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My degree is supposed to be completed in 3 years. For a few semesters, I took one subject less than normal which extended my degree by one semester. Last semester, I failed a subject, which extended my degree by another semester.

I have now been offered an internship opportunity (awaiting a written offer), in which I'm required to relocate for the course of the internship. This means that I'll need to take leave on my course, which will extend my course another semester. This means that I'll complete my course 1.5 years later than everyone else.

My question is, does this look bad on my resume? I'm wondering if potential employers would discount me based on taking such a long time to complete the degree. Will this happen and if so, how could I stop it from happening? Should I include the leave on my resume?

  • Who's actually going to KNOW the intended length of your degree program, unless you volunteer that information? I can't see any employer digging through a college website to find out how long the degree programs run -- that's why there are accrediting bodies, so employers don't have to do that. – Xavier J Feb 21 '17 at 18:37
  • No, it won't matter especially after you get your first job. In some countries a degree is 4 years as is the case in Scotland. – bobo2000 Feb 22 '17 at 12:21
  • I took 6 years for a 4 year. No one has ever commented on it. – atxgis Apr 25 '18 at 21:28
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I have a similar case where I took 5 years for a 4 year degree. None of the companies have denied me or had their decisions be influenced by this. However they still asked me why I took longer than the expected time. In my case I had a switch between degree choices and failed a single class leading me to have a delay of 1 year in total.

Companies mainly ask where the gap is in case you were having somewhat of an abnormal reason. Such as high stress leading you to quit school for a year. Or simply going on a world trip in the middle of school. These could be red flags for companies as you might not be able to handle the position or be able to commit to the company.

However, having failed a single class should not have that large of an effect unless the market for computer science is oversaturated and they only want straight A students. Which I highly doubt.

As to the key of your question.

Should I include the leave on my resume?

NO. Your resume is made to sell yourself. Not give them reasons to pass up on you. If they believe it's important, then they will ask you during the interview. And they usually will only ask to satiate their curiosity.

On a side note. your internships are working experience, so ALWAYS add that to your resume. It should help the interviewer understand why it took you longer too.

example:

Degree - 2014 - 2018

bla bla bla, other interesting stuff on resume

Working experience :

Internship jan-2017 ~ Jun-2017 [company name]

During my internship I used X,Y,Z technologies and I applied them by using the "A" Method, bla bla bla.

There is no mention of the leave anywhere But it's still fairly obvious you had an internship during your studies. Which may have increased time.

  • Minor edit you might want to do, they did mention their leave was due to an internship. So stating that they shouldn't include it but should also include internship experiences is a bit contradictory. See this bit, "I have now been offered an internship opportunity (awaiting a written offer), in which I'm required to relocate for the course of the internship. This means that I'll need to take leave on my course, which will extend my course another semester." – Draken Feb 21 '17 at 8:14
  • @Draken I stand by what I said. Here's why. When you note your working experiences, you do NOT note your circomstances. you only show what tech you've used and what you've basically been doing. Plus a starting and ending date. it's fairly unrelated towards the rest of the resume. However, any smart interviewer will know what the start date and end date could imply. and they can ask for it during the interview – Migz Feb 21 '17 at 8:48
  • So, should they include the internship or not? The leave is for the internship, they specifically said that. You are stating they should not include the leave on the resume but they should add the internship? I'm not sure how the logistics of that could work? – Draken Feb 21 '17 at 8:54
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    @Draken I added an example in my awnser. It should explain what I meant. – Migz Feb 21 '17 at 9:13
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    Early in my career I took 2.5 years for a master's degree program that could be done full time in one year. I used this approach. Nobody actually questioned me about the degree time, so it must have been clear enough. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 21 '17 at 10:50
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Lately is has become more common to omit the start date, and sometimes even the end date of a degree on one's resume.

One reason is that not everyone takes the recommended full course load every semester when getting their degree. I certainly didn't, and when I did include both the start and end dates on my Bachelor's, I was never questioned about why it took so long to complete the degree.

  • Checks out. 7 of 10 resumes sitting out on my desk have no start date for education. And one of the 3 that does have dates has the start and end date for their single 3-month long Dev Bootcamp. – Chris G Feb 21 '17 at 20:33
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Speaking as someone who works in software development, took 11(!) years to get his degree, and even at that doesn't even have a degree in a relevant field (I mean, I can create an interesting narrative for how a creative writing degree applies to coding but it would be complete BS), let me say this: once you get your first job and even a little bit of relevant experience, nobody cares about your degree, period.

As to where you are right now, if you're in the US then you're still very much in luck because there are way more jobs out there than there are qualified programmers. Okay, so maybe with the time it took or your grades (no idea what they are like but just throwing that out there) you won't get straight into Google or Microsoft, but there are plenty of smaller companies that need people willing to learn their business rules and able to create programs for them, and for that matter there are scads of contractors and recruiting companies out there to connect you to those places.

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    +1, but HR Wanks will always want to filter by degrees. They look for litmus tests that can filter applicants. Think like the military: "This troop transport is invulnerable to all known enemy weapons, and it can fly!" "Does it have a 10.5 inch clutch plate? No? I'm sorry, it doesn't meet the specifications." – Wesley Long Feb 21 '17 at 18:32
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    When you're just plain straight out of college, yes, but even then I just don't think they get enough qualified candidates for the most part to dump people because they don't like the amount of time they spent getting their degree in CS. At that level some might drop people who went to a bootcamp instead of getting a degree, sure. – NotVonKaiser Feb 21 '17 at 19:11
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There are a lot of things that can look bad on a resume if they're not framed positively. Even a firing can be turned around into a positive.

Any kind of employment anomaly is going to stick out, and let's be honest, we all have them. "Why did you change career paths?" "Why do you have an 18 month employment gap?" "Why did you pursue a Ph.D in Basket Weaving, but not a career afterwards?"

A resume is rarely going to tell any given applicant's full story, so leave just enough breadcrumbs to get them interested, and then deliver a real stunner of an answer to their question.

"Was this a 5 year program?"

An example answer:

I had the opportunity to relocate for an internship offer that I felt would help expose me to new technologies and methodologies. I always look for opportunities to expose myself to new ways of thinking and new strategies. I feel like it brings out the best in myself and my work when I'm challenged with the unfamiliar.

Then follow up with some things that you learned, and tie it into how it caused your graduation to be delayed. Don't mention failed courses.

A hiring manager is unlikely to discount you based on time spent in study, but it will almost certainly prompt a question. Be ready with a strong answer that addresses their question, but also presents your skills in the brightest possible light.

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It is certainly possible that there are employers (hiring managers or HR) out there who care how long it took a person to complete their degree. I would avoid such employers like the plague as their criteria for hiring competent staff is unrelated to any performance/competence required to do the job.

I can only speak for myself, and I have had absolutely ZERO problems getting a job that were related to the length of time it took to get my degree. I've worked both in Academia and Industry and it never came up, ever. Those who cared about my degree just wanted to know I had it.

How long did it take for me to finish? 20 years. You read that correctly.

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