By: Marissa Bell
Summer internships. The bane of your existence until you get one. Once you have an internship, you’re golden. When people ask you what you’re doing for the summer, you’ve got a perfect, and insanely impressive, answer to give them. However, in the search for an internship in this job market, presumably, you’re casting your net as wide as it can go: applying to internship after internship, and having multiple interviews. And, as University of Miami students, you’ll probably get multiple offers. But just like The Hunger Games, there can only be one winner. So what do you do about the other ones? It’s like having to break up with a significant other. Rejecting an offer for an internship (or even a regular job) is stressful and uncomfortable, but something that needs to be done. Are you in the position where you have more offers than time? Read on to find some basic tips on how to appropriately reject an offer for an internship.
Tip 1: Don’t Leave Them Hanging
The second you know that you aren’t going to accept an offer from a company, you need to let them know. It’s not fair for you to keep them waiting thinking that they’ve got an intern and then two weeks before you start, tell them you’re going with something else. They need time to send offers to other people, to interview others, and it’s in bad form for you to leave them in a lurch. Even if you don’t plan on working with them, you still owe that employer the benefit of professional courtesy. The simple fact of the matter is this: they can always get a new intern, you are only hurting yourself by not calling them and appearing unprofessional.
Tip 2: Call ‘Em Up
Maybe I’m the only one, but the thought of having someone on the phone and telling them that you can’t accept their offer fills me with ill-disguised anxiety. All I can think about is what their reaction is going to be, are they going to yell? Cry? Okay probably not cry, but still, rejecting an offer over the phone can be awkward. But the fact of the matter is, you need to call them, its the polite thing to do. Imagine how you would feel if they didn’t call you to offer you the job or tell you they weren’t going to hire you, it wouldn’t be fair to you, just as it wouldn’t be fair to them to not call and let them know you’re going with someone else. It’s the same thing with breaking up with a significant other. You can’t just text them and be like, “Sorry, it’s not you, its me, lets break up.” E-mail them a follow up if they need it in writing, but still, call them first to let them know. They took the time to read your resume and interview you, so you can take the time to give them a call. So suck it up and give them a call, rip off the band-aid. It’ll be over before you know it.
Tip 3: Be courteous
This seems obvious to mostly everyone, but you’d be surprised by the things people do when they think they’ll never have to talk to someone again. The one thing that’s certain is that the future is not written in stone. You have no idea where your life is going to take you and even if you don’t want one internship one summer, it might be the perfect internship for you next summer, or even for a full-time position. If you sacrifice your professionalism, you can burn bridges for the future. Just because it isn’t right in that moment doesn’t mean you won’t see that employer again, so make sure you treat them with the same sense of respect and professionalism that you did during the interview process.
The moral of the story is simple: Do it quickly, do it over the phone, and do it nicely. If you follow these simple tips, what has the potential to turn into a horribly awkward situation can go easily and painlessly. By following these tips, you not only get out of an internship, but still manage to maintain the networking connection that has the opportunity to benefit you in the future.