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I'm going into my last year and a half of school at Georgia Tech as a Computer Science major and I was recently approached by a Big Tech Silicon Valley company about pursuing a software internship opportunity there.

I applied for the internship before, but was rejected before interviewing. They apparently kept tabs on me and got in touch last week. The recruiter got to know me a bit before encouraging me to apply again in a few weeks, heavily implying that I would be moved into the interview rounds.

Like many Big Tech Silicon Valley companies, they have a long and arduous interview process (8-10 weeks long) consisting of 4-5 technical interviews, plus other behavioural interviews. I respect this company and would love the chance to intern there and possibly start my career there after college, but to be adequately prepared for the interview I essentially have to re-teach myself my entire degree in about 5 weeks. School is about to start, and I'm taking some pretty advanced and difficult classes this semester. I'm worried that I won't have the time to dedicate to preparing for the interviews fully, and that I'll either do poorly in classes or on the interview, both of which would result in me not getting the internship.

Would it be considered "rude"—or would it burn any bridges—to call the recruiter I've been in touch with and tell them respectfully that I won't be applying? I'm in serious doubt that I'll be able to balance both school and studying for the interviews. I'd like to respect their time and my time and prepare for the interview correctly.

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Not rude at all. It would be slightly different if you'd applied in the immediate past, but as it was the recruiter who contacted you this time, you're more than entitled to say "thanks, but no thanks". Just say what you said here - that you wouldn't be able to do justice to both your degree and the interview - and no bridges will be burnt.

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    Indeed, it's also worth pointing out that if they have enough replies of this nature, they might seriously start to worry about losing potentially great candidates to their interview process, and look into making it less arduous. Obviously as a candidate it's not your job to improve their interview process, but still worth pointing out! – Muzer Aug 12 at 8:50
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    It's probably worth adding whether you'd be interested in similar opportunities in the future. – Robin Bennett Aug 12 at 11:15
  • Why doesnt OP just wait to see if recruiter calls back? At that point you can decline. The fact that you got further in the process the second time is useful information. – vikingsteve Aug 12 at 14:26
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People turn down opportunities all the time. The recruiter isn't going to give it a moments thought. They'll move onto another candidate.

Politely decline and thank them for their time.

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I feel inclined to reply as a fellow Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. I did one of these interviews, it involved a two-week bender abusing my ADD medications and studying probably 20 hours a day to prepare for a startup interview. I nailed the interview, but it was awful for my every aspect of my health imaginable (mental, social, emotional, physical). The best part is the startup started going down in flames about a week after I interviewed and based on the fact that they never responded to my e-mails or calls, it was evident I was no longer of interest to them. I've found the CTO on LinkedIn and it seems like to this day he has a new company every 3-6 months.

I took one of the less-prestigious co-ops. The pay wasn't terrible for a sophomore, but I made less than probably 90% of everyone else I knew in the co-op program. I got opportunities that I couldn't put a price tag on, however. As a CS major, I got my hands dirty in the embedded software world and I was essentially working on IoT before it had a name. It was a ton of fun and led to some contracting opportunities that helped pay for my schooling.

Your messaging is perfect, if this is something of interest, I would ask the recruiter to stay in touch. It is likely said recruiter only focuses on internships and won't be able to help directly when you graduate, but if you stay on good terms with them, they may be able to point you in the right direction.

Georgia Tech is incredibly easy to burn out hardcore (I never finished my degree, long story). You are definitely keeping your priorities in order. Keep an open mind towards opportunities; there are some really cool lab opportunities you can get involved in. If they still do the VIP (vertically integrated projects) labs, they provide another opportunity to get involved with electrical engineering should that interest you.

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