First, here's some background: I'm a junior math major applying for software internships this summer. I'm mainly interested in trying to learn as much as possible from an internship position; location, pay, "feeling like I contribute" and "networking" are secondary concerns as well.
Being a pure math major---yeah yeah, it's unrelated to what I'm planning on doing, but it's fun and interesting---I'm not exactly a master coder, though I have a bit of experience from working at a tiny startup last summer and know some things about algorithms. I currently have an internship offer from exactly one place (along with loads of rejections...), a small (~20-30 engineers) but fairly successful company (Company 1.) Their pay is pretty good, their culture seems super cool, and their product is interesting. They already have infrastructure set up, so I can probably get a good feel of what it's like to work in a "real company."
I promised this company that I'd respond to their offer by March 15 (this Friday). However, I'm still going through interviews with a few other places, and think I have a pretty decent chance at them:
- A very large/successful company (Company 2) with lots of intern positions. I already declined one "host offer" from here because they gave me a very tight deadline, but they're setting me up to interview with another "host" this week. This company is big enough that I probably won't feel very "important" to them or whatever product I'm working on, but since it's big, there's a lot of opportunity to learn. On the other hand, I've heard that because they're so big, they sometimes give interns "pet projects" which aren't very fun. They usually pay very well, a bit better than my current offer.
- A moderately large company (Company 3). They've been a bit lackluster in scheduling interviews, and want to schedule one this week and one next Monday (after the deadline.) Since they're smaller, they'll probably give interns slightly more important projects, but they're probably less exciting than any of my other options. They pay about the same as my current offer.
- A very new startup (Company 4), recently founded by three guys I know; all are from my university, and two also went to my high school; I'm pretty good friends with one of them. They're just entering the "hiring phase": they have a basic product and some customers lined up, and are pretty sure they'll have revenue soon. Their idea is very cool, and since it's a small place, there's a high probability that I'll get to do something actually important. On the other hand, I probably won't have the freedom to try to learn a broad range of things, since I'll probably be doing whatever's needed to keep the company going. Not sure yet about the pay, but they have enough VC funding that it's likely to be similar to my current offer.
Now the problem is this: Company 4, which I think I'm most interested in among Companies 2/3/4 (despite the fact that I've already had experience working at a tiny startup, and probably would like to experience working somewhere bigger), really would like me to ask for an offer deadline extension of a few weeks. This is reasonable for them because they just started hiring very recently and probably can't make a decision in only a week. A deadline extension would also give me enough time to interview at Company 2 and 3 (though it's possible that I could get an offer from Company 2 by the end of the week, that's cutting it close.)
However, I'm worried that asking for a deadline extension would make it seem to Company 1 that I'm just stringing them along and using them as a last resort, even though I've repeatedly told them that "you're my top choice, but I just want to wait until March 15 to get a chance to interview elsewhere."
I probably should decide what to do by tonight or tomorrow afternoon at the latest; any advice?
Decision day is today. Company 3, which I was previously not as excited about, was very accommodating with their interview process and hired me, offering me quite a bit more than Company 1 (probably influenced by the number I gave them from Company 1, haha), and entrance into what the recruiter claimed was a "prestigious" team. (On the flip side, housing near there costs more than housing near Company 1.)
I still am not sure about the culture at Company 3, though they seem to be pretty committed to making sure employees have a good time (but what tech company isn't?) They have ~140 engineers and will have ~30 interns, but also told me that I'll be able to work on real things. What to do...