I have been offered a job.
There is nothing more humbling than being asked back to an agency which you enjoyed working for and whose work you admire. But it made me think; what would have happened if I had stayed? Have I made my life more difficult by leaving?
When interning at this agency, the only thing that stopped me staying was money. It is always money. I enjoyed working there and felt I was needed in the operation of everything. I love their work and was proud to say I was interning there. The people were lovely and they have a great studio culture, but they paid so little I had to escape every 2 weeks to sign on, which I was always embarrassed to mention, but it had to be done. When I was offered freelance work, I took it, and took the plunge into looking for work over the summer, which has been a mixed experience.
Money will always be the motivation for me to leave a placement - even if it's going well. Perhaps sometimes you need to leave to be appreciated. A close friend of mine was offered a job shortly after attending an interview for freelance work, whilst still working for an agency that clearly take advantage of her. I think they knew that once being offered freelance money, they'd never get her back and would no longer be able to pay her the little amount she was on.
Similarly, when other people, of high design status, start offering you work, it gives you the confidence to demand more and expect better. You aren't an intern anymore. You could fill a junior designer's shoes, and should be paid accordingly.
It goes to show that in the end, if you impressed them with your attitude and your work, you will still be remembered, despite not being a pushover and working for next to nothing.
Every book I read about getting into the design industry explains that working for pennies gains you respect and people appreciate you and remember you for it - but I think being strong, independent and valuing yourself are more important and memorable traits.