Students should know there are pitfalls to reneging on an internship offer

From Smeal News, February 18: Original Source

A recent issue of Penn State Today included the latest edition of its Ask the Ethicist column. The current topic was especially relevant to Penn State Smeal College of Business students: “Can I turn down an accepted internship offer for a better one?”

The ethicist offered several thoughts on the subject and included points for students to consider.

At Smeal, students can leverage the Office of Career & Corporate Connections for a wide range of advice.

Ashley Rippey, director of Career & Corporate Connections, said her office has proven advice on the subject:

  • Ask for an extension if you need more time before making a decision. We can help students with this. In addition, reach out to the other company waiting in the wings (company B in this instance) to see if it can speed up its process due to your other impending offer deadline. Companies know good candidates likely have other offers — it’s not a secret. Don’t feel as though you are hurting your chances at Company B by informing it that it isn’t the only option. They already know! Try the extension first and then work with the other, “slower” company.
  • Students should think about their values when making decisions and should always use these values as a guide for determining who, in fact, their top choice is. Students should also consider the values of the company they are considering to make sure of a good values fit.
  • They should also decide how much risk they are comfortable with. Are they comfortable giving up a sure thing that may not be the “be all-end all”? Or, can they absolutely not afford to wait and be without a job? Remember, good candidates are typically highly sought after by multiple companies (as long as you’ve done your job networking and applying). If you, as a student, were able to land one internship, don’t you think there might be other offers out there? We understand internships (particularly some) are ultra-competitive, so it isn’t right to assume that every offer will come through, but might some others? Thinking this way tends to put things in perspective.
  • We at Smeal highly encourage you NOT to renege on an offer. Students who renege are typically blocked from using our internship/co-op posting system in the future and some consequences can be more severe. We abide by the Smeal Honor Code and honoring your accepted job offers is part of the code we as a college take very seriously.
  • We have had companies end their recruiting engagement with us (or threaten to) over reneging, so reneging DOES impact the Smeal brand, as well as the student’s.
By Ashley Rippey
Ashley Rippey Executive Director