right now; that’s also normal.
Moreover, it sounds like you’re thinking that the job is yours if only they’d hurry up and offer it to you, but there’s no guarantee that they’re going to hire you at the end of this. You were one of a group of candidates who was interviewed. It’s possible that the job will go to someone else.
You are sounding as if you feel oddly entitled to something that you’re not really entitled to. That has the potential to make you unhappy in a couple of different ways: If you really believe that you’re entitled to this stuff, you will be frustrated and unhappy when others don’t give it to you. And if it shows in your attitude at work, it will impact your reputation (and maybe their interest in hiring you).
I understand that you’re feeling resentful because you’ve been working all this time unpaid, but …. you agreed to that when you took the internship. They’re under no obligation to hire you, they haven’t made any promises to hire you, and you knew you were signing up for an unpaid role when you took the job. It’s not reasonable to be resentful that they haven’t converted you to a paid position. It’s not reasonable to be resentful when people don’t give you something they never promised you.
As for what you can do, go talk to the person in charge of hiring. Say that with your internship ending tomorrow, you’d love to get a sense of their timeline for making a decision, and whether you’re a finalist for the job or not. But that’s all you can do — you can’t push them to move any faster, and you can’t even reasonably expect them to move any faster.
Hopefully, you haven’t been counting on this position coming through and you’ve been conducting an active job search over the past few months. If you haven’t been, start that immediately and move on mentally from the idea of this position. If you end up getting it, it will be a pleasant surprise. If you don’t, you’ll be focused on a job search elsewhere anyway.