Are you planning to find work over the break? Here’s something to consider if your job continues into next semester…
Being a university student is hard work – every semester is taken up with tutorials, lectures, weekly readings, assignments, and *shudder* group projects. It’s a juggling act – made infinitely harder when you have to balance it with part-time or casual work.
Some students are lucky enough to not have to work while studying, but many of us don’t have this luxury, whether we’re living out of home and paying bills or just need some extra spending money. Australia now has a higher rate of millennials in the workforce than almost any other country, and this employment culture is only set to grow.
As someone who first started working at fifteen, I’m well versed in the art of trying to balance work, study, and a social life. It can be difficult, and there are definitely some downsides to working while at uni – added stress, a lack of free time, and actually having to go to work. But there are a lot of positives to working while at school, and they have a far more lasting effect on your life.
When you finally earn your degree and head out into your field, there’s a good chance you’re not going to have much, if any, relevant work experience. Heading out into the world you’ll find it a lot easier if you have some recent employment history to show for your however many years of life, even if it’s not related to your field.
And, while part time work in retail or hospitality may not have taught you the specifics of your chosen industry, you’ll have gained other skills that are just as important – soft skills.
Soft skills are important no matter what industry you work in
Soft skills include interpersonal skills – those skills that will help you communicate, get along with others and generally succeed in the workplace. Other ‘soft skills’ include skills and characteristics such as having a good work ethic and an ability to work in a team, multi-task, act confidently, adapt quickly and act professionally.
All of the above you can learn simply by being a part of the workforce and by working with people.
And, while it may often seem like the seventh circle of hell, working in customer focused industries such as retail, hospitality and fast food is also an effective way to perfect skills such as your ability to communicate and solve conflict.
Customer service can be difficult but – on the upside – you’ll be exposed to a whole lot of people outside of your usual groups and have to learn to think on your feet quickly.
If you’ve spent any time in customer service, it’s likely you have a story, or several, about any difficult customers you’ve encountered. Many employers will be interested in hearing about your customer service experience during interviews and explaining how you dealt with these situations is a great way to expand on your positive attributes.
It will also give them valuable insight into how you deal with conflict, solve problems and conduct yourself.
Working helps you learn valuable life skills
Aside from work providing valuable lifelong skills, being pushed to balance work, study and meet deadlines forces you to prioritise important tasks and manage your time effectively.
You also need to learn to be resilient and figure out ways to manage stress effectively.
So, if you’re in the position to be able to choose study over work – meaning you don’t have to work to support your studies – keep in mind, there’s value in experience no matter what it is.