Deciding on a Job or Internship Offer with Uncertainty

By: David Ross

You’ve spent much time an effort on your job or internship search. Your efforts attending various recruiting events, applying for numerous positions and enduring countless interviews have left you in an interesting predicament – you’re fortunate enough to have secured multiple job or internship offers. Or perhaps you’ve received one offer and are awaiting final decisions from other employers. What should you do and how should you handle the situation?

For starters, take a deep breath and try to relax. Consider that you’ve already made great progress in your search and may be very close to finalizing your job or internship plans. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to accept a job or internship offer:

Be aware of your timeline to decide on the offer. While this may seem obvious, the more important point is to consider how much time you have to obtain the information you need to make an informed decision. It can be very tempting to wait until a day or two before your deadline to make a decision and, all of a sudden, realize you’re missing some crucial information that may be helpful for you.

Review your priorities and interests. Now that you know the employer wants to hire you, take a moment to revisit your priorities, interests and goals for the position. When applying for many positions it can be very easy to submit your application without scrutinizing any particular job or internship closely. So take some time to really evaluate your offer. While it may difficult to find a job or internship that meets all of your established criteria, having an understanding of how well this opportunity “fits” with your expectations may relieve some of the angst you encounter making a final decision.

If you are interviewing or awaiting final word from other employers, reach out to them with an update. You may want to reach out to companies you have interviewed with to provide an update on your status and find out more about their decision-making timeline. Perhaps they may consider making a final decision on your status before your offer deadline but always be very professional when explaining your situation and avoid making demands.

Accept that uncertainty may be part of the decision-making process. In an ideal world, everyone would know all of their final options before making the best informed decision. However, with some employers recruiting for positions with different hiring timeframes, you may not have the luxury of knowing all of your options at the same time. This happens quite frequently, so the more comfortable you feel making a decision under these circumstances, the better prepared you will be for similar situations that may arise later on in your career.

When you find yourself deciding on a job or internship offer, be confident and trust your judgment. While you may feel your decision will dictate the rest of your future career opportunities, realize there are many paths one can take to reach desired career goals. You can always seek opinions and solicit advice from those you trust, but be sure to make the final decision on your own – after all, this is your life and your future.

Author: David

David Ross is a Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Wharton undergraduates and occasional blogger for "Penn & Beyond."