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I am currently working at a paid internship prior to my final year in college. My university is holding a career fair soon, but it's in the middle of the work day and work week. Even if I am interested in working for this company after graduation, I'd still like to have as many options as possible.

Should I tell my employer I would like to take time off for a career fair, or should I keep my reasons secret and just take a sick day? Both options would be unpaid.

My initial reasoning for telling them outright is that it's likely there will be company representatives at this career fair who, though it is unlikely, may recognize me.

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Should I tell my employer I would like to take time off for a career fair, or should I keep my reasons secret and just take a sick day?

Having been through this back when I was in college, you should tell your employer that you need to time off on the day of the career fair. You don't have to out-right tell them that it's for a career fair, but if they ask, then be honest. Keep in mind that you obviously won't be paid for the time you take off.

You're currently doing an internship - everyone knows that you are looking for a job after graduation and that the internship isn't forever. As a result, they essentially expect you to be proactive in looking for a job for after graduation. Who knows, maybe this will be a wake-up call for them that they might soon lose you and get them to work on hiring you full-time after graduation.

  • Paying depends on individual contract and jurisdiction. – Simon Sep 6 '17 at 5:58
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I don't see any reason NOT to tell them why you need time off. I will be in the same situation next month and unless I said something would probably be asked to stand at the booth. I plan to say something along the lines of "I know (company name) will be at the career fair at school, may I have time off to attend it myself?"

They'll say yes, because its school and there is even a chance it will trigger a conversation about plans after graduation/intentions with the company :)

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In an internship, your employer should already assume that you're going to be doing things aimed toward finding a job when you graduate. While you don't necessarily have to tell them that you're taking the time for a career fair, it they ask you directly it shouldn't be a big deal.

Just tell your employer that you need to take a few hours (or a morning/afternoon, or the day) off to take care of some personal business. If they press for detail (which they should not), just maintain that it's personal business and not something that needs to be discussed in the office.

Don't take a fake sick day unless it's a last resort. Do you have any paid time off with this internship? You can use that for this.

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You absolutely should be confident in asking for time off, as others have stated. There's two scenarios: they want you full time and your attending the career fair will prompt them to lock you down, or, they do not need you after the internship and the career fair is in your best interest.

A good manager won't feel slighted by you acting in your best interest, assuming you don't have an offer from this company yet. In the bizarre world where the hiring manager decides you attending the fair reverses their decision to hire you, you wouldn't want to work for them anyway. Be confident here, and be respectful (as in all things).

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