In an academic world where the cost of tuition continues to skyrocket with every year that passes, you may be wondering how you’ll ever manage the cost. Unlike the select few, you may not have a college savings account or scholarship, and find that you’ll need to work to support your academic pursuits. (For some helpful info on ways to pay for college, read our article here .)
Take heart, it can be done! Juggling the responsibilities of a job and school takes discipline and organization, but the skills you’ll gain far outweigh the short-term difficulties. Here are just a few of the benefits of holding a college job:
- Building your skills (hard and soft.) Every job, no matter the industry or type of work, provides you with opportunities to gain skills through trial, error, and practice. It’s the best way to learn. The tasks you set yourself to accomplish, struggling and troubleshooting until you create a process or solution, are the learning opportunities that stick. So, embrace every chance you get! Once you graduate, your future employers will be looking for candidates with skills in problem solving, customer service, leadership, technology, communication, teamwork and conflict resolution. Your college jobs will provide you ample examples to pull from.
- Accessing health and retirement benefits. Many jobs, even some
, offer employee benefits. As a student, having employer-supplemented health insurance, disability insurance, paid sick leave and possibly even employer-matched contributions to a 401k can be a huge boon. As you’re job hunting, search for larger companies that offer these services if possible. You should also ask if they offer any type of tuition assistance, as more and more companies are attracting employees with tuition reimbursement programs.
- Creating balance and independence. Every successful person must discover their own method for balancing their work, school, and personal life. Your college years are a prime opportunity to figure this out. Although it requires sacrifice, there is freedom in being self-sufficient. It may be hard at first, but once you learn how to
manage your time
, you’ll find an incredible power in being able to support yourself and excel in your studies. There will always be things to juggle in life. Accepting this truth as a young adult and learning how to successfully navigate a demanding schedule will make you a far more productive person in the future.
- Gaining a variety of work experience. A college job doesn’t have to be a drudgery. If at all possible, try to find a position in your field of study. Seek paid internships or talk with your professors for recommendations on the best jobs to build your desired skillset and industry connections. Even if you’re not able to find a job in your future industry, you’re learning how to perform well while managing multiple responsibilities. View your current job as a stepping stone to your future career, and be sure to ask if you can use your employers and coworkers as references in the future.
- Minimizing debt. There’s no two ways about it—avoiding
unnecessary student loans
will change your life after graduation. It’s worth every hour spent away from friends or extracurricular activities now to avoid the weight of debt down the road. Remind yourself of that regularly if you feel tired or discouraged.
- More opportunities to make connections. Every job you hold provides unique opportunities to
meet new people and build relationships
. You never know when one of those connections might lead to a valuable referral or lasting friendship down the road. Try to be open to the possibilities before you, as well as the empowering changes to your own outlook that come from pushing outside your comfort zone.
- Learning the value of a dollar. Nothing gives you a better perspective on money and the true cost of things than getting a job and suddenly being responsible for your own expenses. Even if you are still able to live at home while going to school, increased financial responsibilities will help you appreciate hard work and what it takes to support yourself in a whole new way. Save yourself a lot of grief by creating a budget from the beginning, and be sure to set aside money for savings each month.