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I am a fourth year university student and a 1 year internship is required before I can work professionally in my field. I recently accepted an offer to join an internship on the conditions that I complete the GRE with a suitable score and apply to their graduate school as soon as possible. The GRE and the graduate school applications needed to be completed in under two weeks.

From almost the start I have had difficulty in communicating with the internship director. I began email communications with him which was fine. However, I had to leave for the weekend and told him to call me and leave a message if there was anything important I needed to know since I would be unable to check my email or respond during the (professional) event I was going to. The message he ended up leaving was fine, but the number he left was incomprehensible. Furthermore, my phone was off so it wouldn't disturb me or others during this event so I didn't get his caller ID.

As soon as I got back I replied to his message via email and explained the situation, asking for his number as well as some other information that I needed from him to finish the graduate school application and send him the fees he wanted. I received a response of "Glad to help." and was told he was waiting on my GRE score. I was put off by this at first since he didn't actually answer anything, but I instead took it to mean he wanted my GRE score first before he would reply. I can understand that. However, I needed the information to apply to his graduate school in the next few days but could not get a response out of him despite my emails. I ended up guessing on part of my application and hoping that the information was correct.

All these emails were through my university email account. However, this would be closing soon due to me graduating so I told him after the "Glad to help." email to send any future emails to my alternate email account.

I took the GRE the next week and sent my scores to the University. That same day there was a personal tragedy in my family so I did not check my email for four days. After those four days I checked my email to see one from him saying that, due to my poor communication in response to his repeated emails, he has given my slot to someone else.

I have checked and triple checked both my university and alternate email but have received no emails from him after the "Glad to help." email. He did not call, either, despite knowing that I could get his messages since I referenced it in previous emails. I responded to this email explaining that I haven't gotten any of these emails and that the "Glad to help." one was the last I received. He has since told me he may reconsider if I keep good communications and has stressed that it's rude to leave his program after accepting his offer, specifying that students have been known to use his program for "ulterior motives".

I understand that not following through with my acceptance is rude, but I have done everything requested, including sending fees, and have now been labeled as a "poor communicator" despite my efforts to maintain contact. To me, this is a huge red flag and I don't know if I should accept his reconsideration, IF he even offers it. Furthermore, I don't want to (re)accept his offer and take away the slot from someone else.

My question is whether or not this is as big of a red flag as I see it? If so, should I accept his offer if he reconsiders?

EDIT: Thank you all for the helpful suggestions. For some more context, a master's degree is optional with this internship but graduate school admission and the GRE are required regardless. I was informed of this internship on very short notice (a few days before the deadline) from a faculty member at my university. I accepted the offer so as to ensure getting an internship with the written and explicit understanding that the GRE would be completed a week after the graduate school deadline since the university and the director accept late GRE scores.

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    This guy is a control freak, and slightly off his bean. If you have an opportunity for a different internship, I'd avoid this one. – Wesley Long Apr 24 '17 at 15:55
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    I wouldn't work for him nor would I work for anyone who would hire him. That's just ridiculous. – Chris E Apr 24 '17 at 15:59
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    Is it normal to stipulate graduate school admission for an internship? The GRE is neither a cheap test to take nor useful if your endpoint is complete 1yr work experience and find a job. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems this guy wants you to finish his graduate program in return for a 1yr internship. – CKM Apr 24 '17 at 17:53
  • Several places where I worked, there was a unwritten rule of length to respond to email: replying to an email inside of the same half day (morning/afternoon) was excellent, responding to an email under 24 hours was average and responding over a day was unacceptable. A person would be strike out taking a week-end to reply then taking 4 day to reply to another one. One time, may be, two times, no way. – Sebastien DErrico Apr 24 '17 at 17:55
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    If he has given it to someone else I really doubt you are going to get the offer. – paparazzo Apr 24 '17 at 19:07
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My question is whether or not this is as big of a red flag as I see it? If so, should I accept his offer if he reconsiders?

Yes, this is a huge red flag. He said he has already given your slot to someone else. Then he said he "may reconsider." So, what happens to the other guy he "already gave" your slot to? If that person is better than you (in his eyes), why would he be willing to reconsider?

Either he's willing to tell this other person to take a hike after having already made an offer, or he's just bluffing to make you feel bad and there is no other person. In either case, this person is clearly not playing a straight game with you, and I see no reason to expect that things would be different once you're in the workplace (assuming you can get the spot back.)

I would walk away from this one. Decline politely, like Daniel says, but don't waste your time trying to get back in. Assuming you're going need any kind of recommendation from your internship in your future career positions, this guy would probably find some ridiculous mind game to hold such a recommendation hostage when the time came - or he would just never send it to the next company and probably tell them it's your fault he didn't receive the request in time, or something like that. Bottom line, he's not worth your time, even if he would let you back in.

  • Seeing downvotes recently, but I can't improve my answer if people won't tell me why. – Steve-O Aug 1 at 17:02
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Cut your losses and find somewhere else to do your internship instead.

From what you've mentioned you have had all sorts of things to deal with and getting a good line of communication with this person is just not going to happen so I'd have done with it and look for somewhere else.

Email them saying you'll look somewhere else and if they ask why, just say that the role isn't right for you and you're looking at other options. Don't go into detail about it. Sometimes this happens and obviously if you can't work together effectively right now, which is no fault of yours, then it's best to look at other options.

Don't burn your bridges with the company or the internship director, be polite and let them know and then focus your search on other possible options. That means that if worst comes to worst and you do get offered it again you may have the option to take the internship offer if you really need it.

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    Never ever burn a bridge. You never know where the internship director may work in the future. – Mister Positive Apr 24 '17 at 16:24
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    But by the same token, don't ever forget his name. – Chris E Apr 24 '17 at 17:35
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    @MisterPositive ... unless there is a bridge that needs burning. – gnasher729 Apr 24 '17 at 22:16

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