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I recently received two internship offers that I'm enthusiastic about. One is with a very large Fortune 500 company while the other is a mid sized company. The very large company has sent me a contingent offer via email but said that an official offer won't be provided until closer to my start date upon successful completion of a background check.

I've completed several background checks in the past and am not too concerned about that, but is it foolish to turn down the offer from this mid sized company for a contingent offer? The large company I am planning on accepting has given me several points of contact and the person I will be reporting to has been great at communicating as well. They have also already decided to make the internship remote to avoid cancellations within the program. My question essentially boils down to is it risky to wait a month or two for an official offer after a contingent one, and why does that company need several weeks to provide me with an official offer?

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    Yes, it's risky. You can accept the (tentative) offer, but do not stop looking and do not stop interviewing until you actually have a signed contract in your hands. – Stephan Branczyk Feb 26 at 1:49
  • How far out is the start date of the mid sized company vs the large company? – neubert Feb 26 at 2:37
  • In light of the Covid19 situation, the contingent offer might have more chance of being cancelled (i.e. if the business was affected, might undergo reorg, do your best to guess or ask around). If you are not doing it for the money yet, and it's significantly more prestigious / fits into your future career plans, then probably worth the risk. Also, big corps can simply be slow like that. – Pete W Feb 26 at 3:05
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is it foolish to turn down the offer from this mid sized company for a contingent offer?

No. It's a perfectly rational decision.

is it risky to wait a month or two for an official offer after a contingent offer

Only a little. It seems that the large company is on the ball and communicating well, so the likelihood of them going back is small. Nothing is entirely risk-free. Even a full formal offer can be rescinded, you can get fired on the first day of work and business realities can change unexpectedly.

why does that company need several weeks to provide me with an official offer?

That's perfectly normal for some companies. A full offer can be a lot of work as it requires a fair bit of administrative and legal paperwork and typically a pretty thorough review and signoff process. You only want to go through this, if you are fairly certain that there are no deal breakers anymore, which includes the background check.

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