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Obligated to Tell Employer of Grad School Plans?

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  • Thread starter kyphysics
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

If one is considering graduate school later (say, in 5 years) after starting a job, is it considered dishonest to not tell the an interviewer who asks where you see yourself in 5-10 years? Most people I've asked have said: "Hell no. It's none of their business. And they'll never hire you if you say that." But, I've had others say that you can be diplomatically honest too.

Opinions?

If there is mention of graduate school plans, how often would that sink your hiring chances for companies?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
CWatters
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5 years? Lot of people move jobs more frequently. I'd tell them whatever you need to get the job.
 
  • #3
Choppy
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There's nothing wrong in a job interview with saying that you're interested in advancing your education. The difference lies in how you say it.

Usually the point is to figure out what kind of commitment the employer is looking for. An employer looking for a two to three year commitment will be perfectly happy if your five-year plan includes returning to school after you've gained experience in that position. If you're willing to offer the commitment they're looking for then it's a good position for you. If not, remember you're interviewing them too, and the position may not be the right fit.
 
  • #4
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If I were you, I wouldn't mention it. It may backfire at you as employers are looking for commitment, and this maybe perceived as a sign of no commitment. No one would know if this was your decision from the beginning, or you reached it with time after employment. Honesty is not always a good thing.
 
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  • #5
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worry about your bottom line first.
 
  • #6
vela
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Five to ten years is a pretty long time. If an employer thinks that planning to stay "only" five years indicates a lack of commitment, I wouldn't want to work there. Trust me, that commitment won't be reciprocated should there be a downturn in business and the need for layoffs arise.

Some employers, moreover, actually encourage their employees to continue their education and will even foot the bill.
 
  • #7
Joshy
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My employer asked about this during my interview and I told them that I was open to it and interested. It turns out they're just as interested as I am, and as said above, would be willing to pay some of the bill. I'd like to go :)
 
  • #8
CrysPhys
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I side with Posts #3, 6, and 7. The time frame is dispositive; 5 yrs is a substantially long period these days (you're more likely to get laid off by then).

Bad answer: "I'm not sure what I want to do. I figured I'd work for a year or so to earn some bucks. But if I find entry-level work too boring, I plan to pack it in, go back to school, and get a master's."

Good answer: "I realize there's an initial learning period for any job position, followed by a period during which I develop mastery of my job responsibilities. But eventually I would like to increase my knowledge and skill set and expand my job responsibilities. One option I would consider is getting a master's at the appropriate time."

And, as others have responded, some companies may even foot the bill (in part or in full).

So, the Godilocks scenario ... (a) you don't want to come across as someone with too much ambition who will jump ship in a year, (b) you don't want to come across as someone with too little ambition who wants to stagnate in the same position for life, (c) you do want to come across as someone with just the right amount of ambition who wants to learn and do well at the job at hand, yet increase knowledge, skills, and responsibilities in the years to come.
 
  • #9
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My employer asked about this during my interview and I told them that I was open to it and interested. It turns out they're just as interested as I am, and as said above, would be willing to pay some of the bill. I'd like to go :)
Thanks for the response. I've heard of this as well.

I do still struggle with how to answer the question, though, and I like your wording above: "open to it an interested." I think that's a nice way of phrasing it and something I can play with and come up with my own version of.

I think that would also be honest for me as well, because I can't say 100% that I'd be applying to and leaving a company for graduate school later. But, it is something I'm interested in. At the moment, I'd simply like to work a little bit to make some money and give myself time to explore options.

Five to ten years is a pretty long time. If an employer thinks that planning to stay "only" five years indicates a lack of commitment, I wouldn't want to work there. Trust me, that commitment won't be reciprocated should there be a downturn in business and the need for layoffs arise.

Some employers, moreover, actually encourage their employees to continue their education and will even foot the bill.
That's an interesting way of looking at it too. For example, if an employer simply had a hiring need due to an upswing in the economy and would be looking to slash some positions later as their needs stabilized or diminished, would they tell me that upfront or if I asked?

Personally, I wish the question was never asked in the first place (where I see myself in 5 - 10 years). But, some do ask it and the bigger companies I interviewed with almost always did.
 
  • #10
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if an employer simply had a hiring need due to an upswing in the economy and would be looking to slash some positions later as their needs stabilized or diminished, would they tell me that upfront or if I asked?
I hope that's a rhetorical question. Of course they would not tell you that. Figuring out how likely that scenario is, should be part of your research into the prospective employer. Are they a boom/bust aerospace manufacturer reliant on government contracts? You should know that before you go in to the interview.
 
  • #11
Grinkle
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where I see myself in 5 - 10 years
Are you looking for a career or a job? This is what the question is meant to elicit. Going to grad school does not automatically mean you have to quit your job. Saying you might go back to grad school without linking that somehow to why you want to work at the company you are interviewing with right now gives visibility to the likelihood that you are not looking for a career yet, you are looking for a job while you figure out what you want to do when you grow up.

The above phrasing is deliberately harsh so you can understand how an interviewer might perceive it.

If you tie the interest in more education to a career path that you could potentially follow at the company you are interviewing with, then its a very different take-away. For instance, "By then I want to be considered someone who can potentially run a business, so I might be looking for an MBA in that timeframe". Or whatever - just try to tie it to a goal that includes the employer, if you do mention it. If you really don't think you would come back to this employer afterwards, my advice would be don't mention it.
 
  • #12
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Since the OP is no longer with us, this seems like a good place to end the thread.
 

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