Navigating Job/Internship Offers: Weighing Your Options

Navigating the world of internships and full-time job offers can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially for students who may be doing this for the first time. While it’s exhilarating to receive that coveted job offer, especially if you’ve been on the hunt for what feels like an eternity, it’s crucial to approach the decision-making process with a strategic mindset. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through key considerations when evaluating offers and how to manage multiple opportunities simultaneously.

1. The Art of Not Accepting on the Spot: When you receive a job offer, it’s natural to feel a rush of excitement. Sometimes recruiters or hiring managers will make an offer and then pressure you to accept verbally on the spot, which, for a student new to the world of work, can feel like no big deal. It’s not binding, right? Well…technically, no. Not legally, anyway. But a verbal “yes” is still a “yes” to a hiring manager and changing your mind at any point after would still be considered reneging and could lead to muddying your reputation with that employer. To avoid any potential discomfort with an employer, resist the urge to accept right way. Instead, politely express your gratitude and request some time to review the offer. This pause allows you to carefully consider all aspects before making a commitment, and also lets the employer know you take your commitments seriously. You can feel free to discuss your offer details with a career advisor because we’ll likely be able to guide you through next steps.

2. The Negotiation Game: Negotiating salaries or bonuses can feel intimidating, but don’t shy away from it right away, especially if the offer doesn’t quite meet your expectations. Research industry standards and assess your market value. This video helps you find resources that can help you educate yourself on industry norms. If you feel there is room for negotiation, politely discuss your findings with the employer, emphasizing how your skills and experiences justify a more competitive package. Remember, negotiating is a common and often expected part of the hiring process, and if you do your research, maintain a positive approach and reiterate your excitement to join the organization, you may end up with a higher salary, signing or relocation bonus than if you didn’t try to negotiate at all.

3. The Power of Evaluation: When you have a full-time offer in hand and you’ve taken the time to pause, take a comprehensive look beyond just the base salary. Consider the benefits package, including healthcare, retirement plans, perks like paid gym memberships, cell phone plan discounts, and any other “nice to have” benefits. This benefits guide, published by Idealist, gives a great breakdown of the types of benefits you may be examining when considering a full-time opportunity.

While internships typically do not include healthcare or retirement benefits, investigate “hidden” benefits such as professional development opportunities, mentorship programs and company culture. These are important considerations for full-time opportunities, too. Make a list of priorities and ensure the offer aligns with your career goals and values.

4. The PTO Factor: Paid time off (PTO) is often overlooked by students, especially since it’s likely your first time accepting a full-time job and time off has always been worked into your school schedule. But in the world of work it plays a crucial role in maintaining work-life balance and career happiness. Understand the company’s policies regarding vacation days, paid holidays, sick time, and other leave options. A generous PTO policy can significantly contribute to your overall job satisfaction. Some companies even will offer unlimited leave. While this can seem like the best option, it’s important to ask before accepting an offer how much PTO the average employee at that organization will take, or at least what would be considered reasonable by your potential hiring manager. Unlimited PTO does not mean taking a two-month sabbatical to India just because you feel like it, most likely, and some research has proven that people who have unlimited PTO take less of it than people who have an official cap. This article discusses how unlimited PTO may be a hyped up benefit since Americans are taking less time off post-pandemic, anyway. Also, keep in mind that if your company has an unlimited PTO policy, when you leave the role you will not be paid out any remaining balances of PTO like you could at other organizations. That said, the company culture may be “work hard/play hard” and perhaps that extended trip to India would be a real possibility, after all! This is why it’s important to ask about expectations before accepting an offer.

5. Juggling Multiple Offers: Not all employers work on the same timelines, especially when it comes to different industries, so it’s not uncommon to find yourself juggling multiple offers or opportunities simultaneously. If you’re still in the interview process with other companies when an offer comes in, it’s perfectly fine to update those companies that you’ve received an offer, particularly if you would consider those offers above the one you currently have. If you receive an offer you are unsure about, ask for an extension to give an answer – you don’t necessarily have to say you are waiting to hear from or interview with another organization (in fact, I’d advise against that in most situations), but you can certainly ask for more time to consider the offer and perhaps discuss it with your family (especially if it requires relocation or some other huge change). You can work with a career advisor to get the language right when asking for more time from one company while requesting to expedite the interview process at another organization.

6. Prioritizing and Decision-Making: Evaluate each offer based on your priorities, considering factors such as the overall package, company culture, growth opportunities, and work-life balance. Create a pros and cons list for each option to help visualize the strengths and weaknesses. Seek advice from mentors, career advisors, or trusted peers to gain valuable perspectives.

Lastly, if you have an offer that you feel lukewarm over, think hard about your future plans and if that opportunity fits into those goals. While scary, it’s okay to turn down an offer that just doesn’t feel right, even if you don’t have a back up in mind. This situation would be a great reason to meet with a career advisor so we can discuss your search process and see if there is room for improvement to find that job or internship that feels just right.

That said, keep in mind no job is (usually) forever these days, and one decision likely won’t “pigeonhole” you into a career you regret, which is a fear I often hear from students. Professional experience, whatever it is, is usually a building block for your future. By taking the time to evaluate, negotiate, and prioritize, you’ll position yourself for a successful and fulfilling career.

Best of luck in your decision-making journey!

By Anne Dickinson
Anne Dickinson Senior Associate Director, The College