Getting an internship is a dream come true, but dealing with multiple offers is even more thrilling. The surrealness of choosing between two, or more, desirable internships or even the power shifting into your hands after months of grueling practice and uncertainty is invigorating. However, the dilemma occurs when you actually need to make a decision, especially difficult for my fellow indecisive folks. No matter how much logic or heart is entangled in the process, there is always a leap of hope and faith when signing the offer letter. To make these decisions a little easier, continue reading to hear Rewriting the Code members share their thought processes and the reasons that led to their ultimate decisions.
Define the Metrics
To guide the interview season, laying out your goals and motivations prior helps make that end decision simpler. Listing out qualities like interests, location preferences, dream companies and more, like Ava DeLaCruz did, reduces the scope of programs you will apply to and focuses your search based on your personal needs rather than the most competitive or flashy internships around. Ava details, “there were a few key factors, namely scope of responsibility, interest in potential projects, company reputation, and location.” By the end, the three companies she was contemplating all had her desire of supportive mentorship, but additional factors like her interest in the company’s product suite and location preference led her to her final decision. If these factors are defined clearly, you can use them to negotiate your offers, like how Ava was able to move her internship from Menlo Park to Boston, or display which preferences you are willing to forgo in favor of your bigger priorities.
Understand the Company
In order to make these decisions, you will need to gather the information necessary beyond the generic reputation of the company. Learning from current employees and especially former interns, which are very accessible through the RTC Facebook group open to members, provides you with the most accurate reflection of what your internship could be like. Nellie Spektor describes how “the interview process was definitely a big part. I really like collaboration and I tried to see how collaborative the place is based on the interview process.” Hence, through her pair-programming interview, Nellie hypothesized that this quality would be reflected in her internship. Ava had a similar insight when attending a company’s preview day. However, while she grasped the culture and enjoyed the experience, she realized the program would not provide her with exciting work she desired to take on. Balancing these different inputs of information, while taking into account that some could be biased or anecdotal, will give you a clearer perspective into a more authentic version of the company and internship program.
Rucha Patki had an internship return offer at the end of last summer, but after two summers, she decided to branch out. However, this did not mean she was worried about losing a coveted full-time return offer in the future. “The safety of a return offer was definitely nice. . . I really loved the company’s culture, and its size allowed for a huge variety of projects and teams to choose from. If I had taken the return offer, I probably would have explored different office locations. Ultimately, though, I realized that I only had one summer left to explore all that I could before signing on to a job full-time the following year. This led me to ultimately accepting my APM [Associate Product Manager] offer instead of accepting my SWE return offer. [This company] has an incredible culture as well. The APM program provides lots of resources for its interns, and I now have the chance to see if product management is a good fit for me before committing to it in a full-time role.” Rucha states that her second summer at the same company was still incredibly beneficial since she switched from the freshman/sophomore program into a full SWE (Software Engineer) role; however, she explains “I don’t regret going back to [the same company] that year, but would have seriously considered other companies the next time around to have a different experience in my third summer.” She recommends staying well connected with recruiters, similar to Nellie, who will be interning at a company she had previously rejected by keeping her good relationship with the recruiter, and being transparent. “When talking about my options and informing recruiters of my decision not to move forward with their interviews or offers, I made sure to explain my thought process, and mentioned that I’d be open to exploring their opportunities in the future. I found that they were all very receptive to this!” The fear of losing out on a future opportunity because you rejected them once can be daunting, but dealing with the situation professionally usually leaves the door open. However, at that point, the goals of your internship should lead to whether another year at the same internship is beneficial to your career or experience, or as Rucha describes, “I knew that if I didn’t take the APM role, I’d regret it and always wonder what it would’ve been like.”
Written in Stone
Realizing that this is only a decision for a three-month internship and not your entire career dramatically reduces the stress involved. As much as it may be your last summer or final chance at getting an “in” into your dream job, it is important to realize, and almost cathartic when you do, that internships are amazing opportunities that allow us to try out jobs. Thinking of them as a treat rather than a necessity reduces the pressure and helps lead your decisions with what you truly want to try out. Persuaded by the pair-programming interview, Nellie accepted and interned with that company last summer; however, “funnily enough it was not very collaborative (at least on my team) and that is part of why” she is interning elsewhere this summer. Internships allow for this trial and error, giving you multiple chances to see if the shoe fits; hence, making the most of it but realizing that it is not an ultimatum is beneficial. At least, this is what I tell my indecisive self.
Hopefully these rough guidelines help you make your next offer decision, whether for an internship or even a job, easier. I was fortunate to choose among various internship offers for this summer and I let these tips plus the potential of each program guide my decision. Even if I end up not taking away what I wanted, learning what I don’t like will be just as valuable for the next time.
–Sriya Lingampalli, 2019 RTC Fellow