It’s very common for students to work in part-time or full-time jobs to support themselves and/or their studies. Often these jobs in retail, administrative office work, family businesses are not the career paths that you are interested in, but they serve to provide some financial stability or contribution. However, sometimes the more difficult issue becomes the struggle to leave this position after graduation and pursue the professional area of your interest.
Here are some mistakes that many students with jobs make during their undergraduate education:
1) Not getting several internships in their professional area of interest.
The complaint is often that there is no time with a job to do an internship. You must find a way to do several internships because without the relevant experience and contacts you will have a much harder time finding a job in your field.
2) Staying too long.
Sometimes, the stable money is seductive and hard to resist and many college graduates stay on in the job beyond their graduation, but the farther you are away from graduation, the harder it will be to leave the job and also explain why you stayed and how that contributed to your development as a financial analyst or PR Rep.
3) Placing this job prominently on their resume.
Either due to having no/few internships or the length of time at this position is seen as more valuable than relevance, many students place this job visibly on their resume. You have to have developed enough experience and skills in your new professional area that this job is rendered insignificant to your pursuits after graduation.
4) Spending little time developing their new professional identity.
With a job, there is often very little time for other things. You must, though, value your networking, programming/events specific to your professional interests and developing a professional identity. You need to see yourself as a future accountant, journalist, communications professional, etc. This will help you take the next steps.
Having a job during your undergraduate degree can help you to develop all kinds of important skills – multitasking, time management and ability to quickly shift sets. However, you still must focus on your plans after graduation and pursue all the requisite training experiences needed to transition if you don’t want your part-time college job to become your profession.
Author Lisa Orbe-Austin