Most college bound and college age students with whom we work are eager to work, if only to have a reliable source of spending money. Some have computer, athletic, or language skills that make them marketable. By selling their own skills (babysitting, tutoring, computer repair, coaching a sport, etc.) students learn to be entrepreneurs and can often make a tidy hourly wage.
Other students struggle to find meaningful work where they can actually earn money and acquire a skill.
Parents should lend a hand here. We often find students reluctant to capitalize on parental contacts, preferring to “do it on my own.” It is a noble instinct, but not a practical one in today’s tight job market. While the student should make the contact for herself, working from a parent’s lead clearly gives an edge.
Jobs for students should teach real skills, even if they pay less well than more mindless endeavors. Being a camp counselor, for example, really puts young people in adult, leadership roles. While salaries in this field are not generally high, the learning is huge: students learn to be responsible for others, follow a program, and pass on their own skills. Retail or food service jobs often do not provide the same character development. Glamorous internships in, for example, the fashion industry often have students performing very basic tasks and being taken advantage of for free labor. If a student is taking on an internship and not being paid, he should get a very clear idea in advance of what his work will be accomplished! Better to have a menial paid job than a menial unpaid job, even if it “sounds good.”
Starting younger children with paid household tasks teaches a work ethic and gives the individual additional revenue beyond a mere allowance. Start early!
Work provides solid grist for those gaping spaces on college applications. Students attending sports and other camps should find work, if possible, before or after camp.
College students know that internships and jobs can often lead directly to employment after graduation. They should treat each day at these positions as job interviews: showing their best effort, dressing appropriately, and always being prompt.
- Gap-Year “eye-openers” for a variety of parents (myiesolutions.wordpress.com)
Sarah C. Reese
Executive Director, Informed Educational Solutions