At Georgetown, landing a dream internship or job can be as difficult as maintaining a full-time job, and not just because of the competitive interview process.
Faculty attitudes on attendance policy and having to schedule on and off-campus interviews vary. Students often find it difficult to juggle academic commitments, post-Georgetown career goals and having to miss class to accommodate first and second-round interviews for summer internships and jobs.
“The process is stressful and demanding. At one point I missed an entire week of classes for final-round interviews that were all crammed into a few days,” Andrew Brewster (COL ’11) said. “Aside from that, even when you can schedule appointments around classes there is almost no time for homework or writing papers.”
Already under pressure due to the current employment situation, most students will prioritize job interviews ahead of class attendance.
“I always put interview opportunities in front of academic commitments. I will make a reasonable effort to go to class, but getting a job is my number-one priority,” Andrew Provost (MSB ’13) said. “Once you get a job, especially in finance, it doesn’t really matter how well you do in school.”
Sometimes it may not be just the time conflict between the interview and class, but also the taxing nature of the job search process that leads students to miss class.
“I tried to schedule interviews around class, but even so, I mentally have not been in class,” Todd Reese (MSB ’12) said. “I’ve skipped some class after interviews because mentally it is impossible to unwind.”
According to Mike Schaub, executive director of the Career Education Center, the official policy of the center is that students have the flexibility to schedule first-round interviews around their schedule. For second-round interviews, employers must always offer alternate dates if the time originally offered conflicts with another first-round interview or academic commitment.
“In the event of a conflict, our recruiting team advises the student how to approach a recruiter to request an alternative second-round option,” Schaub said. “We also let students know that we are willing to directly approach employers on their behalf when there is a scheduling conflict.”
While Schaub stated that students’ candidacies are not negatively impacted by requests to reschedule a second-round interview, students still feel pressure to always accommodate the potential employers’ requests.
“Given how competitive some of these positions are, and how qualified I know my fellow classmates are, I see it as completely possible on a subconscious or maybe even conscious level that postponing a final round would adversely impact my chances of getting the job,” Lin Chen (SFS ’11) said.
Aside from being a potential inconvenience to firms, rescheduling a second-round interview may also indicate that the student is not serious about the opportunity.
“To me, asking to reschedule isn’t an option, as it shows that you aren’t committed. I missed all my classes last week because of interviews,” Reese said.
Faculty members have varying attendance policies for their courses and also have different perspectives on how to treat absences that result from interviews. Some place the blame on employers.
“I think it is inconsiderate and obnoxious for employers to assign interview times without asking students about their class schedules and for them to assume that students will skip their classes in order to attend an interview,” said Marc Howard, a professor in the government department.
For many professors, the majority of the responsibility to minimize class absences still falls on the students.
“Even those seeking jobs need to remember that they are still students at Georgetown and respect that status as well as their teachers and classmates,” said Rebecca Boylan, a lecturer in the English department.
While Howard generally considers these absences to be unexcused, other faculty members take different approaches.
“The students should not be penalized in any way for missing a class for an interview, unless it is a special class. Professors need to announce special classes that cannot be missed long before the class,” said David Walker, a professor in the McDonough School of Business.
Marius Schwartz, a professor in the economics department, agreed.
“I realize that job interviews are a ‘necessary evil’ so I’m willing to excuse one to two absences, provided the student makes up the work by getting notes from a classmate and seeing me later if there are remaining questions,” Schwartz said.
Some professors may not place as much emphasis on day-to-day attendance as much as general performance in the course.
“My attitude has always been that university students should be able to manage their time themselves and to make choices responsibly. If they feel they need to miss class then I leave that entirely up to them,” said Billy Jack, an associate professor in the economics department.
Upperclassmen have had varying experiences when working with professors during recruiting seasons.
“When necessary, my professors were extremely understanding and accommodating, allowing me to push back work and, in one case, granting me an extension for two weeks on a big paper,” Brewster said. “I got the sense that most professors realized what seniors were going through and were more than happy to work with us.”
According to Reese, one of his professors requested that he receive confirmation from the dean’s office to ensure that he would be in New York for an interview. For another course, his professor set up time to review the material, but still gave him zero credit on the pop quizzes that he missed.
Both students and faculty members say constant communication remains the solution to relieving tension between both parties.
“I am not sure that there is one right answer and compromise is always the best response,” Jeff Oliver, instructor in the Landegger Program in International Business Diplomacy, said.
Brewster said that he understands both sides of the issue and stated that students and professors must come together to form a solution that is acceptable to both.
“Professors are justified in wanting the student to do his utmost to schedule around classes and his academic obligations, the real reason we are here at Georgetown,” Brewster said. “However, sometimes that is simply impossible and professors should be flexible as long as the student has legitimate conflicts, respectfully approaches the professor in advance and makes it clear that he will get the work done in due time.”