What should I do if I get an offer and am not ready to accept because I want to continue interviewing and evaluating other opportunities?
It is perfectly reasonable to want to continue to interview and learn about other opportunities. Most employers will not expect an immediate answer to an offer, but you also cannot string them along indefinitely. Most employers will have other candidates in the pipeline who they do not want to lose if you choose not to accept. You can let the offering employer know that you are very appreciative of the offer, and ask by what date they will need an answer from you. This may vary quite a bit; at one end of the spectrum, some employers seem to want an answer yesterday; others may not even impose a deadline. Most common is a few days to a couple of weeks. Occasionally, an employer will ask you to propose a time frame, which can be tricky. You may not be sure what to propose in light of the other opportunities you are pursuing. A reasonable amount of time to suggest is two weeks.
I received an offer from an employer, but it is not my first choice, and I am still waiting to hear from other employers I would prefer. Can I let my preferred employer(s) know what’s going on, and if so, how?
Yes, you can certainly reach out to a preferred employer to let them know you have received another offer. In your contact with the preferred employer, emphasize your continued interest in an internship with their organization, and let them know that you have received another offer with a deadline of [date]. Diplomatically ask if the employer can give you a sense of their hiring timeline, and, if you have not already been interviewed, offer to meet with them at their convenience. Sometimes such a “gentle nudge” works to move the process forward. But you should only use this tactic on one employer, or at least on only one at a time. You don’t want to nudge multiple employers to move in your favor at the same time; you may then find yourself obligated to turn down more than one offer and risk offending those employers. Begin the nudge with your top choice employer, and only move on to the next one if your first choice confirms that they are unable to make you an offer or interview you at this time. If you have questions about using this tactic, or run into timing challenges, an OPIA adviser can definitely assist you.
What should I do if an employer gives me a firm deadline (to reply to an offer) that will arrive before I know about other potential offers?
In most cases, you can ask for an extension of the deadline. Thank the employer for the offer, let them know you are still sorting things out in terms of your summer, and ask if it would be okay to have a little extra time to decide. It’s best to ask for the least time necessary to get closure with one or two other employers, and not to ask for large swaths of time just to generically “see what happens”. If you need more personalized advice, this is a good reason to speak with an OPIA adviser. This is the sort of question that can often be easily managed during walk-in office hours.
What should I do if an employer gives me an “exploding offer” with a very short deadline?
This can be one of the more stressful situations that students encounter while applying for summer internships. On the one hand, if it is a position you really want, then go for it – accept! On the other hand, if you are uncertain or still evaluating other options, come see an OPIA adviser as quickly as you can. Walk-in hours, which are held daily, are a great option for working with an adviser to help you think through how to handle an exploding offer.
How can I ask for an extended deadline? How much extra time can I reasonably request if I ask for an extended deadline?
The answer to this question will depend on both the employer and the general circumstances. For example, if the deadline you were given was already quite reasonable, you will want to articulate a good reason to ask for the extension. Sometimes the job posting itself will indicate the employer’s timeline; if so, you’ll want to be sure to be respectfully considerate and acknowledge that you are aware of their constraints. Bear in mind, too, that continued requests for extensions may signal to the employer that they are not one of your top choices. You should ask for the least amount of time you actually need to make your decision; in general, think of extensions in either 1 or 2-week increments, depending on what your timeline is looking like for hearing back from other employers. And finally, be aware that while some employers will find a request for an extension perfectly reasonable, others will be less enthused, and you may end up having to say yes or no by the original deadline. Please see an OPIA adviser to strategize – this is a good question for walk-in office hours!
If I accept an offer while other applications are pending, what should I do? Do I let someone at the other employers know I am already committed?
Congratulations, you’ve accepted an offer! With respect to other applications that are pending, they fall into two categories. If you have recently interviewed with any of those other employers, definitely contact them ASAP and let them know you have accepted another position. If you have applications pending for which you were never interviewed or never contacted, it’s also considerate to withdraw those applications and politely let them know you have accepted another position.
I would like to accept an offer and will work the full summer at this employer if necessary, but my preference would be to split the summer with a second employer. How and when should I broach this with the offering employer?
If you are a 1L, we don’t generally suggest splitting your summer, as your time is relatively short and your learning curve is steeper. If you are a 2L, with a longer summer, a split may be more feasible. Our suggestion is to raise this question in the context of accepting the offer. Accept, let them know how much you are looking forward to working with them, and ask whether they are open to a split summer. Explain – briefly – the reason you are interested in splitting (perhaps you want to live in a different city? Or perhaps you have two strong areas of interest and want to spend ½ your summer working on each?) and offer a commitment to be with the employer you have already committed to for a meaningful number of work weeks (6-8). Make sure they understand that, if they are not comfortable with a split, you will of course be happy to spend the entire summer with them.