How to transition smoothly out of an internship?

Hi all, I’m posting under a pseudonym to cover my tracks so hope that doesn’t break any forum rules! Also sorry in advance for the long post.

I have been interning at a small firm for the last 4-5 months as a barely paid intern, $500 a month - $460 after tax. There are only three of us in the office full time which consists of my boss, a graphic designer, myself and he just took on a part time unpaid intern. What was sold to me as a great ID learning experience has in fact turned out to be a complete waste of time with my only tasks being an office assistant and the odd graphic design job, the boss is basically running a design firm as a hobby at the expense of everyone he brings on board with the bulk of his staff over the years being unpaid interns. I have been trying to get out for months but my portfolio wasn’t strong enough until I bumped up my skill level in my own time. I deserved my crappy situation but now I don’t.

I was offered a great paid internship at a large design firm, they are known for treating their interns well and even if it doesn’t lead to a full-time gig you leave with a great body of professional work. I am excited and proud of myself to be given this great opportunity.

My boss was not happy after I informed him last Tuesday I was leaving and spent half an hour telling me how bad I was at being his office assistant and then when I asked if he thought I was so bad why didn’t he just let me go, he started to back track and said I should work two weeks notice. He almost burnt his own bridge but the following day apologised for his over reaction. That Thursday he went on vacation for two weeks leaving his only paid member of staff, myself and an unpaid part time intern to run the show in his absence. My new company want me to start tomorrow however my boss seems to be under the impression I will there when he gets back next week.

I don’t want to waste anymore time and money sitting there all day answering emails and twiddling my thumbs when I could be doing some real design work so I am starting in the morning. I’m thankful to him for taking me on when no one else would but I’ve had enough. My boss keeps sending me emails of busy work he wants me to do - nothing related to ID at all. I don’t want to burn any bridges even though he is not well known in the design community.

How can I politely tell him I’m done being his errand boy and to stop emailing me or should I just get the hell out of there and put this bad experience behind me?

Sorry for the ramble and I appreciate any advice you can offer.

Sounds like a horrible situation. Without knowing all of the facts and both sides of the story (I’m sure your current boss has his own version of the events) if it were me, and it is in fact how it reads, I would not miss the opportunity to get into the new job.

I wouldn’t sweat it, maybe you’ve discovered the reason why he’s not well known in the design community.

At the end of the day would you put your career in jeopardy over burning bridges with someone who’s mislead you and treated you like shit? Bounce!

Side note: If you’re an intern and you have a “boss”, it’s not an internship.

I agree with what it’s been said here. I understand you don’t want to burn bridges, but it looks like in this case there’s no other option. You shouldn’t mind burning a bridge you won’t want to cross again.

Thanks for the kind words of support and wisdom Michael, Greenman and IDAL.

I just needed to rip off the bandaid and get out of there. My ‘boss’ wouldn’t have extended the same courtesy if he wanted to get rid of me anyway.

My first two days have been great - my coworkers are extremely friendly and helpful and I have been sketching none stop and making mock-ups. A far cry from before and I am extremely happy I’m here and having this great opportunity to learn and grow.

Thanks guys!

congrats on the new gig!

Glad to hear it’s working out!