When Should I Accept a Job if I’m Still in College?

Students sitting on college campus

Your college career is coming to a close and it’s time to consider what you’ll do with your degree. After all, that student debt isn’t going to pay itself off 😜.

As the go-getter you are, you’ve been applying for career opportunities in advance of graduation. Good for you! Even better, those applications are turning into interviews. Maybe you even got a job offer already!

But is it too soon to accept that offer?

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we work closely with colleges and universities near our office locations across the U.S. In fact, we’ve offered dozens of students careers before they graduate — so we’re here to help you determine whether or not it’s too soon to accept a career.

Keep reading to learn more about the right time to accept a position while still in college and what you should expect during and after the process of job-seeking while in school.

Should I Accept a Job Offer Before Graduation?

If you’ve gone through the interview process and reached the point of receiving a job offer, congratulations! Getting a job offer is a big deal, so don’t take it lightly. The short answer is yes, you should absolutely accept a job before you graduate. However, there are certainly things to consider before saying “yes.”

The most crucial factor is whether it’s a career you actually want. We assume it is if you applied for it and went through the whole interview process. But you do have bills to pay. The “want factor” is an important piece of the puzzle though.

The other thing to think about is how long it will be before you graduate and can begin work. Usually, a good rule of thumb is to accept a career within the same school year you’ll be graduating in. But, as long as you’re transparent with the employer you’re interviewing with, and they know when you’re expecting to graduate, you can accept a job as soon as they offer it to you.

Now, you don’t need to accept a job on the spot when the offer is made to you. That’s true in any circumstance, but it’s especially true when you’re still in college. While we expect an answer to a “regular” offer within a few days, here at ATS, we generally give college students up to a month to accept/reject a position.

You Accept a Job With Months to Spare Before Graduating. Now What?

You’ve accepted a career and still have a few months before you graduate. It’s time to sit back and enjoy the rest of your college career. That’s certainly something you could do, but you can also keep your options open by applying — and interviewing — for other positions.

Whatever choice you make, just be careful not to burn any bridges. If you accept a bunch of offers and show up for the one you actually want, you’ll upset quite a few employers. Ghosting an employer could prevent you from getting a different career opportunity in the future.

Be professional. Let the employers you’re not interested in anymore know you’ve accepted another offer. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. A simple email letting them know you’re no longer interested is perfectly fine, although a phone call is preferred.

They may ask why you’ve accepted another offer and potentially even provide a counteroffer, depending on why you decided to go with the other employer. Having multiple job offers can be good for you, as a job candidate, if you do things the right way and don’t burn bridges.

Group holding graduation caps in the air

When Should I Start Working for an Employer?

We’ve offered jobs in the fall to students expecting to graduate the following May. Generally, the tentative start date is the next business day following graduation, but that date is negotiable. If you want a week to get settled, you can ask for it. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you feel ready to start working full-time prior to your graduation date, let the employer know. They’ll likely be willing to work around your school schedule if it’s realistic.

One other note: If you have a trip planned post-graduation — maybe to celebrate your big accomplishment — make sure to let the employer know. That’s something they’re going to want to plan around, whether it’s with a later start date or to plan for your time away — with or without paid time off (PTO).

What Should I Expect From the Employer After Accepting a Career?

If you’ve accepted a job prior to graduation, the burden of staying engaged shouldn’t fall exclusively on you. Expect your employer to keep in touch throughout the rest of your college career.

Beyond simple check-in emails or calls, the employer will want to hash out an official start date — if you haven’t already — closer to the agreed-upon time made during the initial job offer.

Even if you haven’t officially started work with the company yet, you should feel like you’re a part of it.

How Long Before Graduation Should I Accept a Job?

As you prepare for your life after college, it’s a good idea to start applying and interviewing for jobs months in advance of graduating — even two full semesters prior to graduation.

If your hard work of applying and interviewing turns into a job offer, that’s great! But should you accept a career already or is it too soon?

If it’s a career you want, it’s never too early to say “yes” to an offer. And, even if you do accept, it’s okay to keep pursuing other opportunities — just don’t burn any bridges. Keep in touch and be sure to let any employer you’ve accepted an offer with know if you’re no longer interested. It may turn into a counteroffer or they may wish you the best of luck. Either way, you’ve gone about it respectfully.

If you’re set on the career choice you’ve made, be sure to stay in touch with the employer throughout the rest of your college career. You’ll want to solidify a start date, whether it’s prior to or after graduation. You should also expect your future employer to keep in touch with you too so you feel like you’re part of the company — even if you haven’t officially started working for them yet.

13 Tips for Crushing Your Next Job Interview

Is a Career in Transportation Right for You?

If you’re still in the early stages of preparing for life after graduation, we invite you to consider a career in transportation. It’s an industry that impacts the lives of everyone — and it isn’t going anywhere.

And, here at ATS, there are dozens of opportunities in a wide variety of fields, some of which don’t require any professional experience.

If you have any questions about a career in transportation, or with ATS, we’d be happy to chat.

John Pulley

Written by John Pulley

John has spent nearly two decades helping connect people with their right fit — whether it’s helping them find the right degree to pursue or the right career for their needs. With ATS since 2020, John is now a talent acquisition specialist and enjoys creating relationships with candidates and finding a career that suits their goals here at ATS.

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