Should You Work In College?

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While talking with the father of two teenagers, he said, ”I don’t want my kids to work part-time jobs.”

He went on, “It’s too much trouble getting them back and forth to work.  A job interferes with schoolwork and extracurricular activities.” Vacation trips in the summer and during school breaks are important for our family.”

Countless times I have heard these and similar reasons why parents discourage part-time jobs for their children during their college years.

When I recommended to a student that it would be a good idea to seek internship opportunities during his school breaks, he replied emphatically, “I don’t intend to work cheap, and I am certainly not going to work for free.  Next summer, I am going to tour Europe on a bike; I don’t have time for an internship.”

Even though this is not what I usually hear from the college students that ask me for advice, it does happen occasionally when I offer unrequested suggestions.

In years past, parents and teenage students recognized the long-term value and had a more positive view of part-time jobs and internships.  Part-time job compensation is usually low. Sometimes internships don’t pay anything, but the value in experience is priceless.

Too many graduates show up for their first job with a beautiful, framed diploma on their bedroom wall but no plan in mind of how to please a boss or advance their career.  Their educators have told them that they are prepared to be leaders, and they are shocked to learn that they are not going to be in charge.

Is this an exaggeration?  It’s a slight one.

What they would have learned on that part-time job is how to satisfy a real boss and a real customer. They would learn how to satisfy a supervising boss, and that nothing happens until somebody sells something.  They would understand that they are not there to get paid, but to sell a product or provide a service.

Graduates who have part-time experience before their full-time job have a tremendous advantage over those who do not.  That part-time experience gives them the benefit of testing the water to see if they really are going to like the work environment in the career they have chosen.  How many times have you known a recent graduate to say, “I didn’t know this is what I would be doing.  I don’t like this.  I have chosen the wrong career.”

A great advantage of part-time jobs and internships is an opportunity to meet potential future bosses.  The number one principle of Creative Followership is …

Choose Your Boss

Good bosses are looking for good people to add to their teams, and know where to find them.  Good bosses pay special attention to part-timers and interns.  A good time and place to find a good boss is when and where good bosses are also looking for good employees.  That simplifies the student’s search and makes it easier to choose a good boss.

Part-time jobs and internships offer students priceless experience and great opportunities.

 

Jimmy Collins