Over the past four years, the thing that helped me grow more than anything else has been working full or part time alongside my classes. Being a graphic communications major, I have always been an extremely hands on learner, and sitting in large classrooms listening to a lecture alone was never enough for me. Throughout the last 4 years of college, I have had many kinds of jobs and I believe each one helped me grow in a way just my degree alone couldn’t have. Managing both at once is difficult, but the skills and opportunities you’ll gain are worth it.
The first and most obvious benefit is that college is expensive and working can help with that expense. Aside from that, having job experience while in school is great for resumes. Even if your part time job isn’t related to what you eventually want to do as a career, it will still show potential employers your ability to balance work and school and show off your work ethic. Your transition into the “adult” working world will also be easier to adapt to if you have some experience already.
Having a job is a great way to start building your network. Having a good career network is essential to getting the best job you possibly can after graduation. I have spent 5 semesters working in an on-campus position in my field, and having a personal connection with the supervisors there is incredibly valuable to me. Job supervisors have likely been with the job long enough to know a lot of alumni who have graduated and entered the job field and are usually more than happy to reach out on your behalf to help you get an initial interview. Your college co-workers may also come across good opportunities after graduation and reach out to you as well. Having someone willing to put in a good word for you may get you a chance for an interview you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Many times, if you don’t get an assignment done for school you’re able to get late credit or make up the grade somehow. You don’t always get this luxury with a job. If you don’t meet a deadline or due date you’re at risk of losing your client or the sale and losing money for the company. This is what helped me with time-management skills. When you’re working, you must be more organized and plan ahead in order to fit everything in your schedule. These added skills in planning, organization, and time management often leads to better academic grades as well.
Working teaches you communication skills that you would not get from a regular classroom environment. If you’re working in something related to your field, you can get great experience working with clients and other businesses. You can also build knowledge about the best ways to communicate with like-minded people. If you’re working a job outside of your field, you will gain experience in one-on-one communication with many types of people. The jobs that helped me the most with confidence and communication skills were my “temporary” jobs like waitressing and retail. These jobs teach you how to communicate with people of many different skills and backgrounds. These jobs were also very customer service heavy, so I was always talking to people to try to make them as satisfied as possible.
Juggling work and school may seem like a lot to take on, especially if you don’t actually need the money. GPA isn’t the only thing that matters, and employers want to know about your involvements and how you spent your time outside of the classroom as well. College is a great time in your life to start working and build a resume and career skills early, and a part time job will be so helpful in adapting to your post grad life.
Written By: Peyton Kinsey