So you just got an offer for a great internship that you’d really love to take, but you already accepted an internship a few months ago from another company and they are expecting you to start in May. It was a good company, decent pay, and you felt some pressure to commit at the time because it was the only/best offer you had and they weren’t going to keep the position open forever. Can you renege on (back out of) your acceptance of the first offer? Should you?

It’s not illegal, but it’s also not without consequences.

Going back on your commitment to join a particular employer, even as an intern, is something companies take very seriously. It is considered unprofessional and unethical because you are not keeping your word, essentially breaking the foundation for trust. You most certainly will “burn a bridge” and miss out on future opportunities to be hired for paying positions by that company. The company will be put in a difficult decision to either extend an offer to the runner up they already turned down (and who probably accepted another offer) or to start the recruiting process all over again in the final hour. 

On campus, your school may have certain consequences depending on how the internship was obtained. If it was on campus recruiting (OCR), they can ban you from future job fairs, resume workshops, and career resources. Even if you didn’t get your internship through OCR, some companies may contact your school, who could still impose sanctions because they feel that students reneging on accepted offers harms the school’s reputation with employers they count on for donations and student placement.

Finally, you have a personal reputation to uphold. You may think that the only person who knows is company A, but recruiters talk, people change companies, and you’d be surprised at the potential harm down the road in your chosen industry. If you worked with a recruiter, internal or external, they won’t be willing to put their own reputation on the line for you again. Additionally, internal recruiters can move to other companies, causing you issues down the line should that person be working for a company you want to work at. There are plenty of cases where candidates have lost both offers due to people who knew about the situation talking. At the end of the day, you have to decide if your word matters and if that is a personal value you want to uphold. 

Prevention is key to avoiding an ethical dilemma.

The trend of reneging offers is becoming increasingly more common, mostly due in part to a competing marketplace for talent. Companies are contributing to the problem by moving dates up sooner and sooner, and some pressure candidates to accept offers even up to a year before. However, leading employers understand that top talent has choices and will respect and work with you through exploring those options, within a reasonable timeframe, provided you are open and communicate. 

Let the company know that you haven’t finished hearing back from all of the companies that you’ve interviewed with, and you want to make an informed decision, but that you are interested in working there.  If you don’t really intend on accepting their offer, release it to someone who really wants it. Stay in communication and jointly agree on a date that you will get back to them. Without the communication, they will assume you don’t really want to work there and give the offer to another candidate. Alternatively, if you drag it out unnecessarily but ultimately end up joining, you show that you aren’t that excited and could cause an awkward situation when you start.

Know what is important to you about an internship and be able to vet out opportunities up front. If an internship is missing a “must have” on your list or shows any reg flags, don’t waste their time or yours. If you’re truly excited and it really is what you want, trust your gut, commit, and stick with it. Your intuition is usually right.

As for return offers, your best bet is not to accept them to begin with, unless you are 100% sure you want to work there post graduate. You won’t be the same person you are in one year from now, and it’s probable that what you want from an internship will be different too. While this may not seem logical at first, you most certainly will have other offers next year and the purpose of interning is to gain broad experience. If you already interned with a company, give another a try. You don’t know what you don’t know, and this is the best time in your life to unapologetically try new things.

If you do renege, be as professional as possible.

If after careful consideration, you do decide to renege your original offer, be as professional about it as possible. Let them know as soon as you can, so they can start working on a backup plan. Write a letter explaining the situation and apologize for the inconvenience you have caused. This will minimize your reputational risk. You can even recommend a replacement, which they surely will appreciate. Under any circumstances, do NOT wait to no show on the first day.

Don’t renege and still win.

You still really wanted to accept that new/better offer, but you’ve decided it isn’t worth the risk. Both the current employer and the prospective one will thank you. You can write a letter to the prospective employer and let them know that unfortunately you have already committed to another company, but that you would like to be confirmed or considered next year for an internship/full time position. They will understand and respect this, and most importantly they will respect you. You will build good will with the new company and open a door for future positions, while protecting your reputation with the current one. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.

You’ve been through months of revising your resume, applying for internships, attending virtual job fairs, and interviewing with companies. You finally have an offer, but you need to make sure it’s the right fit. Your internship sets the foundation for your career. Ask yourself these questions before accepting:

  1. Am I excited about the work I will be doing?

When it comes down to it, will you be happy with what you are doing for the length of your internship? Do you find it valuable and useful to your career as well as enjoyable?

  1. How did the people I met throughout the interview process make me feel?

It’s important to feel comfortable with the people you’ve met with so far. Did they make you feel welcome? If you had a chance to meet the teams you will be working with, are you excited to work with them? 

  1. What are the hours like?

Will the hours work for you and your schedule? Are you planning to take any summer classes you need to schedule around? What will this mean for your current daily routine?

  1. Do I care about the company’s mission?

The answer can be no, but it could also be yes. If you get excited about what the company does, its culture and values, you know you’re on your way to a good fit.

  1. What else did I learn throughout the interview process?

How did the company answer the questions I asked throughout the interview process? Did those questions make me more or less excited about the company? Were there any red flags?

  1. Are there opportunities for professional development or full-time work?

Post-internship, will there be full time opportunities and is that important to you? What other professional development are they offering? What skills will you learn?

  1. What are the pay/benefits?

Obviously pay is important. Look at the total benefit package available to you, not just the hourly rate. Weigh this against your other options and expectations. Is this negotiable? Is it a fair offer?

  1. Is the structure (virtual/in-person/hybrid) ideal for me?

You’ll have to weigh the benefits of both. Virtual is convenient and flexible, however you miss out on some of the interaction with people as well as the feel for the company’s culture in the office. In Person has more opportunity for collaboration, community involvement, and spontaneous learning, but sometimes lacks the flexibility of schedule and location.

  1. Do I have any other offers on the horizon?

It can be exciting to get an offer, but if you have other opportunities that you haven’t heard back about yet, it could make sense to wait to accept. You want to avoid reneging an offer. If there is a deadline you are unsure of meeting, consider asking for an extension. If you know that this is the one, trust your gut and go for it!

  1. Can you see yourself succeeding in the role?

Can you visualize a successful internship with this company? Do they have clearly defined goals? Did they give you assurance that they will equip you with the skills necessary to succeed?

At our last Engagement Committee Meeting we asked, “What’s your favorite thing about or that you’ve done with RISE?” Here’s the top 10:

  1. Conference Scholarships – I loved being able to go to a conference and meet people and learn. It was one of my favorite experiences. My company wouldn’t have sent me otherwise. I can’t wait for in person events to be fully back.
  2. Mentorship Program – I met an amazing mentor and so much came out of that. My friend is also in the mentorship program and she loves it. She even made an important career decision and got out of a job she hated, but was convinced to stay in insurance. She probably would have left the industry otherwise. (Check out Mentorship Program)
  3. Virtual Halloween Party – The virtual costume party last year was my favorite thing. It was so much fun! (View upcoming events)
  4. Elite 50 – I love that we are highlighting internships. That’s so important for our industry! (More about Elite 50 Internships)
  5. RISE Awards – Of course, I’m so grateful for being recognized as a RISE Award winner. (2021 RISE Awards)
  6. Nationwide Networking – A lot of other groups are local or specialized. I love that with RISE you meet so many people I wouldn’t normally have the chance to interact with.
  7. It’s FREE – I really love how RISE is free. Every other group I’m a part of charges a membership fee and my company doesn’t always cover it. RISE is very inclusive this way and I get all my CE covered. (Join RISE free)
  8. Committees – I love the committees and being able to work on cool projects while meeting other members. I hear a lot of different perspectives from other companies and areas of insurance. (Sign up for committees)
  9. College Connections – I’m helping with college reach outs and I love that I’m able to represent RISE to the school where I graduated and tell students about Insurance.
  10. Sense of Community – Above all, my favorite thing is all the great people I’ve met through RISE and the sense of community everyone has. (Follow us on LinkedIn)

If you’re new to RISE, we hope this list helps you find something to get involved with. Come join us at our next meeting!

James Emming, Senior Claims Auditor at The Cincinnati Insurance Companies

James chose a career in insurance because it gives him the opportunity to help people when they need it most, along with the chance to solve complex problems.

James expresses, “As a claims representative, you show up knowing that you can’t replace the memories or sentimental value, but insurance means we can put a roof back over their heads and help get them back on their feet. Insurance is a noble profession with a growing number of career opportunities. I tell everyone, if you like helping people, insurance might be the right career for you.”

“I tell everyone, if you like helping people, insurance might be the right career for you.”

James Emming, Cincinnati Insurance, RISE Award Recipient

RISE to the Occasion: James is a problem solver, regularly assisting others to help them more efficiently complete their work. When he doesn’t know something, he proactively seeks out instruction or training. He’s not happy with the status quo and is always interested in upping the game and finding better ways to complete audits. James is working to innovate audit processes with the use of artificial intelligence and text mining so that he and coworkers can apply their expertise and knowledge where it’s most needed.

“James has been instrumental in the rollout of our new File Review program for field claims representatives. He designed and helped implement an electronic workbook we use to compile information used in the annual review process for field claims associates. His contributions helped us improve the consistency of the file review process, enabling more accurate comparisons.” Kenneth Kerby, The Cincinnati Insurance Company

James was nominated by his supervisors and peers. The annual RISE Awards is a showcase of the Insurance Industry’s top rising talent. Each year we receive dozens of nominations and the RISE Advisory Board votes to narrow down to the top. Among the winners are young professionals from all areas of the industry, from claims to brokers to SIU and TPAs. The winners all have one thing in common: They are making a big impact in their company and to the industry as a whole. They are role models and examples of what someone can do with the amazing opportunity of a career in insurance.

The 2020 RISE Award Nominations are now open through April 30th

Nominate a deserving young professional today!

By: David S. Williams, CPCU, AIC, PCP, Chief Claims Officer

I’ll readily admit during most of my 36-year career in the insurance industry I was a full-fledged micro-manager.  As a “boomer” I was brought up in the business with many “top down command and control” leaders as examples.  I thought at some level job title, experience and knowledge were most of what a good leader needed to effectively and efficiently lead people and run a business. 

What I’ve learned is a lot of time and energy was wasted trying to make sure those I was keeping a close eye on, for everything they were doing, was getting mixed results and serving to stifle morale and the motivation to deliver excellence.

Today, as I work here in Austin, TX for a not for profit in a very competitive job market, it’s hard to find the experienced talent you need at any cost.  We’ve found the best alternative is to hire smart recent college graduates and develop them into the employees your company needs to be successful. 

Over the last 7 years I was provided with the opportunity to lead and develop several Millennials.  What I’ve learned from them has helped to fundamentally change my leadership style while providing the pure satisfaction of watching young less-experienced professionals learn and grow their careers.

I’m the father of 3 Millennials so I know a little bit about how they think and act and unlike some members of my own generation don’t have much of the perceived or actual animosity toward this younger generation simply because “they don’t do things the way we do things”. 

I’ve seen first-hand how they use technology (taught my wife and me to text since they never answer their phones) and how they build relationships, communicate and collaborate with their friends and peers, for good or bad, during the high school and college years. 

In raising our children, my wife and I thought ahead about where we wanted our children to end up, worked with them to set goals, parameters for acceptable behaviors, to take steps to think through their actions before taking them, and to take smart risks.  Like most children, ours made mistakes.  When that happened, we reminded them to understand what they learned from the mistakes so they would not repeat them.  This approach helped our 3 children grow up to be successful adults. 

I realized when given the opportunity to lead Millennials, the same approach might work with our new less experienced employees.  Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying a leader should be a parent to their employees.  Instead, a good leader may use good parenting techniques to guide their people to look ahead, think about where they want to go with their careers, help them set goals, encourage them to seek out challenges, take smart risks, think through their actions before they take them, and learn from mistakes so they are not repeated.  This is probably good advice for anyone.

So, what have Millennials taught me over the years? 

First, they’re fearless.  Don’t be afraid to challenge them.  They love to solve complex problems and do so in very creative and what some may see as unconventional ways.  Trust them enough to let them do it in their own way, which usually means intense research and communication and collaboration with their peers inside and outside of your organization.  This might take longer, but in many instances, I’ve seen them move faster and come up with solutions many, including myself, may not have considered. 

Second, understand they will not do it the way you might have done it or want them to do it.  Give them the freedom to explore and make mistakes in their approach or solutions.  What damage can they do if ultimately you work with them to make most of the final decisions?  At times they may not deliver the results you expect.  When that happens, use these opportunities as teachable moments, not failures.  

Third, let them get out of their normal office environment to explore options not readily in front of them.  Let them work from home or somewhere they feel more comfortable.  I’ve seen first-hand many times how this works for the better.  Here’s some good advice: If you’re ever struggling to get someone at another company or governmental agency to respond to your inquiries and requests, I’ve learned if you “have your Millennials talk to their Millennials”, quite often they will open up the communication channels you were unsuccessful at opening up. 

Lastly, they want to learn constantly.  Be sure to expose them to as much of your business as possible.  Stretch them by giving them unique or non-traditional tasks or roles.  Immerse them in new and different roles, even if temporary.  Give them the opportunity to learn and establish their key business and personal relationships through a variety of educational courses and especially conferences and seminars where they can meet with their peers and share knowledge and experiences. 

Watching Millennials work, learn, and grow has re-energized me as a leader and helped motivate me to be more open and flexible in my leadership style.  I’ve found my natural curiosity has increased and I find more satisfaction than ever conducting research and learning new things.  I truly believe this will help me be the leader I need to be through the constant change we’re all going through now and for the next ten years and beyond.

I know some reading this might think that spending so much time and energy developing Millennials only to have them leave your organization might not be time and money well spent.  I can assure anyone that the satisfaction of seeing them move on to an even better job somewhere else, knowing you played a part in their success, makes up for any feeling of loss.   It also provides the opportunity to replace them and the satisfaction to start all over again with a new employee making the effort all worth-while. 

Join RISE at the Connected Claims Conference in Chicago as we interview American Modern Insurance Group’s CEO, Andreas Kleiner, on the industry, technology, hiring, and career advice. He talks about having a truly global career with a positive impact.

Communication, Culture and Consciousness: Redefining Claims Careers for Today’s Talent

By: Rob Howard, Chief Claims Officer, Farmers Insurance®

Claims is the greatest arena of differentiation among modern insurers. A claims experience is likely the primary touchpoint our customers have to consider when it comes time to decide whether or not to remain a customer. How well we serve them in their moment of need is often the make or break moment of the relationship.

In recent years, I’ve watched as technology adoption has transformed nearly every facet of the life of a claims representative. From process to culture to customer service, our every function has become more dynamic and talent-friendly.

Embracing Innovation

The insurance industry has always offered tremendous career opportunity — I should know, I started as a claims representative straight out of college and now serve as chief claims officer. But the fact that our culture at Farmers® has evolved and come to celebrate technology has allowed us to pair the traditional benefits of a career in claims with values that matter most to younger generations: innovation, flexibility and balance.

This new paradigm benefits employees and customers alike. Whether it’s working remotely or having the option to communicate via an alternative channel, we’ve implemented technologies that improve both sides of the claims experience.

It’s No Longer Business As Usual – It’s Business As You Like It

In this business, you’re unlikely to have two days in a row that are similar, and increasingly, there is more than one way to get the job done. We have an entire toolbox of technologies that streamline the way we work even as they expand the service and support we offer our customers.

Today’s customers can “Ask Alexa” for claims updates. They can send a text to file a claim. They can connect to the chat team for simple inquiries and get rapid answers and solutions. Our teams have drones to help them assess damages in the field. Employees can work from almost anywhere with an internet connection. The list goes on, but it all adds up to this: We’re doing good work with great people in smarter ways. That’s an outcome we want to repeat again and again, because it helps us attract, retain and develop the best talent to serve our policyholders.

 Communication Is Still Key

And speaking of talent, I think it’s important to note that technology hasn’t eliminated the core traits of a good claims representative. Rather, it’s made it easier for those with the right skill set to thrive.

Claims has always been the domain of self-starters and great communicators. That’s as true now as ever, though the tools used to get the job done are certainly different from those used when I got my start in this discipline. Yet dependability, willingness to learn, and interpersonal skills are still keys to success in claims and, for that matter, in the larger insurance industry.

Claims is where the connection we have with our customers comes to life. Our success or failure there comes down to the talent we have on our side. Fortunately, there’s never been a better or more exciting time to be a claims representative. No matter their ultimate career goals, this field is the perfect proving ground for upcoming talent to refine their skills and master their trade. Innovation is all around us, transforming the work we do for our customers and, critically, enhancing the work of all those who are creating the claims experience of tomorrow.

For more information on careers at Farmers Insurance visit