June 3, 2011
Real Life College Student Blog: In College and On-The-Job
Today’s edition of the Real Life College Student blog is by Utah college student, Zachary Stickney, from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Zach entered the college world through the Upward-Bound pre-college program and is currently a senior studying Political Science. For an in-depth description of Zach’s admirable transition from high school to college and his college experience, check out this blog from WSU, “Once-Struggling High School Student Excelling in College.” With the rising price tag on higher education, more and more college students are taking on full or part-time jobs to help pay for their tuition. In today’s blog, Zach Stickney offers you his tips and advice on gaining job experience in college. Enjoy!
One of the most common issues circulating around the higher education sphere today is obvious: college is expensive! (And hey, that’s why an entire section of the HigherEdUtah site is dedicated to preparing and paying for college.) Today, the reality is that a great deal of the students pursuing, entering and currently attending college will need to seek out a job at some point to help cover the costs of a higher education. Now, I know working may not be number one on your list of activities to engage in after a hard day of classes, but take a look at it this way. On-the-job experience is your chance to make connections, build and acquire skills and get ahead of the competition.
It’s about the opportunity, not the glamour
The first thing I’d like to point out about entering the workforce for the first time is that it’s okay to work somewhere that isn’t terribly glamorous. Although many students seem to poke fun at the idea of working for fast food or stocking shelves at a grocery store, the truth is that many of them will end up at places like that, at least temporarily. (I’ve personally worked as a busser at a restaurant, delivered newspapers, and worked as a customer service representative, but you’re still reading my blog, right?) This isn’t a bad thing. Your first job is still an opportunity to make those connections, establish a reputation for yourself, and form habits (hopefully good ones) that you’ll keep throughout your career.
Get ahead of the competition
I’d also like to stress that if you have the time and can afford it, working for free as an intern or working for a lower wage at a job which has something to do with your career interest is preferable. I say this because when you graduate from college, potential employers will be excited about your education of course, but they’re MUCH more excited about someone who has the knowledge for the position AND some kind of background experience similar to the job in question. For instance, if you’re planning on becoming a teacher, an obvious first job might be working as a tutor. As a tutor, you can gain valuable experience in peer-to-peer communication and you get the opportunity to teach (at least at a fundamental level).
Gain and hone professional skills for the future
Less obvious though might be working for something like a library or a school newspaper. Working in a library might not seem useful for anything but becoming a librarian, but in truth you learn organization, communication, and team-building skills. Similarly, writing for a school newspaper isn’t only useful for an aspiring journalist. School newspapers often have commentary on current events, arts, sports, science, politics, and basically anything else you can think of. Learning to write and convey a message effectively is useful in any job, and a school newspaper is an excellent proving ground to develop your talents.
Again, none of these things may seem particularly glamorous, but not everyone in the world can have the almost instant success of someone like Mark Zuckerberg. You’re going to have to work hard and make a habit of it. In short, get in there, be proud of yourself and have confidence, but don’t be afraid to do something “menial” in order to build up for something great in the future. Humility and respect for your work, no matter what it is, will pay big dividends as long as you keep your head up.
If you have any questions or comments for Zachary, please leave them in the comment box below!
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