Leave off-cycle internship early to do a master

Hello everyone,

I'm in a bit of a dilemma and could really use some advice. I'm graduating this year from a semi-target UK university and have a couple of opportunities lined up that I'm trying to navigate.

First, I have an offer to start a Master in Finance at a top french school with excellent placement records for EBs/BBS, beginning in the last week of August. Second, I've received an offer for an off-cycle internship at a regional investment bank in London, which will finish at the end of the year.

My options seem to be either to defer the master's program for a year to complete the internship and possibly find something else for the following year, or to leave the internship after three months to start the master's program, which is ultimately my end goal.

I'm leaning towards prioritising the master's as it aligns closely with my career objectives. However, I'm concerned that leaving the internship early might burn bridges, which could affect my career in the long run. On the other hand, I'm hesitant to delay the master's program and find myself applying for internships at 23/24 when I can do it this year, but at what cost? I am also going to be much more motivated to do it this year than next year after a year of working.

Do you think it's a bad idea to leave an internship early? How could it impact my future career prospects? Any advice or insights would be greatly appreciated as I try to make this decision.


Based on the insights from Wall Street Oasis, leaving an internship early can be a complex decision with potential long-term implications. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Career Alignment and Long-Term Goals: Prioritizing education, especially a Master in Finance from a top school, can significantly enhance your career prospects in investment banking. The strong placement record of the school you mentioned suggests that this could be a strategic move to align with your ultimate career objectives in elite boutiques and bulge bracket banks.

  2. Impact of Leaving an Internship Early: While leaving an internship early can potentially burn bridges, it largely depends on how you handle the situation. Communicating transparently with your employer about your decision, explaining your long-term career goals, and expressing gratitude for the opportunity can mitigate negative impacts. Offering to help during the transition period or suggesting potential replacements could also demonstrate professionalism.

  3. Timing and Age Considerations: Entering a master's program earlier can be advantageous, as you mentioned the motivation and age factors. Being younger in a highly competitive field like finance can provide you with more flexibility and resilience in adapting to rigorous job demands and networking effectively.

  4. Weighing Immediate vs. Future Opportunities: While the internship offers valuable immediate experience, the master's program seems to offer a more direct path to your desired career in high finance. The strategic benefits of the master's program, including networking opportunities, specialized knowledge, and access to recruiters, might outweigh the short-term benefits of the internship.

  5. Advice from the WSO Community: As seen in various discussions on Wall Street Oasis, many community members advocate for making decisions that align closely with one's long-term career aspirations. If the master's program significantly enhances your chances of breaking into your desired roles, it might justify the decision to leave the internship early.

In conclusion, while there are risks to leaving an internship early, your situation seems to justify considering this option, especially if handled professionally. Prioritizing your master's program could strategically position you for the roles you ultimately aspire to secure in the finance industry.

Sources: Have you ever seen an intern quit early?, QUITTING MY INTERNSHIP - How Damaging Is It?, Morgan Stanley's advice to summer analysts, Full-Time Dilemma - 2 Offers, Should I delay graduation for 1 semester or graduate? (Potentially salvageable situation)

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

Good business school or not, if you have 0 relevant experience your odds of recruiting at an EB/BB will be much harder. There’s a reason why the meme exists that European grads have 3+ internships prior to starting their FT stint. You need to be aware that you’ll be competing with them for off-cycle/internship positions. Think this could be the most crucial factor depending on what your end goals are.


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