Many of my high-school friends chose not to work while they studied. They decided to focus their energies on academic success, leaving school with a CV loaded under “education” but blank beneath “experience”.
Their lives were more adventurous; they knew more about Kim and Kanye’s turbulent romance and they had more thrilling drunken escapades to recall. Their GPAs were higher and their families has less reason to complain they were never home.
But it didn’t help their bottom line. It didn’t keep them away from unemployment centers and it didn’t impress recruiters who were looking for talent.
Employers value real life experience. They know that a classroom cannot teach you how to take on criticism, it cannot force you to co-operate with people you dislike and it cannot push you to bust your balls for a bitch that doesn’t appreciate you.
You see working is a learning curb. It cements the transition from carefree child to responsible adult; from free rider to bill-payer and from dependent to self-sufficient. It’s a lesson that teaches you the grind of real life.
I had eight different places on my resume before I was 20. I worked everywhere from retail to hospitality; from environmental monitoring in a science lab to coaching kids on a tennis court. This is what you get out of it:
You learn to take pride in your work
Always apply yourself to the task at hand. If you tutor, make your classes the highlight of your student’s week. If you make coffee, know your regular’s order by heart and if you work in a warehouse pick more and pick faster than anyone else in the joint.
You learn to multitask
You’ve all seen those pie charts right. Those crooked segments with warped proportions; ones that sacrifice your social life for work and good grades for sleep. Working while you study makes you define the balance, it makes you more productive because you have to be. You’ll find yourself studying on the train and catching up with your friends for a workout. You’ll straighten your hair while you watch a lecture and you’ll tag your mum along to shop for your boyfriend’s birthday present. It’s about using time wisely, about making the most of a limited resource.
You make friends
Some of my closest mates were made folding clothes at Kmart. Working forces you to mingle with people you may not normally associate with; to find kindred souls in strangers.
You save money
Who has expenses at 15? I mean you might wanna shout your crush a ticket to the movies but other than that your over-heads a pretty damn low. It’s incredible how quickly your balances add up when you aren’t debiting for food, schoolbooks, rent or petrol. Having a part time job meant I had $20,000 saved before I was 18 and could buy an investment property by the time I was 21.
You get familiar with the employment process
You don’t want to be 25 writing your first resume, applying for your first job and attending your first interview. You should have had at least five chances to fuck it up before then.
You get references
What the hell are you going to put on your resume if you’ve never had a job? Working gives you a chance to network early on; to learn for the best in the business and to have those people endorse your skills. No recruiter is going to pay any attention to you if you don’t have at least 5 connections on LinkedIn and your mum doesn’t count!
At the end of the day, the most important thing you get out of working part time is the knowledge that nothing comes easy. You learn to fend for yourself and to take responsibility for your actions and trust me there is nothing more valuable than that.