Internships are an amazing way to get some relevant experience on your resume while in school, even if you don’t see yourself at that particular company post-graduation. That said, they’re increasingly being used as a funnel for full-time recruiting, so it’s understandable to want to be pickier about which internship you decide to go with.
So, what should you do if you get a pretty good internship offer, but you’re still hoping for a call from your dream company?
Here’s how to juggle one offer deadline while waiting for another decision—plus a sample letter for how to communicate your needs to the company recruiter.
1. Clarify Your Personal Reasons for Needing an Extension
First things first: Remember that you’re asking the company to be thoughtful and accommodating of your goals, so you should do the same. In other words, don’t ask for a deadline extension just for the heck of it, especially if you’re reasonably sure you’re going to take the offer.
If that’s not the case, then it’s time to start figuring out why you need an extension. Do you want to meet more of the team to learn more about your role or the company culture? Are you considering other internships? Is there a particular type of project you want to be on? Knowing why you want an extension will shape your communication with the recruiter.
2. Understand Your University Employer Policies
Most universities have employer policies that protect their students from companies giving exploding offers (offers with less than a 24-hour deadline to respond) or other bad employer behavior. Policies vary by university, but many will have a recommendation for offer deadlines ranging anywhere from one week to several months and can be found on your university’s career services website.
Employers are encouraged to follow such policies to prevent damaging their recruiting relationship with the university. Because such policies do vary by school, it may ultimately fall on you to let the company know what the recommendations are, along with why you personally need more time.
Even if your university does not have employer policies, the realities of being a student and needing to juggle multiple responsibilities will not be lost on the recruiter you’re working with. Regardless of what university you attend, a company should be willing to offer you at least a week to mull over an offer, if not two weeks for offers made during spring semester and even longer for offers made in the fall.
3. Have a Conversation With Your Recruiter
Armed with why you need an extension and your school’s policy on deadlines, it’s time to have a conversation with your recruiter. As with any type of negotiations, having an actual conversation is best, but if scheduling a phone call ultimately takes too much time and the deadline is quickly approaching, an email will suffice.
In conversation or over email, start with your excitement for the offer and what you enjoyed or learned about during the interview process. Then, explain what you’re still thinking about, and request the extension (if necessary, referring to your university guidelines). And most importantly, end graciously.
Dear [contact name],
I am so thrilled to receive an offer for the [position title] position. I am especially intrigued by [cool project at the company] and the chance to contribute to that project. I found our interview discussion about [something you learned at the interview] to be fascinating and look forward to the prospect of having similar conversations in the future.
I understand that the offer deadline is [month, date, year]. I’m currently focusing much of my energy on [reason for extension—for example, tackling midterms] and would greatly appreciate the opportunity to [what you will do with the extra time].
Additionally, according to the policies set by [university career services office] “[quote policy from website].” I believe the offer deadline policy is in place partly to benefit employers by having interns accept a job offer because they think it is the best fit, not because they feel rushed.
Therefore, I am asking you to kindly extend the offer deadline to [desired date or date set by policy]. I look forward to learning more about [company name] in the coming [days/weeks] as I consider this offer!
Thank you very much,
In addition to extending your offer, you should also try to expedite any other internship applications you have remaining. (Letting other companies know that you have another offer and need to respond as soon as possible should do the trick.)
Lastly, as you’re asking for an extension, make sure you do not wait until the day of the deadline to request an extension—do it as early as possible. The key to having this be a successful interaction with your recruiter is to be very conscious of the challenges your request might present to the employer. Keep communication channels open, and do what you can to make this process as easy for them as possible. After all, that’s what you’re asking of them.
Photo of hourglasses courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author