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I'm currently interning with a company during the summer. A few weeks ago, my team lead asked me if I was interested in continuing my internship remotely, once I go back to school. I expressed my interest, and my team lead is currently in negotiations with upper management about continuing my internship.

I was also recently contacted by a smaller startup about joining them as their head of technology. We are still in discussion about the details about my position and role in the startup, nothing is confirmed yet.

My question is, should I tell my internship company about this other offer? Would it benefit me in terms of moving along the negotiations?

  • @JoeStrazzere Yes, my course load from now until graduation is quite light. – Charles Aug 6 '15 at 15:57
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    Until you have a concrete written offer nothing is real. – Murphy Aug 6 '15 at 17:00
  • @JoeStrazzere It's a very small startup, much less security and greater risk than an established company. – Charles Aug 6 '15 at 17:39
  • @JoeStrazzere Because it's a meaningless title for a company of like 5 people. – Jack Aug 7 '15 at 9:18
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nothing is confirmed yet.

It is a key phrase here.

Until you have received a job offer, there is no sense even mentioning to your current employer about any negations ongoing with another company. It unfortunately may hurt your relationships.

When you have a job offer - you are free to discuss it with company, with which you are having an internship and if they offer you a job - congratulation, you've got 2 choices; if no - you still have a job.

  • The situation is kind of unique. because it is a 3 month summer internship. The negotiations are for extending the internship, I was never guaranteed the position indefinitely. – Charles Aug 6 '15 at 15:03
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No. I would wait.

You have nothing confirmed yet so really there is no job offer. Mentioning at this point could lead to a negative outcome and if the job offer does not go through then you are worse off. Once you have one then you can move to stage two.

Stage two: You have a confirmed job offer from another company. Should you now mention it to your current company.

I would again hold off until your current company actually has an offer for you. If you mention it they may actually stop trying to put together an offer, if your manager has to work his superiors to get an offer then any shift that makes it harder my just stall the processes. Also if they decide not to make you an offer knowing you already have an offer is not going to change their minds. So there is only downside to telling them before they make you an offer.

But if you wait and they do make an offer then you now have two offers that you can compare. At this point it may be worth using the two offers as leverage to get a better offer.

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should I tell my internship company about this other offer?

Companies generally like when employees disclose information that improves the company's ability to make personnel decisions. Of course, the company's best interests and your best interests may be different.

Pros

  • Your host company may perceive you as more valuable if they know that another company (perhaps a competitor) also perceives you as valuable.
  • Internships are learning experiences; sometimes it is the honest goal of the host company to find their interns great opportunities regardless of whether they stay on with the host company.
  • Your team lead may be able to give you some objective insight into what you can expect working at the startup versus what you can expect continuing with their company.

Cons

  • Some host companies for internships feel entitled to first consideration by their interns, and see applying elsewhere as an indication of disloyalty or lack of commitment. The argument being, "We treat you great, don't you love it here? We don't want someone who doesn't want us."
  • Your host company may feel like you're just trying to squeeze them for better compensation after only a few months on the job.
  • Even if they're happy for your potential opportunity with this startup, it's not clear that your host company has any way to support you in getting or negotiating that offer. Which leads me to your next question:

Would it benefit me in terms of moving along the negotiations?

Since what's on the table from your host company is only an extension of an internship that you have only been in for a few months this summer, the points in favor of telling them aren't worth much. Ending your term rather than extending it would negatively affect their chances of hiring you into a permanent position later, regardless of whether you have another opportunity in the works. This doesn't sound like a negotiation where very much is on the table for you to begin with, and your team lead is already advocating for you, so I don't see that you have much to gain.

On the other hand, you definitely have something of value to lose, in the support of your team lead. This is the person at your host company who is most likely to feel you owe them some loyalty and consideration in return for their guidance and advocacy. Their personality and how you approach them will make a big difference in how they react.

By all means pursue the opportunity, but in your situation my advice is not to tell your host company until such time as you've been officially offered a position that you would be willing to take. If the offer's not complete then you have nothing of value to tell your host company.

If the offer's complete and acceptable (even if you intend to try negotiating the details) then whether you tell your host company depends on whether they could possibly offer you something better. If not, then the most valuable thing you can tell them is that you're no longer interested in extending the internship—after you accept the other company's offer. But if so, you owe it to your team lead who has advocated for you to let him or her know the details of the offer, including the deadline for accepting or rejecting the offer.

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