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Some time ago I applied for internship to two companies (let name them X and Y) which create project in field I especially interested in. In both of them I passed all recruitment stages so I was just waiting for offer (I hoped).

Company X responded me and give me an opportunity to work with them.

Company Y told that they will call within an week (but I am not sure if their decision will be positive for me).

Currently I am convinced that I want to take opportunity in company X, but I don't want to burn bridges with Y because within year I want to try to get a job in company Y.

How can I (eventually) diplomatically reject an offer from company Y and express willingness to cooperate in the future?


Why I want to (eventually) reject offer from Y: I am currently 1'st year computer science student. Company X offered me a internship for summer for full time and next 3 month (during my second year) job with 1/2 time. Company Y want to full time summer and [3/4 to 1]* full time on my second year. I know how challenging my studies are, so I don't want to get such big part in second year. In third year I will be able to do this (because there is less work from faculty) so I want to delay company Y to the third year.

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Rejecting an offer shouldn't be a big deal. It's not like high school. ;) Professionals maintain good relationships with former employees and rejected candidates all the time. So if you get an offer from Y after you accepted from X, simply let them know what happened and how you feel.

Thank you so much for the offer. As much as I'd like to join your team, unfortunately, I won't be able to accept at this time as I've accepted an offer from another organization. I hope there will be another opportunity to join your team in the future. I'll contact you again when my assign here is done.

Question: If you really want to get a job a Company Y within a year, why don't you want to get started working with them right away?

  • Hi Max, thanks for advice! I just edited my post to explain my decision. – VirtualUser Mar 23 at 17:49
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Company X responded me and give me an opportunity to work with them.

Company Y told that they will call within an week (but I am not sure if their decision will be positive for me).

As I read it, company X extended you an offer, company Y is yet to do. In this situation, I think it is best to wait for company Y to get back (since the expected turn around time is relatively shorter).

In case, the response from company Y is negative, you don't need to make a choice. Go with company X.

In case you get a positive response, given that you expect to work with them in future, I'd suggest to go with the offer from company Y. In that case, however, you need to inform company X about the decision.

There's no need to be worried about the choice-making, in general, just inform them in an official and polite way, saying something like:

"Hello, I thank you for extending the offer however at this point of time, I would not be able to accept the offer. I would like to know about any openings in future which is suitable for me. Thank you."

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I just want to add something to Max Hodges' answer : you can inform company Y of your decision before they come back to you. While job hunting, if you're in the running for one or more jobs elsewhere when you accept an offer at a company, it's always appreciated to notify the other companies that you're no longer in the running and they don't waste anymore time considering you for the job. I think this applies to internships too.

Of course, only tell them when you've already accepted company X's offer and your internship is secure.

  • Yes, that would be considerate too. The only potential downside is that you may come away with less information--since you won't know if they were going to make you an offer or not. But, yes, it could save them some time internally to prepare these things. Recruiting and hiring can consume quite a lot of resources inside a company, so bowing out early is likely to be appreciated. – Max Hodges Mar 24 at 3:04
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Openness is your friend here. If a company wants you, then they will be flexible. I would wait for Company Y's response, and if positive, then ask them if it would be possible to have less hours this time. Here is an example email to Company Y (if they give you an offer):

Thank you very much for your generous offer. Unfortunately, I expect my work load this semester to be very high, so I do not think it would be possible for me to fulfill the obligations of both my coursework and the internship. If it would be possible to reduce the internship to XXX hours, then I would enthusiastically accept the offer. Working at YYY would be a dream job for me, but upon reflection, I think that I could only ... after my 3rd year (which I would very much like to do).

From your edit, it isn't clear to me exactly what the issue is (hence a little bit of ambiguity above), but I would let the company know. They may be flexible. And in any case, it will certainly come across better than just rejecting an offer.

Edit:

I think it would be prudent to inform company X that you want some time to make a decision. Or at the very least, ask how much time you may have to make a decision.

  • [1] Although I agree that it might be worth to hear company Y out and ask them if it's possible to reduce the hours, there are two things I disagree with you. 1/ "If a company wants you, then they will be flexible." True, but there are several ways this could not work out. Asking for a week to make a decision is OK (it wasn't mentioned in the answer, but OP you should notify company X that you'll take x days to answer to their offer, don't just stay silent for a week), many companies will accommodate that, but not all. – MlleMei Mar 24 at 8:04
  • [2] Also, company Y could take longer to respond (which happens a lot), or negotiations for the hours could take more time, making it more than a week. Company X might not be willing to wait longer for OP, no matter how good a candidate he is. – MlleMei Mar 24 at 8:05
  • [3] 2/ "And in any case, it will certainly come across better than just rejecting an offer." I totally disagree, since there's nothing unprofessional or negative about applying to several places and accepting an offer elsewhere. This happens all the time, companies know this and are used to it. But this is also why I proposed to notify company Y as soon as possible, you'll be seen considerate about the company's time and resources. – MlleMei Mar 24 at 8:05
  • I am in charge of bringing on several interns for our company. I am giving my opinion about what I would want the interns to do – bremen_matt Mar 24 at 8:11
  • I understand, and I agreed with most of what you said. There were just some points I disagreed with and wanted to share, no diss intended :-) – MlleMei Mar 24 at 8:17

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