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Undergraduate summer internships, engineering, US.

Company A

After two interviews over a period of two weeks, on Thursday company A extended an offer to me. I asked them when they needed a decision, and they said Monday. I asked if there would be official documents to look over, and they said that they typically don't go through the laborious process of preparing the documents until they have verbal acceptance (this is a college internship so perhaps this is typical, I don't know). They were happy to share with me the wage they were offering me (higher than advertised) and said the start and end dates of the internship were flexible depending on my school schedule. I couldn't think of any other information to ask about. That was Thursday evening.

Company B

Friday afternoon I had an interview with company B. I expected company B would be my preferred choice, and the interview confirmed it. They seem very willing to consider me. I explained to them that I had a previous offer and was expected to make a decision Monday. As anticipated, they said it was unlikely that HR could prepare an offer that fast and that in the end I must make the best decision I can for myself. They told me they would reach out to me by Monday to let me know "one way or the other". Based on my strong qualifications and perceived chemistry with the interviewers from company B, I expect that they are interested in offering me a position.

Dilemma

I would prefer to take the internship with company B, but company A wants a decision by Monday. Company B does not expect to be able to make an offer by Monday.

Questions

  • Do I attempt to stall company A by negotiating or something?
  • Perhaps I could request an official offer document from company A - but wouldn't it be unethical to make them go through the effort if I am hoping to land a position with company B?
  • Is verbal vs. official offers a crucial issue here? When company B said Monday is too soon to extend an offer but they will be in touch Monday "one way or the other", does that suggest that they might extend a verbal offer Monday while preparing an official offer?
  • What is the standard for college summer internships in engineering - is it normal to refrain from providing an official offer document until after receiving verbal acceptance?
  • What is the ethical/professional limit to which I can attempt to stall company A?
  • If company B provides a verbal offer Monday, is it wise to accept and decline company A's verbal offer, or should I insist on official offer documents from both companies (forcing company A to invest time into an offer I would prefer not to accept)?

Thank you for your insight.

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1 Answer 1

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Do I attempt to stall company A by negotiating or something?

You can try but company may not go for it.

Perhaps I could request an official offer document from company A - but wouldn't it be unethical to make them go through the effort if I am hoping to land a position with company B?

That would be somewhat unfair towards company A. They also just tell you no.

Is verbal vs. official offers a crucial issue here? When company B said Monday is too soon to extend an offer but they will be in touch Monday "one way or the other", does that suggest that they might extend a verbal offer Monday while preparing an official offer?

In most cases verbal is good enough. If B comes back and say they like you and want to make an offer, there is a good chance they will follow through.

What is the standard for college summer internships in engineering - is it normal to refrain from providing an official offer document until after receiving verbal acceptance?

That is fairly common. Prepping paperwork costs time and money and why waste it if the candidate isn't interested in the first place.

What is the ethical/professional limit to which I can attempt to stall company A?

The main risk of stalling is that A will simply rescind the offer. Whether that happens on Monday or you can push it, we don't know. That is a risk that you would have to take.

If company B provides a verbal offer Monday, is it wise to accept and decline company A's verbal offer,

Depends on how the call goes, but if they actually say that they will make you an offer, it's fairly safe to assume that they will.

or should I insist on official offer documents from both companies (forcing company A to invest time into an offer I would prefer not to accept)?

"Insisting" on anything as an intern candidate is generally not a great idea. There are plenty of other candidates which make less of a fuzz.

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  • Great, thank you. Do you think it would be appropriate to request company A allow me another day or two to think? Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 23:02
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    @electronpusher - You can ask, if they push back, only you can decide if you are willing to accept the risk of NOT giving them an answer on Monday You have an offer, having an internship out of college completed, is a big deal. It is very difficult to get that first job offer out of college, in the current work environment culture, companies typically look towards people with experience. As somebody who did not do an internship for a variety of reasons in college, I regret NOT having that experience, but in the end it still worked out. In the end it likely won't matter.
    – Donald
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 6:16

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