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I'm very happy working at my current summer internship, but there is a lab opportunity at my University next summer that is very well regarded (most employees at my internship have worked there) that I am going to apply to. It is extremely competitive and there's a good chance I won't get it.

Should I tell my current internship employer now that I'm applying to this lab for next summer? Or should I wait to see if I get the lab job first?

EDIT: Also this lab job needs a recommendation from my previous employer. Should I get it from someone lower in the company and ask them not to tell management?

closed as off-topic by gnat, David Segonds, Jan Doggen, jcmeloni, ChrisF Sep 5 '14 at 15:34

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    I see no reason why you would want to disclose it. I think in most cases you wouldn't want to mention anything unless you already have an offer. – Collin Sep 4 '14 at 17:15
  • Are you expected to do an internship there next summer or have you already committed to doing one? – Tyanna Sep 4 '14 at 17:15
  • I haven't committed to interning here again. But it's sort of expected. The real trouble is a need a recommendation from someone here at my current internship – d2ydx2 Sep 4 '14 at 18:06
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Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Once you've got your lab opportunity firmly in hand i.e. the offer with the T's crossed and the dots filled, then you can afford to think about what to do with your summer internship.

Don't sweat about informing them that you are not available for the summer internship, if you are in the happy situation where you can't be in both places at once and you have to pick one: the sponsor of your summer internship will simply give you internship to the next most viable candidate down the list, and that candidate should thank you for the opportunity they inherited from you :) As a matter of courtesy and consideration, make sure so far as possible to give them adequate notice when you decide to drop the summer internship. But not until the lab offer is where it belongs, securely in your hand :)

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Should I tell my current internship employer now that I'm applying to this lab for next summer? Or should I wait to see if I get the lab job first?

There is no need to tell anyone now about an internship that you may or may not have next summer

  • You don't know if you will actually be offered this internship. As you said, there's a good chance you won't get it.
  • You don't actually know if you will accept it if offered. It might be well-regarded, but the only thing that matters is the specifics regarding you.
  • It's too far away in time. Anything can happen between now and then. That company could decide in February that they don't want to have interns any more. You could decide to move somewhere too far away. Something better might come along.
  • You might flunk a course and decide you need to forgo an internship in favor of a summer makeup course (probably not, but who knows?)
  • Most companies don't expect a commitment regarding next year for at least a few months more.

Retain your flexibility for a while. Keep the (potential, not-yet-certain) news to yourself. Plenty of time to spread the news later, when it's no longer a "potential" internship.

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