I'm a dropout baby, so why don't you kill me?
January 6, 2012 11:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm a graduate school dropout after a single semester. What is the best way to phrase this on my resume now that I am back on the job market?

I am quitting my European MSc program after a single semester because (a) the courses were not particularly challenging, as in I am pretty sure they actually passed people with mental retardation and (b) the money my fiance was offered to move out there is not enough to keep up our current lifestyle – and I only have negative associations with the country since I lived there without him for almost half a year and was rather miserable.

I did very well in my classes and if it weren't for me hating living there and the huge salary cut, fiance would have most likely moved out to be with me and I would have graduated in 2013. The reason I chose the program was because we both wanted to live in Europe for a while and I get free tuition there as a dual citizen.

I'm two and a half years out of college (biochemistry), had a great biomedical research job after graduating up until July 2011 when I quit to take some extra classes (not required – I'm considering applying to medical school, but now we're thinking of moving to a different European country for a year or two so that's postponed) and then go to grad school.

What is the best way to explain the employment gap (since July) on my resume? I'm ecstatic to be back home but I need to go collect my possessions in Stockholm and I want to go visit my family (in a different European country) for a couple of weeks, so I probably won't apply for jobs until next month.
posted by halogen to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It never happened. You went travelling.
posted by pompomtom at 11:09 PM on January 6, 2012

Under the education section, put something like "Graduate coursework in such-and-such, Fall 2010."
posted by bluedaisy at 11:10 PM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

pompomtom, the classes were actually quite good and demanding for those who did the required work – I feel that I learned a lot that will benefit my future research career. It's just that, well, in Sweden everyone passes. I do not want to hide the fact that I have intercultural and graduate coursework experience, even if it only lasted a few months.
posted by halogen at 11:19 PM on January 6, 2012

Yeah..... I dropped out of grad school, too, and for a while had it on my CV because of a combination of wanting to be totally honest, and--if I'm going to be totally honest here--wanting some kind of credit for having gotten in and finishing all the course work.

After a few interviews, I took it off because I realized it didn't add anything that made me more employable. And it sort of called attention to the fact that I dropped out. And I even had a reasonably good excuse: I got a fantastic job opportunity I didn't want to pass up.

Especially if everyone in Sweden passes, I wouldn't flaunt it. Also, a six month employment gap is easily glossed over by putting just the years of work, rather than the month and year. Saying you worked at Biomed Research, Inc. from 2009-2011 is accurate and shouldn't raise a single eyebrow.
posted by looli at 12:48 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think looli's advice is good. It sounds like in Sweden, not having completed the course will really make you stand out (and not in a good way), and unless the coursework is directly relevant to the job for which you're applying, I wouldn't list it. If it is relevant, then I would list it as bluedaisy suggests.
posted by FaustianSlip at 3:13 AM on January 7, 2012

You aren't applying for work in Sweden, so what people here think of it means nothing. Ftr, having a term of this or that is utterly normal here since doing a little college here and there costs nothing. I don't know where FaustianSlip is getting that from. Sounds like you are applying in the US job market? So it's whatever applies there.

Frame it that you lived in Sweden for six months, and took the chance to study a term while you were here. The whole how and why of your not living here anymore is irrelevant to an employer and you totally shouldn't go into that with an employer.
posted by Iteki at 4:13 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]

I like Iteki's advice the best; it shows the employer that you're curious and worldly.
posted by syed at 4:22 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

you could say you always wanted to study abroad (assuming that's true anyhow) and you decided to study there for a semester to gain other experience. (a combination of several suggestions above)
posted by saraindc at 5:33 AM on January 7, 2012

Put it on your resume as "graduate coursework" but expect to be asked about it - whether it's relevant or not, many employers will be curious about it - and prepare less snow-flakey answers than you've listed above. "Not a good fit" or "decided I wanted to re-enter the workforce" followed by "and here's the skills I developed/honed" is fine.

I thought the OP was applying for jobs in a different European country, actually, but I don't think it really matters. I come across international job candidates with only partially completed degree programs often enough that I assume that the challenge is not in having terminated the program, but in how it's framed to interviewers.
posted by sm1tten at 8:07 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Graduate coursework in x, y, z" or study abroad experience...you don't have to say you're a drop-out. Either way list something because studying abroad and getting education sounds much better than sitting around and watching tv for 6 months, and it's not a lie - employers can see when people try to gloss over gaps in employment.
posted by fromageball at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2012

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