Evaluating an Internship Offer
posted by Kaitlyn Riley
Receiving an internship offer is often a culmination of a lot of time, effort, preparation and hard work. It’s also just an all-around awesome feeling! For these reasons, it is easy to get swept up in the elation of the moment and just say “yes!” However, now that an offer is on the table, it is important to take a step back and really think about what you are being offered and what the opportunity really means for you and your career.
That being said, before rejecting or accepting, it is perfectly fine to ask for some time to “think about it” before giving an answer. In fact, you should be doing this so you can reflect on all the stuff I’m going to talk about below!
Perhaps you have a few more interviews coming up and you want to see how they play out. Maybe you’re waiting to hear back from your dream employer. Maybe you just need to think about it. Regardless, most companies will give you anywhere from 24 hours to a week to make a decision. You will want to ask when they need to know by so that you can respect their timeline.
Points to Consider:
Consider the relevance to your career path.
Ideally, the internship should be relevant to your career path. When considering an offer (or offers), ask yourself: “How does this internship help me move closer to my ultimate goal?” If it is for senior co-op, it is especially important to find out if the company is known for hiring their interns full-time after the internship is over.
If you are not sure what you want your career path to look like yet, the internship should be in an area of interest that you would like to know more about. For example, maybe you took a Public Relations class at LIM and loved it on the academic side, but now would like to know more about how it functions in the real world. An internship is a great chance to get that first-hand experience and explore a new area of interest!
Talk to your peers.
Before accepting an offer (and even before you start interviewing), it is a good idea to talk with your peers who have worked with the company before. You might have read the job description, you might have interviewed (maybe more than once) and you did online research, but there is nothing like getting a first-hand account from someone you trust.
A peer can give you a realistic glimpse of what it is like to work as an intern at a company and may be able to touch on some things that were not covered in the interview or job description. Here are some things you might want to ask:
- Are the hours fair? Are you expected to stay late?
- What are the networking opportunities like?
- What is the workload like? Did they learn a lot? Where they given a fair amount of responsibility and opportunity to grow?
- Overall company/office culture? Positives and negatives? Challenges, if any?
Consider location and hours.
Where is the internship located? How many hours a week are you expected to work? Is it a reasonable commute from home and/or school? How much does it cost to commute? How does the commute and hours fit in with your school schedule (if taking classes)?
These are all important questions to ask yourself before accepting an offer. Maybe an hour (or more) commute is feasible if you are not taking classes, but consider how that would affect your school work and overall work-life balance.
Rejecting an Offer
Rejecting an offer probably isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do, but it is a scenario that most people will probably encounter at one point or another. The first thing to remember in this circumstance is that the fashion industry is a small world and you never know how or when paths will cross again down the line, so you always want to act with the highest level of professionalism no matter what.
This means expressing gratitude for their time and for the opportunity and providing a response within the agreed upon timeline. Depending on the scenario, you will want to use your best judgment in deciding how you are going to tell them. Depending on the person or the company, you may feel a phone call is more appropriate, but there are times when an email makes more sense. Again, use your best judgment and go with your gut.
Rescinding an Offer
I’ll start off by saying that rescinding an offer after you have already accepted is generally a “no-no” and should be avoided. It is also important to note that after accepting an offer, you should STOP applying and STOP interviewing.
By accepting, you have made a commitment to that employer and should not continue to seek out other opportunities. If you accept an offer, and another offer comes your way that you decide you want more, it is usually in your best interest to keep your commitment to the accepted internship.
Not only is rescinding disrespectful to the employer, but it does not bode well for your reputation. Remember that thing I said about fashion being a small world? That is true in this instance too and rescinding can come back to haunt you! If you find yourself in a situation where you must rescind, you should always reach out to the EECM Department first, so we can help you assess your options and navigate the process.
By Kaitlyn Riley, Career Advisor