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I just graduated this April from undergrad and I'm now applying to graduate programs that start September 2019. I'm taking a gap year between undergrad and grad school for various reasons, mostly to travel.

From the past May to August (right after I graduated), I worked in a research lab in exactly the field I'm applying to for grad school (computer hardware). I got a strong letter of recommendation out of it and it made my CV significantly stronger.

From next January to next September I'm going to be travelling. However, I was a bit short on travel funding so I accepted a software development position at a consulting firm this past September that I'm going to quit in December right before I head out. However, after I accepted the job, I soon found out that they only hired me because for various complicated legal reasons, they don't actually have any work for me. So the past 2.5 months, I've just sat at home doing nothing, it's been a paid vacation. Starting Monday, this company finally wants me to start coming in to do some work - however the work is Front End Web development, it doesn't have much to do with the field I'm applying to (computer architecture/hardware).

When I submit my applications to grad school, I'm debating whether or not I should include this latest job on my CV. I was hoping to get some advice on this. Here are my thoughts:

Advantages

  • I'm taking a gap year, so I'm sure many profs will be concerned about me being away from my field for so long. If my CV says I was working between September to December, it looks I'm only "away" for 8 months instead of 12 (yes, it's a mostly unrelated field, but I'm still working in a computer related field and applying soft engineering skills). It'll make the gap look smaller.

Disadvantages

  • I haven't done anything for the job yet, and I probably won't do too much in the next 1.5 months either. I won't have much to write about other than my title, and maybe a few vague description points.
  • My most recent work experience on my CV will now be this joke of a job instead of my research experience over summer. It'll be the first thing the admission committee/prof sees under work experience on my CV, so I'm concerned it won't have as "strong" of a first impression, despite my summer research being right under.

I was hoping I could get some advice, thanks.

  • 1
    An unrelated job can be "spun" as proof of flexibility, "cross-disciplinary" thinking. A gap can be understood as jail time :) (yes, unlikely, gigantic exaggeration) – Fábio Dias Nov 11 '18 at 17:30
  • "Should I include my latest job on my CV?" – Yes? – Oleg Lobachev Nov 12 '18 at 1:26
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Yes, you ought to include it. In committee we don't like to see gaps in a CV, it suggests that the person might be unemployable. Whereas there is nothing wrong with spending a year in the wrong job. If it comes up during an interview, you can turn it to your advantage: it was by working at that job that you understood that you were really meant for graduate work.

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Yes, anytime you submit your CV as part of an application, it should be current, listing your current position, even if you regard it as only temporary. An exception might be if your current responsibilities involve asking if you want fries with that or giving people rides in your car.

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