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I am currently in a predicament with two companies, A and B. Both are in the US.

When I was originally offered a position with A, it was originally for a summer institute. I was under the impression the position would only be for the summer even though my start date and projects were changed later on. I made the mistake of not reading my job offer carefully and have recently found out that the position at company A is for an entire year period. The position for company A is also described as "casual employment".

This wouldn't be an issue except that I also signed for company B to start in September for a full-time position because I thought the company A position was a summer position. Both of the contracts were signed months ago with the position at company A offered verbally before company B, but the contract for company B signed before the contract for company A. This means my contract period for company A overlaps the period that I am supposed to be working for company B.

I'm not sure how to approach this situation since the people at company A are currently expecting that I stay for the year. I've also been considering staying for the year, but then that means going back on the contract with company B. Although both are at-will contracts, I'd like to fix this without burning any bridges if possible. Does anyone have any advice?

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    "I've also been considering staying for the year, but then that means going back on the contract with company B" - decide what you want to do first. – Brandin Jun 26 '17 at 5:16
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    "Although both are at-will contracts" then what are you asking? Are you asking "how do I tell a company I am leaving?" The answer is just politely. – Fattie Jun 26 '17 at 10:05
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First things first, go over both contracts with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you fully understand everything that's written in each. You may want to consider consulting a lawyer to make sure you understand the potential penalties you face for breaking either contract. Once you know the risks and rewards of each contract, you need to pick which one you want to stick with.

Next, you need to approach one or both companies to explain the mistake you've made and ask what can be done to resolve it. You may be able to get away with only telling the company you've chosen to leave, allowing the company you want to stay with to remain blissfully ignorant - however - that tactic could backfire in a big way if the other company somehow hears about this through the grapevine, so consider carefully. You may also want to discuss this with the aforementioned lawyer to see if he has any advice.

Whatever you do, you need to be crystal clear about which company you want to work for, because odds are neither of them will be particularly happy to hear about this. Waffling back and forth will NOT end well, so don't even try it. You also want to be clear and honest about the fact that this was a mistake and you're trying to correct it as swiftly and cleanly as possible.

I don't think there's a way out without burning at least one bridge. That's an unfortunate reality of the situation. All you can do is be upfront and honest, and own your mistake. Also, keep in touch with that lawyer - you might need him.

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