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I am in a quite urgent situation. I recently received an offer for an internship with an international organization. The headquarters of the organization in which I will do the internship are located abroad – in a different european country than mine. The HR person confirmed the internship but told me two weeks ago that the internship will be fully official when they will send me a formal letter of acceptance. At the moment, I still haven't received their letter of acceptance. This is not because they are hesitating so much to select me, but rather because they requested a document which took time for me to obtain (and I think the time it took me was reasonable). But now I think I will get the official confirmation very soon, probably this week.

They asked me two weeks ago when I will be available and I gave them a specific date in early May (I prefer to not indicate the date, I'm a bit paranoid). The issue is that, because I did not have their official confirmation, I have not really been able to prepare my stay abroad. For example, I need to find an accommodation, and even though I found something nice, I was not able to book it because I cannot pay the deposit and book the apartment if I'm not a 100% sure for the internship. I also need to handle a lot of administrative formalities before I go – the internship agreement with my university, the scholarship application for internship abroad that must be done before I leave my country, the health insurance etc. I cannot do all this if I'm not sure about the internship and if I don't have their official confirmation. Maybe these stuffs may seem quite basic but when you add them in such a short time, it is a lot to handle, in particular because the job is abroad.

Given the starting date that I gave them and the fact that I also need to arrive a few days before the internship starts, this gives me very little time to do all I have to do before I can start. If I receive the formal letter of acceptance this week, it only gives me a few days (absolute maximum one week).

If I am officially offered the job, how can I ask them to postpone the starting date by one week ? Which arguments should I bring ? Do you think it is fine to ask them this one week deferral ? I am also hesitating about when to ask them to postpone. Should I do it just after they send me the official offer with the dates ? Or should I do it after they have signed the contract ? I guess it is better to ask them before we all sign the contract, but I am just afraid that they decide to finally not hire me because of my request. This position is a great opportunity for me and I don't want to miss the chance.

Thanks for your help!

  • Do you have any reason to feel they are annoyed with you? I don't understand why you're so worried about saying something along the lines of "Getting the documents took longer than I had planned so I need an extra week to set up housing and administrative details." If they hire a lot of international interns, they may even be able to offer you assistance that would allow you to keep your original start date. – Catija Apr 25 '17 at 20:24
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If I am officially offered the job, how can I ask them to postpone the starting date by one week ? Which arguments should I bring ? Do you think it is fine to ask them this one week deferral ?

Just call or e-mail your contact and explain your concerns. They may be able to help you resolve problems more quickly. Even if they can't help, they'll appreciate your sincere effort to be open and keep them informed.

The projects that interns are given aren't usually time-critical because the company can't fully know what skills or skill level any particular person will have. It would therefore be strange for a company that wants to work with you to be upset about a delayed starting date.

Just be honest, and try to keep them informed as early as possible.

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