I'm completing my 3rd year of Physics (Energy and Environment specialization), and I recently got hired at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) for a 12-month (may be extended to 16 months) paid co-op position, in the Performance Improvement Support division. In Ontario, obtaining this kind of position especially for your first co-op job is basically like winning the lottery, so I'm ecstatic I have it. I am just waiting on my security clearance to go through, and if it goes through on time I begin my job late May.

Before I was offered this position, I applied for some Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) which are 13-16 week full time paid research positions under a prof. I just found out yesterday that I won the award, and I have until the end of this week to accept/decline it. Since getting this kind of award would do wonders for me in terms of graduate studies and getting a Masters, I really want to accept it. However, because it's 13 weeks (minimum) and full time, I would need May-July completely off.

My security clearance at OPG hasn't gone through yet, and there is actually a maximum deadline for the clearance to go through by mid-August (i.e. if it doesn't go through by then, which I'm sure it will but just theoretically speaking, I lose the position). For my case specifically, the clearance might not go through until the end of June (though most likely quicker).

Would it be inappropriate for me to email OPG and ask if I could delay my start date there until end of July because of this award? The STAR URA is very competitive to get and it would be a waste to let it go, but I also don't want to lose my OPG position. Unfortunately I can't do the URA part-time while working at OPG, it's one or the other. Basically I want to do the URA May-July, and OPG August 2014-August 2015 if possible.

What do you think, would it be rude for me to ask this?


It won't hurt to ask, and there are at least two ways to approach this (combining them, if the second is true).

  • You certainly want the internship, and if it would cause a hardship, or even any inconvenience for them to push it back a couple of months, then you understand, and will start when it is best for them.
  • You expect to learn something valuable in the research position that will help you to be more useful in the internship, and thus pushing it back could also be of benefit to them. If they think that benefit is worthwhile, you would like to start the internship later.

Make it about them, what works best for them, and accept their answer gracefully. Make it easy for them to say no, and they'll be more likely to consider yes.

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