Before You Say Yes: How to Accept or Decline an Internship Offer

NY Creative Interns Decisions                                                  Image courtesy of Thinkstock

You polished your resume, crafted your cover letter, prepared for interviews, followed up with thank you notes and now you are playing the waiting game.  Finally, you get the phone call – this is it.  The internship offer you have been waiting for is finally here.  But before you accept the internship, you need to remember a few important points.

Take time to enjoy the moment.
First off, congratulations.  Being offered an internship is a wonderful thing.  You are a competitive candidate and the prospective employer thinks that you would be a good fit for the position and company.  Well done.

An offer has been extended- what do you do? 
An excellent way to respond to an internship offer is to thank the employer and ask if you may have some time to think it over.  Many candidates feel pressured to respond immediately, but you never want to give an answer on the spot.  Perhaps you are waiting on other potential positions or maybe you have another interview for a different internship later that week.  Asking if you can have some time to think it over is completely appropriate as long as you are asking for a reasonable amount of time (typically a few days up to a week or two).  This way, you can wrap up your other interviews and follow up regarding any pending decisions.

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In addition, the only time you have to negotiate is when the offer is on the table.
You may need some time to review the details of the offer.  Was this an unpaid internship opportunity?  You may want to speak with the appropriate person to see if the employer can provide a metro card or lunch stipend to defray some of the expense.  Do you need a week off for your sister’s upcoming wedding?  Now is the time to alert your prospective employer about any substantial commitments, rather than spring something at the last minute.  If you immediately accept an offer, you are saying yes without taking time to negotiate or consider your options.

Take time to reflect. 
You want to make sure that you are making the best decision for you.  Once you have it figured out, get back to the employer in a timely fashion. Whether you are accepting or declining the offer, you want to extend the same courtesy that was given to you.  Make sure that you speak with someone – never leave a voicemail message with your decision.  If you accept the offer, a nice touch would be to follow up with an email confirming your start date and expressing your enthusiasm for your new role.

What do you think?  Any other tips or advice on accepting or declining an internship offer? Let us know in the comments.