Work and academics are not mutually exclusive. Yes, we’re encouraged to go to college and get a good job afterwards, we know a lot of people who successfully juggle a part-time job and their academics. Combining school and work comes at a price, the most obvious one being the physical and mental exertion. In many cases, and with the right approach, working while studying is well worth the trouble.
In this article, you will learn at least ten good reasons why you should consider a part-time job while pursuing a college degree. The article also proffers advice on how to approach your work-study arrangement in order to enjoy these benefits.
First, here are ten notable benefits of working while studying:
1. You Earn Income
One of the reasons that students in high school or college take up jobs is to make some money. For some, the money they earn from their work is the primary means of funding their education. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), it costs an average of $13,000 to stay in public college. A lot of college students, therefore, take up jobs to meet this financial burden which includes tuition, housing, feeding and academic materials. In the same vein, some college students who rely on student loans to support their education can reduce their college debt using earnings from a part-time job. There are "Work-Study" arrangements in which the student works as payment for part or all of one’s tuition.
Students who have sponsors or full scholarships to cover for their academic expenses could use the extra bucks to improve their lives. Money gotten from a job could be used to get some fancy electronics, clothing or for other living expenses. It could be put into savings and meaningful investments. Some notable individuals are known to have taken up several jobs during college in order to fund a project or as a step towards achieving their dreams. Put simply, extra money is always welcome, especially if it keeps you from raking in credit card debts.
2. You Nurture Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are those intangible but desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge. These soft skills include common sense, good communication, decision-making skills, etc. For the most part, these soft skills come naturally. However, your time at a job gives you the opportunity to nurture these soft skills. First, you realize how important these skills are in the real world, and then you sharpen them before getting to the big stage. As you will see later, these soft skills are in high demand both in the job market and the business world.
3. You Gain Valuable Work Experience Early
When you do real work in your high school or college days, you become exposed to a real-life work environment. What’s more, you are getting this valuable experience much earlier than your colleagues in school who are not working.
But questions have been asked of the relevance of pre-graduation work experience. These concerns are raised on the backdrop that these undergraduate jobs are usually not in line with one’s chosen career path. These may be casual jobs that do not require any technical skills related to the field the student is studying or the profession one has chosen to pursue.
While you may not get direct professional experience while working during your college days, you get a lot of general workplace exposure which means a lot. For instance, you learn firsthand, how to work in a diverse team; how the organizational hierarchy works; and how people progress in their careers.
4. You make valuable Connections and Relationships
Your big break may lie in the hands of a connection you make at your workplace. The networking opportunity that a job affords is one of the biggest benefits of working while still in school. Your position becomes a platform to showcase your potential and endear yourself to your bosses and colleagues. Long after your stay with them, these solid connections can be drawn upon for advice, direction and recommendations. If you are fortunate to get a job within your area of career interest, then the connections you make there could be the launchpad for your career after you graduate.
Also, depending on your role, you can build rapport with company customers and partners as long as it does not go against company policy. You may never know how these contacts will profit you in the future. This network you form during your college days could form the base of your clientele in the future.
5. You Mature Faster Than Your Peers
You’ve heard it said that nothing matures an individual like responsibility. If responsibility is the ingredient for maturity, rest assured there will be ample provision for maturity at your work. Students who manage a job while studying exhibit traits of maturity like independence, purposefulness, and self-discipline.
Here’s why. As a working student, you are responsible not only for yourself and your academics but also for the organization you work for. Roles as modest as waiting tables could prove a huge burden of responsibility for a college student. This is because the student now represents the company in the role one is assigned. Needless to say that most company appraisals, KPIs, tasks and targets are designed to coax the best out of employees, including the part-time student worker.
The sense of responsibility is even greater for students who take up tasks on a freelance basis. In the freelance world, your next gig largely depends on your performance on your current task and previous tasks. To keep getting assignments, and earn income, the freelancer is required to deliver excellently on every task. This places a huge responsibility on the student worker, who must also maintain good academic performances.
6. You Develop Time Management Skills
Working while studying requires a great deal of discipline, especially in the area of time management. For you to successfully juggle academics with work, you must apportion time between your studies and your work. To adapt to the paucity of time that comes with the territory, you are forced to learn time management skills, including scheduling, prioritization, and delegation. These days it is possible to delegate people to do homework for you, rather than allowing work demands to interfere with your grades. Also, you are encouraged to learn how to set boundaries, avoid distractions and procrastination.
7. You will get a Head Start in the Job market
As organizations continue to focus on what new recruits can bring to the table, your work experience while still in school will stand you in good stead with recruiters. This works in your favour for various reasons:
· First, your work experience, depending on where you worked while in school, will enrich your CV. If quoting your experience on your CV does not land you the job, it will give you an edge over other candidates who do not have such experience.
· Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, your exposure to a real-life work environment gives you a sense of responsibility. Recruiters are skilled in sniffing out this attitude and other soft skills like common sense, emotional intelligence and communication skills.
· Thirdly, working during your school days, prepares you for work after school. Your firsthand experience helps you properly position yourself and prepare for job opportunities.
· Finally, the connections you made as a student working could pay off in the form of a job offer after graduation. It is very likely that the recommendations you get from your previous boss could go a long way in landing you your first job after school. There is also that chance scenario where your main interviewer is someone who highly regards you from your period as a student worker.
8. You Learn to Manage Your Finances Better
If you fetch your water, you know the value of every drop. This adage is true for water as it is for money. You’d agree that money gotten freely is often spent lavishly. But when you put in several shifts to earn some money, you more inclined to be prudent with your funds. Also, when you regularly associate with older adults who manage their resources to prudently, this attitude rubs off on you.
It could be priceless to learn financial management at a time when your mates are spendthrift in their expenditures. Warren Buffet attributes success to financial discipline in his early days; He started amassing wealth at 11-year old by investing in stocks. He carried on with this investing culture even through college, and we can see where it got him.
9. Your Academic Performance Could Get A Boost
Working while studying could significantly improve your academic performance. This may sound counter-intuitive, but on closer consideration, it makes a world of sense. Some of the good attitudes you learn while working transfers to your academic performance. Take time management, for instance. When you have learned to manage your time properly, you become more productive in your study hours which eventually results in good grades. Tenets of excellence, accountability and discipline learnt at the workplace can be applied to one’s academics to astonishing effect.
Furthermore, some work experiences can open up your mind to see the big picture of life and career. The narrow-mindedness which tends to develop when students are confined to the four walls of an educational system is torn down by glaring realities one meets in the workplace. In situations where the student gets a part-time job in the area of her passion, she is better poised to adapt her studies to solving real-world problems. For instance, the challenges faced at your job could inspire your research project. This way, your project will be making a direct impact on your immediate society.
10. You May Just Discover Your Dream Career Path
Finally, your part-time job may just be your passport to a great life.
A study has found that college graduates are less likely to start a job in their chosen field after graduation. In fact, about 40 percent of college grads start their first jobs without sing their bachelors. Though this considered underemployment, it exposes the reality that one’s career path outside their academic degrees in many cases.
Some of the highly-celebrated achievers began their journey to greatness right from college—from jobs and projects they were handling at the time. Michael Dell, for example, opted to drop out of college when his part-time job of refurbishing computers began to boom.
The Right Approach to Work & Study
To enjoy these benefits of working while studying, you need the right attitude and approach. As much as 76 percent of graduate students work at least 30 hours a week, according to a recent study by Gregorian University. This shows that juggling academics and work is very fairly common in the United States. What sets you apart is the right attitude and approach.
You must take necessary precautions to ensure that neither the work nor the academic stifle the success of the other. There’s no glory in dropping out of college if you end up struggling to make ends meet. On the contrary, skillful management of both endeavors speaks of your tendency to be successful.