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I've worked at the same place for the past two summers doing software development, and very much enjoyed the work and practical experience. I was recently asked if I would consider a 1-2 year contract position. If they would have asked a year ago, I probably would have said yes... but I began graduate school this year. So instead they are offering me a summer position.

I'm waiting to hear back from an internship and my advisor, but neither seemed particularly hopeful last I checked. I am currently doing research part-time in AI, so this job would not really be relevant to that at all. But, it's a job, and I like the place. So my question is, should I accept (conditionally, if the internship does not work out), or continue looking for something more relevant? Is it "okay" to work in an unrelated area your first summer as a graduate student?

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This will obviously vary by country and subject.

I'm not familiar with the idea of graduate students taking summer off from study. That's OK for undergraduates, but not for higher degrees. A multi-year higher degree is a full-on commitment, and doesn't leave time, space or energy for summer jobs.

But I'm going to take a leap here, and read a little more into your question than you've written. Now, this may apply to you, or it may not. It will apply to someone in the future who reads this question and might have asked the same thing themselves. It sounds like you're questioning whether you should be continuing this further degree, or getting out there into the workforce.

So, it's time for you to review, with your advisory / supervisory team, and with your trusted friends / family, whether to continue the degree, or to join this company as a full-time employee.

Only you know what your reasons were for starting a higher degree.

But if it was to help you land the sort of job you're now being offered, then perhaps it's already served its purpose - in which case, you're done with it.

If it was for much longer-term reasons, if it has to be done now rather than later in life, if it's the love of pure research, if you're considering a career in academia rather than industry - then your research degree is much bigger and more important than this job offer.

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It is somewhat standard (here, in the US at least), for first and second-year students to take internships for the summers, because they're still doing classes and not full-time research. So that in itself is not unusual (in fact, my adviser has pointed me to apply to several already, because he may not have summer funding). –  eam74 Feb 5 '13 at 9:01
    
(cont.. oops) I do want to continue the degree, which is why I didn't just accept the job.. I'm just wondering if it is a good idea to take this for the summer or decline and keep looking for something more relevant. There's also some personal reasons involved too for being there over the summer which may be clouding my judgment a bit. so, thanks for the reply :) –  eam74 Feb 5 '13 at 9:11
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