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I'm currently a university student in my 3rd year of a 4 year degree. Last summer, the University offered paid work placements and I found myself working for a local software company for a small salary (it worked out at about minimum wage, perhaps a little under).

The placement went very well and at the end of the placement, the boss of the company expressed interest in having me back at some point for things such as holiday work.

Right now I'm trying to organise my life over next summer, for which I will need some income. I'd very much like to return to the company - but would it seem rude if I emailed the boss of the company requesting more work from him with a similar timeframe/pay to the university-organised placement? How might I go about sorting this out soon so I can have an answer either way and look for more work if necessary?

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but would it seem rude if I emailed the boss of the company requesting more work from him with a similar timeframe/pay to the university-organised placement?

No, it wouldn't be rude at all. This person expressed an interest in having you back. The one thing I would say is not to mention pay at this time and have them make an offer - you might be surprised and they offer more than what you got during the university placement (I would argue that it should be, now that you have proven yourself and they know your worth).

How might I go about sorting this out soon so I can have an answer either way and look for more work if necessary?

Call this person or email them - mention the conversation where they shown an interest in having you back and that you would be interested. Ask if they are still interested and if so, what would be the next steps.

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Nope, mail the boss. You may also want to write the university placement office and see if the placement is available for the future year, as well, since the situation seemed to work out well that way, and it may assist in your academics to have the work tied to your student files... But if the company liked you and made a tentative suggestion of future work there is absolutely no harm in writing a "When we last talked, you mentioned the possibility of future work with your company, and I'm very interested if you have an opening this summer". You can even say with all honesty that they are your first pick and you'd appreciate fast feedback, since you will have to look for other work, regardless, and you would prefer to work for them.

If you had a Human Resources contact at the business, I'd CC that person, as well. Often a manager can't hire directly, they'll need the help of HR, so getting that person in the loop quickly is a good idea. Also, if your former boss has no openings but another group does, the HR person may be a better point of contact than your former manager.

Just keep it short and sweet and avoid making any promises (for example "I'll wait to hear from you before looking elsewhere"). Everyone likes to hear that they are a great place to work, and that you're eager to do more work. There's no rudeness there.

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Well... it's a bit anal, but I was anal enough to fix it, so that makes two of us. :) –  bethlakshmi Nov 7 '12 at 16:44
    
Great answer. +1 –  Andrew Thompson Nov 7 '12 at 21:37
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