Background: I'm a computer science student that goes to a well known US college. In September, I will be going into my senior year. Last summer, I interned at a well known tech company, let's call them company A. This summer, I landed another an internship at an even larger tech company, company B. I'm currently interning at company B.

Yesterday, I received a formal full-time offer from company A. They are offering an above-average salary and a large amount of equity. I have about a month to make a decision, after which the equity will decrease. Realistically, I don't think I'll get a better offer than this at any other company, so I'm very tempted to take it. Company B would probably match the salary but they almost certainly wouldn't match the equity.

I want to take the offer from company A, but I'm slightly concerned about possible repercussions since I'm currently employed at Company B. The two companies operate in the same space and indirectly compete with one another. Do you guys have any advice on what to do? Do I need to tell my current employer about this offer?

  • What makes you think a job offer from another company is a conflict of interest? You don't plan on sabotaging Company B as you finish your intership with B - I hope. – paparazzo Jun 11 '16 at 16:19
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    J Doe - It would be a good idea to follow Michael Karas's advice and note in the body of the question that the offer from Company A is a deferred offer that won't take effect until about a year from now, after you graduate from college. That makes a big difference in how the question is to be answered. Michael Karas didn't know that tidbit when he wrote his answer; he naturally assumed the offer from Company A would take effect now. – David Hammen Jun 12 '16 at 0:04

You do not need to tell company B about any offers. That is private and confidential information between you and company A.

You mention that the offer from company A is for a full time position. I think you need to place great consideration on how this will conflict with your ability to complete your senior year work this coming September. Some companies will make allowances for this kind of situation but it still likely means that completing your education gets short changed as a part time focus.

You have clearly already invested three or more years of your life in the education endeavor. You really owe it to yourself make it be a priority to see that through to completion. Keep in mind that once you enter the full time work force collecting a paycheck life focus can and does change taking twists and turns that you may not even be able to picture at this moment. It is very common that those changes in life focus can cause completion of education to take a low priority.

  • The full time offer is for after I graduate, so a year from now. Basically if I accept it now, I'll lock in the amount of equity that they are currently offering new grads. If I wait a year to accept, I'll get the amount of equity that they are giving a year from now. Either way, I will be finishing my degree full time. – J Doe Jun 11 '16 at 16:03
  • Sounds like a great plan. You may want to edit your question to indicate that the full time offer from company A is "a deferred full time offer till after graduation". – Michael Karas Jun 11 '16 at 16:13

Do I need to tell my current employer about this offer?

No. This will be a test of whether you can keep your mouth shut for the next few months and whether you can perform well in your current internship despite having a fantastic offer that won't take effect until about a year from now. You might perform so well in your current internship that Company B also offers you a full-time job. If that offer isn't quite as good as the one you have in hand from Company A, that might be the time to bring out that other offer as a bargaining chip.

Since you live in the US, your job offer from Company A is not binding on you, and it is not binding on Company A either. A lot of things can happen in a year. Company A may go belly-up or experience other troubles that make them rescind that offer. You must not take that offer as a given, and that means you should not tell Company B about it. Just do your job the best you can, and learn something.

Equity sometimes pays off immensely, but other times it is absolutely worthless. You have some homework to do in the next year; you need to estimate (conservatively) the value of that equity offer. This is the only way you will be able to compare the offer from Company B, or the offer you get from Company C as a result of a job fair.

One last thing: What Company A is doing is tying down your salary with that equity offer. It precludes you from going back to them with a counteroffer (without losing some of that equity) after that month expires. Sometimes golden handcuffs are nice, but other times, they're just handcuffs.

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