13

I've been in company X for almost two and a half years now doing an IT apprenticeship in Germany.

A few months ago I was visiting the jobs website of company Y and uploaded my resume for multiple positions I was interested in, but I never got a reply so I continued everything as usual.

I am in my third and last year of my apprenticeship now and got an e-mail yesterday from company Y that they would like to schedule a phone interview for one of the positions I was interested in.

In my excitement, I went a little too fast and sent them possible dates and times when I am available for a phone interview as requested, but didn't think of my current situation:

  • Company Y doesn't know that my current position is an apprenticeship since I've put it in "work history" from 201X until now in my resume.
  • If I want to accept the new position I would have to quit my current job and therefore cancel my apprenticeship in which the finals start in four months and would leave me without any sort of diploma that I finished my apprenticeship.
  • I do not know if it is possible to finish the apprenticeship at company Y.
  • The position at company Y is probably critical to fill.

Should I tell them on the phone interview about my apprenticeship? Is it acceptable to ask if it was possible to take the position after my apprenticeship has ended or if it is possible to continue my apprenticeship at company Y?

Is it unethical to my current employer to leave right now?

What is an acceptable manner to approach this?

  • 45
    You've spent 2 years and 8 months in an apprenticeship (presumably at a lesser grade of pay to accommodate for the fact you will be in training often and your education needs perhaps some level of input from the company), and you are thinking of leaving 4 months before you would receive your diploma? Nuts. This better be one hell of an amazing job offer to even be worth considering. Jobs come and go, and you will have plenty of job offers in the future, but to re-gain your diploma you will have to possibly re-take year(s) worth of courses. Don't do it. Finish your education. – Trotski94 Oct 13 '16 at 11:04
  • @JamesTrotter It is not so black-and-white. I have basically dropped out of PhD after 5 years to go into a commercial sector. Great decision. If one feels that diploma is not on critical career path it is worth of considering. There are fields where skill is more important than titles. Still, I would advise to keep the options open and not throw away it easily. From what is written it's not yet mutually exclusive. – luk32 Oct 13 '16 at 13:53
  • 1
    @luk32 I agree with the sentiment, but having a solid date of 4 months left is what makes my opinion on this so strong. 4 months in the grand scheme of things (especially when OP has already stuck out 2 years 8 months, at presumably a lesser grade of pay in return for getting educated) is nothing, and he should see it out from the end if not from a blatantly financial perspective. He's already invested in this diploma wether he realises or not, to then throw that time away with nothing to show for it because of a humble job offer seems reckless – Trotski94 Oct 13 '16 at 14:06
  • What you also need to consider is if you know how much you are valued at your current employer. If they plan on keeping you, they will probably make an offer shortly before your final exams. But keep in mind that it' hard to rise in the company that trained you (unless it's a huge corporation). They will probably see you as just the Azubi in terms of remuneration, even after a few years of growing. Usually, freshly finished Azubis start with a lowish salary because it's the first year of working. But other companies don't see it like that. tldr: Switch to get more money. – simbabque Oct 13 '16 at 15:49
  • 3
    Four months is only slightly longer than usual where I'm from. Multiple rounds of interviews take around 3 weeks, the company takes another 2-3 weeks to give you the results, negotiations take around 1 week and we usually have a notice period of 8-10 weeks. Of course these numbers will vary depending on the field and location. My point is that you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to at least interview at the new company because of the four month gap between now and when you can start working for them. – rohithpr Oct 13 '16 at 16:32
30

An interview is in my opinion an expression by both parties of mutual interest in working together. If your situation is such that you cannot leave your job now then explain that in the interview.

As you are essentially finishing your studies with your apprenticeship, there is nothing wrong with having exploratory interviews to practice those soft skills but also to experience the different attitudes and possible work environments available to you.

Also, if you are clear that you would prefer to wait until you are finished with your apprenticeship before accepting any offers, the company will appreciate your honesty.

Should I tell them on the phone interview about my apprenticeship?

Yes - being as honest as possible in an interview avoids issues and misunderstandings later.

Is it acceptable to ask if it was possible to take the position after my apprenticeship has ended or if it is possible to continue my apprenticeship at company Y?

Yes, it is always possible to ask - if you impress them, they may keep you as a backup candidate in case the position is critical but decide they would have you over someone else and wait a few months for you.

Is it unethical to my current employer to leave right now?

I don't see an issue with ethics here - if there is some contractual obligation to work for them after the apprenticeship, then maybe but even then there would normally be a "buyout" clause. The only harm I see here is your not receiving your diploma, which is why I would say stick with company X until you are finished.

What is an acceptable manner to approach this?

As I have discussed - just because you are looking, does not mean you have to accept but it's best to be upfront about what your goals are and ask about what their requirements are.

  • You don't see an issue with leaving an apprenticeship in Germany after 2.5 years to go to another company? After the first company has invested that much money and time into you? – nvoigt Oct 13 '16 at 7:44
  • 5
    @toadflakz I guess you are not from Germany. Any apprenticeship is a contract. A very special protected contract that has higher standards than normal working contracts. – nvoigt Oct 13 '16 at 7:50
  • 5
    By contract, I am able to leave with a 30-days notice. – John Dread Oct 13 '16 at 7:53
  • 2
    I don't know their apprenticeship systems. In Germany, an apprenticeship is a very regulated and protected thing. "Cheap labor" does not really apply for example. Letting my apprentice do something the regular developers don't do, would be a breach of the contract for example. – nvoigt Oct 13 '16 at 7:57
  • 14
    Consider the applicable laws in Germany, specifically Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) § 22 - Kündigung. You can quit your apprenticeship within four weeks, but only if you do not want to continue your apprenticeship in that profession. If you want to continue the apprenticeship at a new employer, you need a reason (such as when your old employer not training you properly), or you need to negotiate it with your old employer. Anyway, best contact someone with legal knowledge, maybe a trade union ("Gewerkschaft"). – sleske Oct 13 '16 at 9:17
21

Company Y doesn't know that my current position is an apprenticeship since I've put it in "work history" from 201X until now in my resume.

Well, then you lied to them. Work history is supposed to be starting after your education, and "Ausbildung" is your education. They will probably see you in a very different light when you tell them your "work history" is actually the first two years of an apprenticeship.

If I want to accept the new position I would have to quit my current job and therefore cancel my apprenticeship in which the finals start in four months and would leave me without any sort of diploma that I finished my apprenticeship.

That's correct. And let me add this personal opinion: cancelling your education just four months before you can finish it and start your life without any "Berufsabschluss" (certification/diploma) is extremely stupid. You will need a "Berufsabschluss" for your next 70 years. Not finishing your education is going to harm you for the rest of your life. If you don't plan on dying early in 2017 or winning a few million the lottery, this is stupid, stupid, stupid.

I do not know if it is possible to finish the apprenticeship at company Y.

It is, but you need a lot of work from both your old and new company and both will not want to invest this amount of work in you, especially not the company you intend to leave.

Should I tell them on the phone interview about my apprenticeship?

Yes. By all means yes. Lying on an interview is a bad decision. If you lied on your interview, the company can fire you on the spot at any time they see fit. So if you lie and you start to work there and they want to get rid of you after 4 years, they can just say "you lied all that time ago on your interview, you are fired, bye bye, no severance package". And since you were fired for cause, you would not even get unemployment benefits. Do not lie on the interview. Ever.

Is it unethical to my current employer to leave right now?

Yes. Because your apprenticeship is a deal between you and your employer. Your employer is paying you. Not a full paycheck, but maybe a third of what you would earn if you had finished your education. That is because he has to spent time and effort to educate you for three years and you are barely productive in at least the first year. In the third year you are supposed to be as productive as a new junior role. So while your employers pays you, you deliver no value but only costs in the first year, maybe break even in the second and due to your low income actually deliver value on the third year. So overall, losing money in the first year, breaking even and then making money in the third year, your employer is supposed to do ok.

Now if you take the education, where your employer even pays you to get educated and then when it's payback time you just vanish and say bye bye, that's unethical. You have a contract signed for three years. Breaking that contract is unethical.

What is an acceptable manner to approach this?

Don't. Just don't. You are ruining your future. You are dropping your education, you are not getting a good reference from the only person you have ever worked for and for what? 4 months of a higher paycheck?

Finish your education. It's perfectly fine to look for other jobs afterwards. Compare your current employers offer to other offers. And you can certainly start looking now and if you find something, take an offer with a starting date after your education's end. But only after you have finished your education and after you have fulfilled your contract should you switch your job. Anything else is career suicide.

  • 9
    Good answer, one thing I am not clear on from the answer. Can he not just attend the interview and explain that his earliest start date would be when he completes his education? A lot of people finishing a degree start to apply in anticipation of completing their studies. If company Y really like him they might wait till he finished and he could just leave his current company on completion of his apprenticeship without ill feeling. If company Y felt he'd mislead them the only negative for him would be to burn the bridge with them surely? – Dustybin80 Oct 13 '16 at 8:00
  • 3
    @Dustybin80 Absolutely. That would be a good move. Looking for a job well in advance telling them that he needs to finish his education would be what I would expect as normal. – nvoigt Oct 13 '16 at 8:02
  • OK!, +1 as I think your answer is the best and addresses the question from the local perspective The concept of an 'apprenticeship' can be more or less formal or different countries and ending one can have a different impact. – Dustybin80 Oct 13 '16 at 8:12
  • 1
    @Dustybin80 Yes, but the OP should tell them right now. Really, this information should have been on the OP's original job application. If they only invited him/her to an interview because they thought he was not an apprentice, there is no sense in wasting everybody's time with an interview. If the OP leaves it till later, the company might take the view that if there was one "problem" with the application they may be more than one, and reject the OP simply for not being honest with them. – alephzero Oct 13 '16 at 17:03
3

You have two solutions here, but whatever you do don't stop your apprenticeship right now ! Your studies are more important than the job. Of course it makes anyone happy to have a positive feedback from an application but there is no reason for you to stop your studies here.

Solution 1 - Take the intervew and tell them you are in an apprenticeship. I had the same problem as you, when you write work experience in my country you don't write "intern" position but "assistant" position, so there is sometimes a confusion but I don't think it would be that important in your case.

  • They don't hire you because you might not have the profile they require (because of the apprenticeship), but it trains you for interviews which will always be good for your future. When I apply for jobs, I am used to applying for a lot of them. Sometimes when they give me an answer, I am no longer interested but I still make the interview because it trains me and sometimes makes me change my mind about the position.

  • They hire you and you can finish your apprenticeship there OR they hire you once your apprenticeship is done. Actually 4 months is not that long, they could wait until you have finished or get back to you once you have passed your finals for another interview. The problem here is that you have been working with company X for almost two years. They have paid for your apprenticeship, they know you, they might hire you after you are done (Who knows). Leaving them before your apprenticeship ends might leave you in a bad situation towards company X.

Solution 2 - Cancel the interview and keep working at company X until you graduate

  • Since you don't feel very comfortable about the fact company Y doesn't know you are currently in an apprenticeship program, you might want to postpone the interview to four month later. You can just get in touch with them, tell them about your situation and explain that you are currently finishing your studies, that you don't want to damage your relashionship with company X and that if you would ever be hired by company Y you would honor your engagement in the same way. This is a win win situation.

The choice is yours.

  • "They hire you and you can finish your apprenticeship there" - comments above have clarified that is unlikely to be possible for the OP unless there are good reasons to move company, or his current company cooperates (which they have no particular reason to do). – Martin Bonner Oct 13 '16 at 13:39
  • Well it is not impossible to change the company in which you are doing your apprenticeship. If the company, the student and the school all agree on it there is no problem – MopMop Oct 13 '16 at 14:11
3

I'm doing an apprenticeship in germany myself at the moment (also IT) and my advice is:

Don't.

Find a way to cancel the interview, and try to be more truthful on your resume after you graduate. Its not worth it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.