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I got a question regarding whether I should apply for internship back to my previous employer.

Months ago, I quit my previous work in order to go back to university. Recently, I am considering to work again in the industry in the summer in some internship program for some need, and am working towards that.

Back at my previous work, I was doing very well and got fairly high reputation in the company. I also had good relations with the team members and the manager. I think I did a good job there and my team members realized I could deliver fast and precise soon after I joined the company. If I have to, I would conclude myself as a high quality/price ratio person that was valuable in many sense. Sure I am not saying they can't live without me, but you got my meaning. Before I leave, a 3-level-above manager asked me to go back after graduation and deliberately asked about next summer(but I hadn't got this plan yet).

However, now I am not sure whether I should apply back to them so I am here for some suggestions.

  1. Unless something goes wrong seriously, I think it will be easy to get an offer from them, as it's promised by a high level executive already. So that means an almost-guaranteed internship.
  2. I had a good relationship with my previous manager and I connected him on LinkedIn, so he will know I will be doing internship. The chances are, if I decide to apply to them, I might just directly ping him and the process might get much easier.
  3. However, that company is not my top priority. What that means is, if I am a bit luckier and manage to get any position from other companies that I've applied or will be applying, then I will not go back there. In that sense, I feel I am using them as a safety net.

I am mostly concerned about how my previous teammates and manager will perceive this. If I do not apply, they might think I don't like to work there or some other sort of bad feelings; on the other hand, if I have to decline their offer, there might be other feelings as well.

So I am not sure what to do now. It might be helpful to get some suggestions from you guys.

Also, worth noting that I have to get an internship somewhere next summer.

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    Could you please add a location tag?, it could help focus the answers you get. – DarkCygnus Nov 18 '17 at 0:04
  • If you want to apply, apply. If you don't want to apply, don't apply. We can't tell you whether or not you should apply. – Dukeling Nov 18 '17 at 13:11
  • @DarkCygnus I am trying to unveil less personal information. i am in north america. – Confused Nov 18 '17 at 16:43
  • @Dukeling definitely. as I said i am asking for suggestions. i know it's very subjective after all. but your opinions count and will help me make final decision. – Confused Nov 18 '17 at 16:44
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I know someone who did that in Germany, and it was easy for him because he already knew all the processes. He ended up having to do things he did previously though. In software development, you will often be stuck forever with your first projects, and when he came back, that applied to.

Of course you'd be payed significantly less as an intern than as a regular employee, so you might feel undervalued when they stick you with your old responsibilities. That is a real possibility.

The obvious upside to going back is that it takes little effort, there will be little friction to get used to the place, you know the commute and so on.

But there are downsides too. If you go to a different company, you will see different things and get new experiences. Having seen a variety of things, company cultures, projects and people will improve your market value. Future employers might also see going back as the easy way out, and assume you don't like change or to take risks.

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I am mostly concerned about how my previous teammates and manager will perceive this. If I do not apply, they might think I don't like to work there or some other sort of bad feelings; on the other hand, if I have to decline their offer, there might be other feelings as well.

Although they would welcome you back with open arms, don't think that in your absence, everything will grind to a halt.

At the end of the day, it sounds like you are 100% confident that you will get a offer within a realistic timeline (i.e. 1 month) if you asked. My recommendation to incorporate this into your strategy is to:

  • Apply to other positions as you mentioned.
  • Set a date with yourself that if you do not secure a position at a more ideal company, you reach out to the manager of this company and get the gears going for a full time position.

The idea here is to minimize downtime (and therefore income) in the grand scheme of things. Although you can argue that you would prefer to hold-out and wait for a better opportunity, know that a better opportunity is just that, an opportunity, not a guarantee.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

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I am mostly concerned about how my previous teammates and manager will perceive this. If I do not apply, they might think I don't like to work there or some other sort of bad feelings; on the other hand, if I have to decline their offer, there might be other feelings as well.

Short answer: You apply for the internships you want, and chose the one you like most that makes you an offer. It is your career, your time invested, and your choice if you want to work somewhere or not. No hard feelings involved.

Longer answer: Although probably a cliché phrase: "Nothing personal, just business.", this is something worth having in mind all the time.

Yes, you seem to have had some sort of bond or synergy in your previous job and that is great (not everyone has the joy to find such jobs). But that doesn't force you to come back to them, as it does not guarantee that they will be offended if you decided that (if they where, then that would be unprofessional and possibly even immature).

The fact that you had a great previous job experience doesn't mean that you should discard any other possibilities and opportunities you get just to retake that job. It's the way businesses usually work, and is also two-way thing; just because they had a positive experience with you doesn't mean they will discard a better candidate if given the choice.

Finally, I must say it's noble for you to worry about this, but try to put yourself first on this one (it's your life and career after all). If what makes you uneasy is the possibility that they start drawing conclusions on your reasons for not going back to them, you should clear those doubts when and if you turn their offer down. If it came to this, you could try something like:

I am really grateful for your offer, and I consider you the best place I have worked so far for several reasons, but I am afraid I must turn down your offer.

Please don't take me wrong; this is nothing personal. As you know, I went back to University to complete my career formation, and is something I really want to do as well as expanding my skills in the process. Thus, the reasons why I am unable to join you this time.

I really hope I can manage to complete my education as soon as possible, and to become a better professional in the process. I am also looking forward to work with you again in the future, moment where I would surely bring more knowledge and experience to the table that will benefit us all.

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