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To preface my situation:

I'm currently working as a co-op student, and still have some courses to take afterwards. I attended a local job fair to see what kind of smaller companies/startups are in my area. My intentions were to see what kinds of skills were in demand as well as look for a company that sparked my interest.

I received a message from one of the companies at the fair, telling me that they want to talk to me about potential employment.

Now for my question:

As a student with more than a year left before grad, what would be the most professional way to proceed?

My first thoughts are to give them a call back and let them know my situation (school, co-op, time left before graduation), and that I am thankful for their interest in me.

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    I don't understand why you went to a job fair AND gave away your resume if you aren't looking for a job – Maria Ines Parnisari Sep 24 '15 at 17:30
  • @l19 I apologize if I come off as uninterested in the offer. I am trying to avoid the same misunderstanding with the potential employer, while adequately explaining my situation. – gom Sep 24 '15 at 17:38
  • Was this a job fair at your school? – Monica Cellio Sep 24 '15 at 17:53
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    If you want a honest answer, I think that recruiter talked to everyone who gave him/her a resume. – Dan Sep 24 '15 at 19:40
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    Why doesn't your resume mention that you're in school and your expected graduation date? That's pretty crucial information. – Chris Hayes Sep 25 '15 at 4:26
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As a student with more than a year left before grad, what would be the most professional way to proceed?

My first thoughts are to give them a call back and let them know my situation (school, co-op, time left before graduation), and that I am thankful for their interest in me.

Your thoughts are correct, but don't go far enough.

You should indeed call them back, let them know your current situation, but tell them that you would still be thrilled to talk with them about potential employment (assuming you really are interested).

You then ask them when would be a good time to chat.

They might have you come in to talk now anyway, or might just say something on the order of "look us up when you graduate".

Some potential employers are happy to talk with promising students about the future - even if it's a year or so out. They would likely talk only in general terms, and not promise you a position. But that's okay - you now have a terrific opportunity for when you are ready, and you learn a little bit of the possibilities for that time.

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The simplest option is to be open and honest. Let them know your situation at present, and the options that you are interested in. These may include:

  • Giving up your course in order to get into business now
  • Proposing part time / sandwich work (if they and your faculty allow) to let you study and work
  • Accepting a summer internship
  • Asking for any offer to be postponed until you complete your course

Obviously all these have pros and cons, but if you don't let a prospective employer know your situation, they will find it very difficult to accommodate you.

Contact them, be polite, have a discussion.

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