Job Offers and Next Steps

Congratulations—you’ve been offered an internship, co-op, or full-time job!  Now you have to decide whether or not the position is right for you.

Assessing an Offer

Offer assessment should never be taken lightly. Consider such factors as:

  • The proposed salary and benefits package: Does it seem fair, based on average internship/co-op/starting salary data for your major?
  • The employer's core business and corporate values: Do they match your interests and goals?
  • Your potential supervisor and/or co-workers: If you interviewed on-site, did you like the people you met? Do you think you would fit in?
  • The size of the company or organization: How do you feel about working for a small startup? A huge multinational corporation?
  • The position itself: Does it make good use of your skills? Do you anticipate enjoying your day-to-day duties, based on what you know about the job?
  • The position's fit with your desired lifestyle: Will you be willing to work long hours if required? Travel frequently?
  • Flexibility: Are working hours strictly scheduled, or do you have the option to start work earlier or end later? Would you have the option to telecommute, even part-time?
  • Housing options: Are there acceptable housing options located near the employer? If not, are you willing to commute long distances, perhaps in heavy traffic?

If you're considering an entry-level job after graduation, you'll also want to think about:

  • Relocation: How much of this cost is the employer willing to cover? The cost of moving can be substantial if you have to cover all or most of it yourself, especially if you move across the country.
  • Potential for advancement: Is there a path for employees to get ahead? Does the employer promote from within?
  • Anticipated long-term demand for the employer's products or services: Is the employer positioned to survive an economic downturn?
  • Opportunities for your family: If you are in a long-term relationship, are there job opportunities for your partner or spouse in the town or city where you would be working? If you have or are considering having children, you’ll also want to find out what schools are like in the area.

Comparing Offers

Maybe you are considering two or more job offers. It can be difficult to choose, especially if you really like certain aspects of both (or all) positions.

The first issue to consider when comparing offers is salary/benefits. Your choice may seem like a no-brainer if Employer A is offering $60K/year and Employer B is offering $75K/year. However, you also need to consider the benefits package that each employer is proposing. Once your basic salary requirements have been met, look carefully at:

  • Vacation time allowance
  • Sick/personal time allowance
  • Disability benefits
  • Health insurance options (including optical and dental coverage)
  • Life insurance options
  • 401(K) or pension plan
  • Continuing education options

You might find that the benefits you are being offered by one company actually add up to much more than you'd think based on just the salary.

The other important consideration is cost of living. The value of the salary you are offered really depends on the cost of living in the area where you will be working, so consider the affordability of two or more job locations you are considering, based on your anticipated income level. 

Costs of living vary widely according to location. A small apartment in a large city might cost a lot more than a whole house in a smaller town or a rural area; however, your commuting costs might be more substantial if you have to drive from a rural area to your workplace than if you can walk to work or take public transportation. The costs of food and other amenities can also vary significantly by location.

Negotiating Your Salary

The salary that you have been offered is based on a number of factors, including the economy, the employer’s budget, and your level of experience.  Be aware that, for internship or co-op positions or for entry-level jobs requiring little experience, there may be little or no room for salary negotiation.

If you are still interested in a position but think that the proposed salary is too low to pay your bills, research average salaries for students or new graduates in your major and industry.  We provide this information each year for Penn State undergraduate engineering students and recent graduates.  Salary and cost-of-living calculators like those found at Salary.com or Salary Expert can also help you determine what would be considered a fair salary. 

Consider the entire benefits package and cost of living before you raise the subject of a higher salary with an employer.

Making Your Decision

Ultimately you have to make a choice about your job offer or offers. Most employers will give you at least two weeks to consider an offer and may be willing to give you additional time if needed. If you feel that you need additional time before you can make a commitment, contact the recruiter who made the offer to discuss how much extra time would be reasonable. If you want to discuss the pros and cons of your offers before accepting one, contact us to set up an appointment.

Once you have made your choice, notify the employer in writing (by email is fine).  Send the notification to the person who made you the offer and indicate that you accept both the position—include the job title—and the proposed salary. You should also confirm other details, including start date, relocation reimbursement (if relevant), and other benefits.  Be sure to thank the contact for the opportunity.  Review the notification carefully before sending to ensure that your spelling and grammar are flawless.

It’s equally important that you follow up in a timely way with any employers whose offers you have chosen not to accept (if applicable).  Send a brief email message to each individual who made you an offer, express your appreciation, and offer a general reason why you are not accepting the offer (for example, you received another offer for a position that was a better fit for you).  Never say anything negative about the employer.

If you have interviewed with any other employers, even if you do not yet have offers, contact those employers to notify them that you have accepted a position and wish to withdraw your candidacy. Cancel any further interviews that you have scheduled.

It is dishonest to continue with the job search process once you have made a commitment to an employer.  Reneging on a job offer—that is, accepting the offer and then declining it at a later time—is unethical and can damage your professional reputation, both now and in the future. It can also damage relationships between the employer and Penn State and can impact future opportunities for other engineering students. 

We do not support reneging on any internship, co-op, or full-time position for any reason. Students who renege on internship or co-op offers will not be permitted further use of the eCareer job search system without first meeting with our director to discuss the situation.

If an employer makes you an offer and then withdraws the offer without a substantiated reason, please let us know as soon as possible.

 
 

Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032