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Parents Often Tell Me….

I have had so many parents tell me that they do not want their kids to work while they are in college. And I have had even more parents tell me they do not encourage their kids to work the summers when they are in high school. I respond to all parents with this same statement -“You are doing your child a disservice by not encouraging them to work while in school!” I wholeheartedly believe in this 100%.

I firmly believe that once students enter the 9th grade-their summers should consist of some type of work/ volunteer work and continue each summer until they graduate from college. Beginning with their college sophomore year, they should begin looking for a summer internship preferably related to their field of study or sign up for the co-op program if their school offers one. I am certainly not advocating that work should come before grades. I certainly understand that some students need complete focus while in school and working too much may affect their grades. So the compromise is to at least strongly encourage that they find some type of employment during their summers.

Why? There are several reasons:

1. It helps them to cultivate work ethic and learn life skills. They are becoming young adults and it can be difficult for them to transition to a full -fledged working life from a college life without any work experience. On the job experience gives them information and data about themselves and the world that you cannot get in a classroom or a textbook. It helps them handle real-life situations like conflict management, motivation to work when they do not feel like it and to demonstrate responsibility. 

2. It shows an ability to balance a school load, college life, and grades. It teaches the student how to focus on more than one issue and also how to multi-task. I often say that work experience is more favorable than a 4.0 GPA student with no work experience. When I see a 4.0 student resume that has not worked or has not been involved in any student organizations or activities, I often wonder why. If the student is not involved on campus and not working, then it leads me to believe that maybe they should have a 4.0 if they are only going to classes. On the contrary though, if I encounter a 3.0 student that is working part-time and treasurer of the business fraternity, then I immediately recognize their ability to balance and demonstrate the ability to have multiple balls in the air. It tells me that they are not foreign to time management, shifting focus, and prioritization. These are all key skills in any employment situation.

3. They need work experience for their resume. Gaining work experience is invaluable to building a solid resume. Recruiters and hiring managers like seeing college students who have work experience, especially those who have work experience closely related to their career choice. It also gives an advantage and puts the student ahead of their other college peers who have no work experience. Work experience can set you apart and shows potential employers that you are not a stranger to work rules and work environment.

4. It can provide the student money management skills.  Learning how to manage money at a young age is valuable and will pay dividends for students as they begin to enter their career. It is often the first time students have to manage money when they land their first job and get their first paycheck. The average starting salary for college graduates in 2016 was $50, 000. That can seem like a lot of money for students until they realize Uncle Sam gets his percentage first and they realize that their healthy, young appetites and tastes actually translate into a lot of dollars. Learning how to live below your means and manage your finances will be key as they enter the workforce. 

As a summary,
working while in college can definitely be a challenge for students but the rewards outweigh the sacrifices and inconveniences.

I do believe that students should be able to handle 10-20 hours a week beginning their sophomore year in college and full-time hours every summer in between their college years. 

After all, this is just the beginning of the rest of their adult life.

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