This is a “tough problem to have,” but if you’re in the situation, it really is stress-inducing. Some things to consider if faced with this choice:
First of all, be honest with your recruiters and/or hiring managers. Have a specific extension deadline in mind and present it. Employers interviewing and posting on campus understand that you may be interviewing with several companies, and generally understand that you’re a good, strong candidate who may have more than one offer – that’s why they want you. You don’t have to share all details, but if they make you an offer, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for additional time to consider the offer, and to evaluate all your offers at once, within a REASONABLE time frame. What is reasonable? Unfortunately, that depends on many factors, including when the offer is made (is it the fall, to start work in May, after graduation or the end of the school year?) and how long you’d like to extend the time frame. As a rule the further away the start date, the more time you have to consider the offer. Keep in mind, though, that an employer is interested in filling the position with the best candidate – who is you, at the moment. But if you ask for too long, they may not be able to accommodate you, as they have to start their process all over again and find the next best candidate. In addition, many companies have all their summer hiring wrapped up by Thanksgiving, so what seems like a long time away for you, is actually not far for your recruiter. Recruiters understand what you’re going through, and they want you to be as sure of your decision as they are of theirs – they don’t want you to second-guess your decision. They want you to come into their company confident and excited about your new opportunity. If they force you to accept their offer without considering others, they know you may accept and keep looking for a better offer. It’s far better for them to give you more time – within reason.
Second, define your priorities. Is money the most important thing to you? Location? What will the cost of living be for each position? Will you need a car? Apartment? Will you be able to start paying your student loans back when the grace period ends? There are plenty of tools to calculate your take-home pay, as well as the cost of living in many cities and towns. Use the tools and make sure you can afford to live the lifestyle you want to on the salary you’re considering.
What about the culture of the organization? Did you feel at home, or comfortable with everyone you met from the company? Reach out to others who work there, and get a feel for what it’s like to work there. Is training a priority for you? For them? What about advancement or tenure with the company? Is there high turnover? These are things you can find out with a little internet search. Also, use your Husky network. Use LinkedIn to find UConn alums who work at the companies you’re considering. Reach out to them and ask them what it’s like to work there, how they got started and whether they would do the same thing (work there) if they had it to do over again. This has the added benefit of “introducing” you to someone at the company, should you decide to work there – you’ll know someone right off the bat.
This is an exciting time – transitioning from college life to your first professional opportunity. Be thoughtful about it, but don’t stress too much. You’re not committing yourself for the rest of your life. Take advantage of the opportunity before you and grow with it.