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I am a Masters student in maths in Toronto and changed supervisors one year into my Masters program. My new supervisor was expecting me to to a PhD with him, but within two months of switching to him, I mentioned to him that I would not be pursuing a PhD. I mentioned to him that I haven't decided what to do after my Masters, as I would like to work hard on my Masters thesis and write a good thesis.

Even though I said this, I am spending half my time learning data science because I would like to transition to data science after my Masters. The fact that I have only been putting in a minimal amount of effort to my thesis is reflected in the amount of work I complete every week before my meeting with him.

I have recently decided to fly to Chicago for a networking event in data science, which means that I will not be on campus for one working day of the week and also I will miss my supervisor's group meeting. I have already mentioned this to the course instructor for which I am a TA this term and he's switched my office hours for next week.

Now, the course instructor and my supervisor are in the same research group, and I am afraid to ask my supervisor for a leave for one day because I have been putting in a minimal amount of effort for my Masters thesis.

Should I ask my supervisor for a one-day leave, or should I not tell him and miss the group meeting and just return to work the next day?

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    I'd encourage you to try to get your advisor on your side for your future plans. Are you planning to do a PhD in data science? You'll need a recommendation letter from him. – nengel Oct 20 '17 at 3:30
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In general, it is not a good idea to miss a meeting that you were expected to attend, without giving any notice. It looks unprofessional, and it is annoying and rude to people who made plans based on your attendance at the meeting.

Let your advisor know that you are planning to miss the meeting.

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  • I don't want my supervisor to know about the event. Could I say 'I'd like a leave for one day due to a family problem'? Also, I only sit down and listen. I am never expected to, nor contribute to the group meetings. – helloworks1234 Oct 20 '17 at 2:55
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    I don't understand why you would hide your attendance at the event. Is it that there is some upside to appearing "undecided" about your future goals? If so, you can always say you are exploring options in the data science field and so have decided to attend a data-science-related event. – Dawn Oct 20 '17 at 3:03
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    FYI, most reasonable supervisors would expect that, if you are not doing a PhD, you are making some other plans for the future. It would be strange if you were not. It would be unreasonable to expect you to focus only on your Master's thesis to the detriment of planning your career. – Dawn Oct 20 '17 at 3:07
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    I think you are always expected to contribute to group meetings, and the fact that you never do may be evidence that you are not putting enough effort on both your thesis and group. Please consider that while you may have other interests, you have also made a commitment with your advisor and research group. Also, don't lie. If you really want to hide your motives, say that you won't be able to attend the meeting. It's better to not give any reasons than having your advisor find out that you lied. – user63725 Oct 20 '17 at 3:07
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    @helloworks1234 I think it would be very unproductive to lie about something like this, especially since you already told someone else in the department where you are going. I don't know what negative effect you think telling your advisor your plans will have, but I can't imagine that effect would be worse for your relationship than dishonesty. – ff524 Oct 20 '17 at 3:40

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