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How to Reject an Internship Offer?

Congratulations! You’ve received that internship offer you’ve been feeling ambiguous about. You may have received a few other calls as well. It’s common to lose sleep and stress out when trying to make a choice from among several options.

When you do decide to turn down a particular internship offer, you’ll have to make a polite and professional rejection that doesn’t come back to haunt you later when you enter the industry.

First, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you may want to reject an internship. Then, let’s look at how to reject an internship offer gracefully.

Reasons to Decline an Internship Offer

Your reason may not be the same as the next person’s. But here are some reasons that may make an internship a poor fit for you.

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  • It only plays up to your strengths but doesn’t teach you something new. Maybe the internship you’re considering will keep you in your comfort zone and won’t offer opportunities to do something you’ve never done before. You need to reject such an internship for the sake of your professional and personal growth.
  • Some internships won’t necessarily give you the chance of getting a full-time job afterward. You may want to reject the offer that doesn’t promise a full-time job after you graduate.
  • Any internship that doesn’t tie-in with your career goals and your future plans will need to be rejected.

Reject the ones that don’t meet the cut. It’s always best to not jump at the first internship offer you receive. Instead, look for ones that add value to your career and resume.

Always speak with your Internship Advisor before you make any kind of choice or reject any offer.

How to Nake Your Rejection Professional?

When you’re rejecting the offer, you want to make sure that you acknowledge the time and interest the company has invested in you. Be brief, respectful and graceful, so that you’ll end that relationship with your reputation and integrity intact.

The best thing to do would be to call the hiring manager as soon as you’ve made up your mind. Don’t delay. Delay would be disrespectful to the other company as well as to the candidates who are also waiting for the internship and would be happier than you to receive it.

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Briefly explain that you’re reluctant but that you have to decline the internship offer. You’ll probably be asked why. Be brief and truthful in your response. Let them know that you’re giving up the internship for a paying job that you need or that you no longer feel the internship they’re offering you is the best for you.

You don’t need to explain too much, feel guilty or make excuses. You may find yourself in a position where you have to contact the company in the future. Make sure you tell the recruiter that you appreciate the time they’ve taken with you.

How to Write a Formal Note of Rejection

After calling the company to let them know you’re turning down their offer, you should also send in a formal email. Instead of using a template, we suggest you write a fresh email every time. It will make the note feel less impersonal and leave a better taste in the mouth.

Having said that, it’s useful to take a look at some samples to know what to put in your note. Here is a sample email to refer to:

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your time and offer. I really enjoyed the opportunity to interview with you.

I wanted to let you know that I recently accepted another internship. While I am passionate about the work you’re doing, the offer that I accepted is a paid internship that will allow me independence. I wanted to tell you as soon as possible so this doesn’t interfere with your candidate search.

I hold your company in high regard and hope we can stay in touch through LinkedIn. Thanks again for your time, and for considering me as a candidate.

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]

Note that in the email, you must begin by thanking them for the offer. Mention your reason for declining the offer. You could explain your decision further in a sentence or two. You should not be afraid to say that you’re rejecting their offer for a paid position or for another internship that suits you better as far as your career goals are concerned.

End the email by thanking the recipient again and sign off with ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Respectfully.’

What Not to Do

While the process of rejecting an internship gracefully is quite straightforward, there are some mistakes you could potentially end up making if you’re not careful. Here’s a look at the most common errors that sour the relationship between the hiring manager and the candidate so future contact becomes uncomfortable.

  • Don’t say anything negative about the company that’s offering you the internship or about the person who is your contact. It’s alright to say why another offer is attractive, but wise not to put down the offer that the company is giving you.
  • Don’t lie to them about where you’re going. If they’re motivated enough, they could easily find out. If you lie, you blow any chances of working with the manager or that company in the future. Burning this bridge could cost you networking opportunities or job opportunities in the future.

The Bottom-line

Recruiters do a lot of work on each candidate they send an internship offer to. Be sure to acknowledge this when you’re sending the rejection note or calling them. Put yourself in their shoes. Your rejection will be easier to take if your email and phone calls are professional and graceful. Don’t forget that recruiters often switch companies and talk to each other. You could end up working with them in another company in the future.

Always proofread your email before you hit Send. You can ask someone else to proofread it for you if you prefer. It’s also a good idea to end the email with an open-ended line such as: “I look forward to talking with you next semester.”