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I have a simple question to which I was unable to find a simple answer. I was hired by a university as a "representative of industry" to deliver some courses. In my groups I have several promising students to whom I would like to offer a job after the course ends.

I think this would be OK from students' point of view (the job comes to them, instead of requiring them to spend time in job fairs etc). I think this would also be great from a company's point of view (they can get a student whose abilities and skills they can be reasonably confident in). However, this looks almost too good to be true and I have a feeling that there's some conflict of interest here.

Is such an arrangement common (i.e., hiring your students) or is it inappropriate and I should avoid it?

Edit to provide more details: the students are about half-way through their degree and the summer break is slowly appearing on the horizon, so the job would be a limited-term apprenticeship while they do not have any university obligations. The country in question is Poland.

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  • Are the studemts about to graduate? Or is it a part-time job similar to what many students would have during school anyway? – Owen Reynolds Apr 20 at 13:03
  • You didn't indicate the country, but in the US you should be aware of the rules pertaining to "government owned entities", where offering a job to a relative of someone your company has [an unrelated] business with could land the company, and you, in hot water. – mustaccio Apr 21 at 1:04
  • If this happened in the US when I was a student, I would be all over it. Got a summer internship that turned into 7 years of full time employment in a similar, though not quite as direct a manner. – Mad Physicist Apr 22 at 21:11
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I agree completely with the others that you should check with your university and your company. Their opinions are the ones that matter. Still, it is quite possible that your institutions will not provide guidance in either direction, so I will not end the answer there.

The only conflict of interest I can see is if you are grading (or otherwise holding authority over) students while simultaneously encouraging them to apply for a job. In this case, students could feel coerced into applying for or accepting a job (or could construe this as a reason if they don't like their grade, etc.). The simplest solution would be to wait until the course ends (and some would say this is your only ethical option). But given that a successful hire is a huge win for all involved, and that hiring is often time-sensitive, you could consider other mitigations, such as having someone else from your company handle the recruitment process, and making it clear to the student that you will intentionally be kept "out of the loop" until the course ends. And of course, be transparent about what you are doing by proactively informing your department chair of your plans (preferably in writing).

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    "wait until the course ends" More precisely, wait until grades are submitted. – Anonymous Physicist Apr 20 at 2:11
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    Or maybe you should wait until their graduation. You (or the university) may not want students to drop before completing their full education programme for a tempting job offer that appears to be "supported" by the university because a "teacher" made the offer. – Louic Apr 20 at 7:13
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    @Louic at that point, a promising student is liable to already have a job. – Tim Apr 20 at 12:05
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    @Tim That strongly depends on the field and the country. But it mostly depends on what the university OP works for wants, as my own answer states. – Louic Apr 20 at 12:19
  • @Tim You can extend job offers -- even binding and in writing -- that are dependent on them getting their degree. So if they are promising and you don't want them to get poached, give them an offer that is only valid once they get their degree. And maybe put a time limit on it. Its the best of both worlds, you get a promising employee, encourage them to graduate quickly and they don't get poached. You could even employ them part-time during their studies and offer a full-time position upon graduation, and make that offer in writing long beforehand. its actually quite common where I come from. – Polygnome Apr 21 at 7:10
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You should talk to the university. What they think about it is more important than what "random" people on the internet think.

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    +1 . Also, some countries and companies have hiring requirements where jobs need to be posted to the public. – Richard Erickson Apr 19 at 16:53
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    I really dislike these kind of answers. Yes, it's technically correct, but offers absolutely zero insight into the question. The answer from cag51 is far more informative – Phill Apr 20 at 0:38
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    To break down the abstract concept of the "university" to talk to: a) your department chair and/or who formally invited you b) your departments or universities ethics commission. At least for the latter, it is exactly their job to answer these questions, and they will be glad to help since you asked before you did anything :) – Hobbamok Apr 20 at 9:42
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    @Louic I totally agree with you on that point, but you could choose any random question on this site and chances are good that "talk to the university" would answer it. That would make for a pretty boring website, not to mention that its brevity is edging into sounding dismissive - two things that work against building a strong community. A discussion about the kind of thought processes the university would have can much better prepare someone when they do go to talk to them. – Phill Apr 22 at 2:50
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    We're in violent agreement. My point was that you say not to listen to strangers on the internet, but then you, a stranger on the internet, proceed to give what is essentially the only rational answer in any situation like this: talk to the stakeholders. I was giving you a half-joking backhanded compliment. – Mad Physicist Apr 23 at 8:26
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A point missed by the other answers:

The university will be very upset if you hire students into permanent, full time jobs before they graduate. Inducing students to leave the university without a degree is irresponsible. It is bad for the finances of both the student and the university. Students with incomplete degrees are usually paid less (correlation, probable causation).

You will probably find that hiring graduates, nondegree students, summer interns, and part-time employees is encouraged.

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  • "In my groups I have several promising students to whom I would like to offer a job after the course ends." So I don't think he stands to be accused of poaching. But it does happen in some métiers like gaming software development where a student who's clearly good enough to be a useful employee is made an offer he/she can't refuse and abandons the course being pursued. This clearly deprives the college of revenue but more importantly undermines its credibility in providing adequate or desirable training for work. – Trunk Apr 20 at 14:57
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    @Trunk "After the course ends" presumably means the specific course term in which OP is teaching them, not their entire "course of study"/degree program. So if they took a job it could be after this course but well before graduation, if this is not their final term. – nanoman Apr 20 at 21:17
  • Maybe, nanoman. But Mael needs to clarify that. – Trunk Apr 20 at 22:10
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    Yes, "course" means different things in different places. – Anonymous Physicist Apr 20 at 22:14
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    @Trunk Yeah, +nanoman is right. I was thinking of offering them a job after my course. But I see your point, and I have to conclude it's a valid one. Thank you. – Mael Apr 21 at 12:40
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The University likes it when their students get jobs, and invites industry representatives precisely for that purpose (but usually less directly -- "we'd like your grads to know more X" or "we definitely want to send people to their job faire"). They won't get mad you hired their grads too quickly.

But you want to avoid the appearance of impropriety. You don't want other students saying some people only got A's because they were working for you, or that you spent too much class time looking for hires. You don't want your University contact person to get a bad impression. So simply encourage those students to apply at your company, listing you as a reference. Keeps it at arms length. And sure, sure, ask your contact person at the U, or maybe an advisor.

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I'm a (former) student who was hired by the company of my adjunct professor. I was taking a PHP web design course at a community college in the US. He informed the entire class that his company was hiring and encouraged us to apply. He didn't single me out specifically, and he also didn't have any outward say in the recruitment, like telling people they'd be great for the job or that they'd get hired for sure.

I interviewed with people completely unrelated to him and was offered the job independent of any grading, etc that would have happened for the course. It was the semester that I was supposed to graduate from the college, so I was allowed to finish all my courses and work full time around that.

Once I was hired, my professor stayed slightly distant at the job until I had finished his course, at which point we became good friends and he's now my personnel manager. As long as there's a clear distinction between the company and the professor and they aren't involved in the hiring process, I think it's a great opportunity for students.

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    Sounds like a professional guy. You can be very sure that his word was responsible for 90% of the final hiring decision. – Mad Physicist Apr 22 at 21:17
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I've done this in New Zealand. I was a guest lecturer at a university and a representative of industry (government actually.)

What happened was that I had a good student who was looking for a job, and I encouraged him to apply for a job in my company (government department) after the course ended.

Perhaps I should note that he was actually a postdoc who was taking courses because he was finding it hard to get a job and considering a transition to industry, so he was a bit more mature than the average student.

(The New Zealand situation is maybe a bit different though, since we have an extreme nepotism problem, so everyone is happy that we hired someone good rather than the boss's nephew!)

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You should not worry about the university so much as worry about your organization's personnel manager and your own record for hiring good staff.

Most EU countries have employment law stating that positions (part- or full-time) must be fairly advertised internally, locally and nationally prior to their being offered internationally - though in exceptional cases like rare skills they may be advertised nationally (e.g. national newspaper) and internationally (e.g. New Scientist) simultaneously.

The jobs at issue here are either summer/sandwich internships or else graduate-level trainee positions. It's possible existing staff at the employer organization may have sons/daughters who would be candidates for such jobs - you cannot afford to vex these staff by denying their children their right to apply. Then there are student/graduate candidates from other local or national colleges who also have a right to apply - though naturally the non-locals would be disadvantaged if they have to live away from home.

Now, there's nothing wrong with inviting students to apply for jobs at your organization as long as they are aware that they are not the sole candidates and appointments are made on broad merit grounds.

But the dilemma you face is here. On the one hand, if you do right educationally and not mention jobs till the end of the course/exams then you stand to miss some of the students you'd like to hire - they may have committed to working elsewhere, going abroad, etc in the meantime. On the other hand, if you advise all (and it must be all to avoid accusations of "creaming" being made to university management) students of possible internships/jobs, then this will affect both student motivation and cooperation between students - some students will cut the professional/social throats of others just for a job, it's a fact.

Personally, I think the best thing is for you to keep silent on jobs till after your educational commitment is complete but occasionally (at suitable points of lectures or in discussing course work) making the point that employers generally like certain virtues in candidates like cooperation with people you may not like socially, willingness to give some extra time to a sticky problem, initiative, honest endeavour, thinking outside the box, good design, clear communication, appreciation of human diversity, etc, etc. The real good ones will take some of this aboard, the what's-in-it-for-me types will turn a deaf ear.

I think that this approach - despite the risk of losing an occasional coveted candidate - is fairest to the employing organization, the student candidates, the university's reputation and - eventually in the long run - your own judgement and reputation.

Note too that those who shine in a university environment may not stand out so much in other working environments: they may be less motivated in an all-ages situation, or may find the stop/start tempo hard to take or may not be motivated by working for the company's reputation instead than their own. Were you to proceed hastily and unilaterally "book" a student for an internship where he/she disappoints then some people in your own company will note this - formally and informally.

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    But you state at the start "Most EU countries have employment law that positions (part- or full-time) must be fairly advertised internally, locally and nationally", which is very different from "yeah it makes sense for the company to do so". I'm not aware of any such laws which is why I was asking about an example. I mean I've been involved in hiring people in Austria and I'd imagine our lawyers would've had something to say about blatantly illegal behavior on our part. And if such a law really existed wouldn't hiring people that apply on their own without a job advert also be illegal? – Voo Apr 22 at 8:48
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    So yeah I think you're confusing this with the more stringent requirement for government jobs (or the special rules when hiring people without an existing work permit) where such rules do indeed exist. But I may be wrong - which is why I was asking about an example :) – Voo Apr 22 at 8:50
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    (This is interesting, so I'll post this as a question law SE tonight I think). Is there any example of a successful law suit on this? Discrimination is only illegal if you discriminate against certain protected classes as I understand it and "Not hired because could not apply" isn't one, so what would be illegal there? – Voo Apr 22 at 10:28
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    Sure that's discrimination. But discrimination is not illegal. It's only illegal if you discriminate against someone based on a protected class (gender, age, religion,..). Who was discriminated based on which protected class here? – Voo Apr 22 at 12:20
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    Here are some straight answers on the above matter law.stackexchange.com/questions/64390/… – Trunk Apr 23 at 12:10

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