I have an internship offer from a good tech company (A) that is about to expire and I cannot ask for an extension. However I am still interviewing with a better company that I really want to work for (B).

I don't want to decline the offer since I am not totally confident in my ability to get the offer from B.

However the terms of the offer from A states that "[this] is at the mutual consent of you and A, and is at-will in nature and can be terminated at anytime for any reason or no reason ... can only be modified in a writing signed by A's Vice President of Human Resources."

The internship from A starts in six months, so should I accept it and later cancel it if I get an offer from B? Will I get a bad reputation that will affect my later career?

  • Have you tried asking company A for an extension to consider the offer? Especially since (I'm assuming) you are still at school, you can tell them that you're busy right now, and just need another couple weeks to properly consider the offer. They may tell you no, but they may say yes too. – Nick2253 Dec 12 '14 at 23:51
  • @sonph: The best thing is to request Company A to extend the deadline for accepting the offer. Meantime interview with B and then decide. – samarasa Aug 19 '15 at 22:04

Can I terminate an accepted at-will internship before it starts?

Yes, you can terminate this at-will internship at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. Thus you can terminate it now, or any day after you accept (should you choose to do so).

The internship from A starts in six months, so should I accept it and later cancel it if I get an offer from B?

That's not something I would do. But "should" is something only you can answer.

Will I get a bad reputation that will affect my later career?

It will likely give you a bad reputation at company A. It may or may not extend beyond that.

I know of someone who stiffed the company I was working for by accepting a job offer, then deciding to not bother showing up the first day he was due working.

His reputation stuck with not only that company, but stuck with me and many others who used to work at that company. I'd certainly never hire him, and if I hear his name come up, I always tell folks what happened. He's actually applied to two other companies where I have worked in subsequent years.

  • Subsequent years - are we talking 20 years? I mean, if he was a fresh college grad when it happened and now he's applying, would you still insta-deny him if he applied to your team? Or is the response to that too wide for this margin to contain? – corsiKa Dec 12 '14 at 20:43
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    Stiffing a company, and doing so rudely by simply not showing up, does not speak well to the individual's ethical sense. Yes, that can produce a reputation which may follow you until/unless you build up a strong body of evidence that you've learned better since then. Yes, "may" is impossible to quantify, which is why this is a judgement call rather than a yes/no answer. – keshlam Dec 12 '14 at 22:54
  • @keshlam since it is apparently rude , unethical and evidence of bad character to use the rights afforded in the supposedly symmetrical at will relationship, I would suggest the OP take this opportunity to negotiate a notice period. – Nathan Cooper Dec 15 '14 at 0:24
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    @NathanCooper: Nothing wrong with exercising your rights. It is rude if you exercise them in a way that gratuitously makes more work for the folks you're working with by not even telling them that you're walking out so they can start making other plans. Walking out without notice is no less rude than firing someone without advance warning; if we don't like it being done to us without adequate justification, we should try not to do it to them without adequate justification. If you aren't interested, that's fine -- but it's courteous to say so in that case so they can make other plans. – keshlam Dec 15 '14 at 1:15

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