How to Reject an Internship Offer

How to Reject an Internship Offer – Tips that Work!

People say it’s difficult finding an internship. There have been stories of students who sent out ten emails daily for 50 days and finally got an offer letter on email 498! But therein lies the problem. Email number four hundred ninety-eight opened the floodgate to more acceptance emails, and voila, they’ve got more internship offers than they can accept. What happens, then? Now, what’s more, challenging than finding an internship? It’s rejecting an internship offer!

You see, companies are always looking for people willing to learn and work, and with some luck, you can land the right internship. But if you’re in an awkward situation where you land two suitable internships, you’ve got to write that rejection email! Here comes one of the most decisive moments of your life as a young undergraduate – choosing which offer to reject. If you’re reading this article, you’re considering making that decision. Let’s look at the steps to take to reject your offer of an internship.

Why reject an internship offer?

You could find yourself in one of the situations listed below:

1. When the internship does not align with your interests – If you’re majoring in Finance, you probably won’t be qualified for an Engineering internship.

2. Unacceptable work conditions (working remotely versus office work)

3. If the work hours are not convenient for you (nine to five)

4. Your schedule won’t allow you to take on more responsibilities

5. Got another offer that aligns with your career path

6. Benefits are not sufficient – paid or unpaid internship

How to reject an internship offer

It is always advisable to reject an internship in writing, no matter your relationship with your would-have-been employer or your mode of communication before this point. However, it wouldn’t hurt to cushion the shock of your rejection with a phone call before you write. If you got the internship offer through a friend, a family member, or even a recruiter, it’s best to start with a phone call. By doing this, you would retain the goodwill in that relationship.

Thank your contact

Your recruiter, family member, or friend spent valuable time and energy to get you this internship. Somewhere along the journey, you may have become more closely attached, mainly if you talked a lot. The first thing to do once you decide to reject the internship is to pick up a phone and call them. Reassure them that it was not because of something they did wrong and that you sincerely appreciate their investment but that you would be moving on. Inform them about your intention to email the company.

Send an email

Once you’ve decided, email the company whose internship you want to reject. Please do this as soon as possible to enable them to fill the position. Be professional and go straight to the point. Thank them for the opportunity they gave you by offering an internship position.

Explain why you no longer want the internship

There have been arguments for and against this. While some people think the company deserves an explanation for your decision, others believe you should move on without one. But here’s a thought to help you decide: think of an internship as a relationship. You’d want to let down the other person softly so they don’t feel inadequate. In rejecting an internship offer, an explanation would help the company not beat itself up, thinking they need to improve. And if they do (need to improve), it’s not your place to say so. There are lots of excuses you can give without hurting anyone.

Request to stay in touch

You mustn’t close this chapter because you don’t know when to reopen it. Specifically, an internship may be the beginning of your career. Therefore, you will need contacts to put in a good word for you. You cannot afford anyone to badmouth you even before your career takes off. Besides, you may come full circle if you find yourself seeking employment with them after your internship.

Bring value to them

Ask if you can recommend a friend for the position. Follow them on social media and keep in touch. Share their content so that they can pick up followers from you. Please put in a positive word for them whenever or wherever you can. Reach out every few months to inquire about their activities and update them on yours. The aim is to keep the door open because you may need to walk through it.

Do’s and Don’ts for rejecting an internship offer

Once you decide not to intern with the company, let them know immediately.


  • Be professional. Send them an email.
  • Make it short and to the point.
  • Thank them for the opportunity
  • End on a positive note


  • Please don’t waste time telling them you won’t intern with them.
  • Also, please don’t make them feel inadequate in your explanation.
  • Don’t make it about money, even if it is.

Before you reject that offer

People say it’s hard to find an internship, but it is harder to reject one. Therefore, before you refuse an internship, ask yourself some direct questions. After all, when push comes to shove, it’s all about you. The following questions will help you decide whether to reject an internship offer:

Do you have an alternative to this internship you’re about to reject?

Ensure you have another internship waiting. It would be foolhardy to reject an internship based on an anticipated offer from a company you prefer. What if that offer doesn’t come?

Why do you want to reject this internship?

If your reason is that the internship you desire pays more money, think again. At this point in your life, you should focus on learning, not earning. So, don’t chase money – chase learning. You have plenty of time to earn later. On the other hand, if the stipend in your chosen internship is considerably higher, and your financial situation can benefit from this difference, then you need to make that change.

Is your desired internship right for you?

Apart from having an internship that aligns with your future career path, the right internship can do a lot for you. Firstly it will help you to learn new skills and discover old ones. Secondly, it will help you meet new people and make friends. It may seem small, but it’s quite a lot in the long run.

Whom will your decision affect?

If you got this internship through your campus recruiter, you’ve got the start of a headache. Rejecting an internship offer may affect the relationship between your school and the company. Check if your school imposes sanctions on students who reject internship offers.

What should an ideal internship rejection letter look like?

Take a look at this example.

Dear (Name),

Thank you so much for the fantastic internship opportunity you’re offering me at (organization name). My interaction with you during the candidature process was a learning experience, and I genuinely appreciate that. I especially enjoyed the tour of the organization and the warm welcome from other team members.

However, I will not be able to accept this offer as it does not align with my plans for a future career path. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

I look forward to talking with you soon, so let’s stay in touch. Thanks again for your time and support.


Your name.


Is it wrong to reject an internship offer after accepting it? Some people think it’s unethical, and others think you should do what’s best for you. Either way, you’ll have to think deeply about the decision you’re about to make. Hopefully, this article will point you in the right direction.

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