Job Offers and Next Steps

Congratulations—you have a job offer! Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing and evaluating offers.

Evaluating and Comparing Job Offers

Offer assessment should never be taken lightly. However, you will probably need to spend more time evaluating an entry-level full-time position—which you might work at for years—than you would spend evaluating an internship or co-op position.

Internship or Co-op Positions

If you have one or more offers for a short-term position, such as an internship or a co-op, you should think about:

  • What type of work each position offers and how well it matches your interests
  • What types of extra benefits each employer offers for short-term workers, if any (e.g., housing stipend or assistance for on-site positions)
  • Cost of living in the position location, if on-site

Salary may be a consideration as well if you have more than one offer; however, it is not generally possible for students to negotiate internship or co-op salaries—the option is usually take it or leave it.

Entry-Level Full-Time Positions

If you have one or more offers for a full-time position after completion of your degree program, you will have more factors to consider in making your decision, such as:

  • The positions themselves—do they make good use of your skills? Do you anticipate enjoying your day-to-day duties, based on what you know about the positions from your interview(s) and any followup conversations with your contacts?
  • The positions’ fit with your desired lifestyle—will you be willing to work long hours if required? Travel frequently?
  • Flexibility—are working hours strictly scheduled, or could you start work earlier or end later? Would you have the option to work remotely, even part-time, if desired or if circumstances warranted?
  • Your potential managers and colleagues—did you like the people you interacted with during your interview(s)? Do you think you would fit in?
  • Proposed salary and benefits packages—keep in mind that benefits package can include expensive items that could help make up for a lower-than-anticipated salary, such as:
    • Vacation time allowances
    • Sick/personal time allowance
    • Disability benefits
    • Health insurance options (including optical and dental coverage)
    • Life insurance options
    • 401(K) or pension plans
    • Continuing education options
  • Potential for advancement—do the employers promote from within?
  • Anticipated long-term demand—are the employers positioned to survive an economic downturn?
  • Housing options—are there acceptable housing options nearby, if you need to work on-site? If not, are you willing to commute long distances? Would the employers cover or contribute to the cost of relocation?
  • Cost of living—would you be in a rural, suburban, or urban area? Consider relative costs of housing, commuting, food, and other amenities, which can vary widely according to location.
  • Opportunities for your family—if you are in a long-term relationship, are there job opportunities for your partner or spouse in the same location, if you are working on-site? If you have children, what are schools like in the area?

Negotiating Your Salary

Salary offers are based on a number of factors, including employers' budgets, the economy and other global factors, position types, and your level of experience.

For short-term positions or for entry-level jobs requiring little experience, there may be little or no room for salary negotiation. If you have prior experience, you may choose to ask whether the employer is willing or able to consider a higher offer; however, before you do so, do your research—look at average salaries for students or new graduates in your major or industry, and consider the entire benefits package and cost of living before you raise the subject.

Making Your Decision

Ultimately you have to make a choice about any 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. You should never feel pressured to accept any job in less than a week or two. If you want to discuss the pros and cons of your offers before accepting one, contact us. Talk to your family also, if appropriate.

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.

If you had more than one offer, it's equally important that you follow up in a timely way with employers whose offers you have chosen not to accept. 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 Nittany Lion Careers 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.

Learn More: Job Offers and Salary


Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032