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I'm entering my last semester of my bachelor's, and recently I've been offered several interviews. One of these companies is a really prestigious one, and my application to this company have been rejected multiple times. So it's a really pleasant surprise that they contacted me (I haven't applied again), offering an interview.

Until very recently (before receiving these interviews), my plan was to do my masters directly. However, for this company (and maybe a few others), I'm willing to delay taking my masters for 2-3 years, potentially doing my masters while being employed by the company at the same time (I have a few classes with master students, I know a few that are employed by this same company, so there must be some type of arrangement, but I couldn't find this in the company's website). But for the sake of this question, please ignore the last parentheses, as I don't think such an arrangement is universal.

Question: How to convey to the interviewer that me doing my masters is non-negotiable, but am willing to delay it? I would like to avoid closing doors, and would like to be prepared with an answer.

Extra details that may/may not help:

  • I'm an international student
  • This is in Europe
  • For my master's degree, a lot of universities suggest/require 'minimum work experience, preferably none', 'as little gap in studies as possible', 'max 2 years gap (this one is a hard cap)'
  • The master's being non-negotiable is outside of my control, so it really is non-negotiable
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  • @JoeStrazzere yes! Get some work experience under my belt then do my masters. Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 18:41
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    Why bring it up at all? It sounds like you'd take the job regardless of whether you could do the master's while working, or if you'd have to quit after a couple of years. You want the job, but it's unclear how broaching this topic will help you get it. You're not obligated to stay at a job indefinitely, and leaving a job after a couple of years is reasonably common for a wide variety of reasons, whether they are foreseen or not. Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 19:18
  • @NuclearHoagie nope, that masters is the highest on the list. The reason I'm asking is I'm worried if it comes up as a question. I don't think saying that I have no such plans (even though I definitely) have one is a good idea (??) Or am I just super naive. Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 19:47
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    @AyamGorengPedes, Sorry for being blunt, but you are "naive". If you plan to go to to school in two years (at the latest), it's not in your interest to disclose that now. It would be the same if you were planning to get pregnant. It's just not in your interest to disclose that information. Besides, even if you did plan to work the next 5+ years for that one company, it's your prerogative to change your mind. This is not indentured servitude. This is a job. And do you think the company would tell you if they were planning to fire/outsource your entire department a year from now? Of course not! Commented Jan 25, 2022 at 20:25
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    @JoeStrazzere No one is obligated to tell their possible future employer any plans regarding their future education, nor is this considered screwing somebody over, unless you get trained and leave after 3 months, but OP is talking about 2 years here. Same accounts for planning family-life, having kids, moving etc., etc. Companies look out for their best interests, employees do the same for them - simple as that. Ideally those interests align - if not there are plenty more companies and plenty more employees.
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 13:06

4 Answers 4

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In your current position I wouldn't disclose this information now.

  • Take the job (when offered) in order to get some work-experience.
  • After two years state clearly that you are interested in doing your masters.
  • If they accommodate your plans then all is good.
  • If not you can still leave or take educational leave (if applicable in the country) and maybe work out a plan for returning if you feel like it (though you might look for a different position, pay-grade or even a new gig with your masters under the belt).

There's no benefit to you or obligation disclosing that plan to possible employers now..

"I would like to avoid closing doors, .."

Stating in the interview that you will be doing your masters in two years might close that door before it was open, while working there for two years where you can prove yourself valuable might keep it open for the future..

"and would like to be prepared with an answer."

You could state it vaguely: "I might consider further education in the future.."

From comments:

No one is obligated to tell their possible future employer any plans regarding their future education, nor is this considered screwing somebody over, unless you get trained and leave after 3 months, but OP is talking about 2 years here (and their first job).

Same accounts for planning family-life, having kids, moving, switching jobs etc., etc. Companies look out for their best interests, employees do the same for them - simple as that. Ideally those interests align - if not there are plenty more companies and plenty more employees.

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    I completely agree with this. You do not need to tell anyone you want to start your master in the future. In your own interest, you should say that you do not plan on starting it. You can always say you changed your mind later.
    – JayTheKay
    Commented Jan 26, 2022 at 14:41
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    "Stating in the interview that you will be doing your masters in two years might close that door before it was open, while working there for two years where you can prove yourself valuable might keep it open for the future." Perfectly put.
    – PagMax
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 14:07
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How to convey to the interviewer that me doing my masters is non-negotiable, but am willing to delay it?

The way to convey anything is to state it clearly.

Something like "I'm interested in working here, but I am committed to obtaining my Masters degree. Can we talk about ways to do both?" might work. That would avoid lying, and wouldn't close any doors.

Make sure you are clear about what you want to do regarding your employment and your education.

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I know a few that are employed by this same company, so there must be some type of arrangement, but I couldn't find this in the company's website).

I don't disagree with the answers but I am going to give a slightly different take. Why don't you ask these people? Ask if they led with this in interview or organised it once they were offered a role. Maybe they were already doing their Masters when they got the job.

You've already got a great source for your answer, better than we can hope to give.

"Hi Joe, I know you work for X Corp while doing your masters. I've got an interview with them and wondered how they reacted."

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How to convey to the interviewer that me doing my masters is non-negotiable, but am willing to delay it?

What you need to delay is to convey this to the interviewer. I agree with answer by @iLuvLogix but here are some more things to consider.

  1. Person you are interviewing with may or may not be your manager once you join or after 2 years. May be not even employee of the company. What this person thinks of the situation after 2 years, may be just immaterial. This happened to me a LOT. I never ended up working closely with the interviewer.
  2. While you think it is non-negotiable, I am willing to take a bet that at your age and career stage, everything is negotiable. 2 years down the line, you may decide to do something bigger or something very very different or travel the world. If not anything, you may just love your job so much that you may decide to stay. Career journey's are full of stories which goes something like "I always wanted to do X but destiny had Y in store for me and here I am". But even if none of this happens, advice from iLuvLogix is 100% right.
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  • Valueable and interesting addtitions/thoughts here!
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 15:07

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