For many college students working while in school is a must and a reality. Whether enrolled in 2-year, 4-year or a vocational training or career education program, campus jobs are often at a premium and college students try to land them early in the semester.
One of the problems I continue to see on college campuses is that working on campus is not considered to be serious work by many students or by departments that hire them. It is not unusual to hear college students say something like – “Oh, I just work on campus”. Aside from the fact that no one ever “just works” anywhere, since all work is important, campus employment offers really significant benefits for college students. Putting aside the schedule flexibility and the short commute, college students can gain the following real advantages by working on campus:
1. Meet college and univesity staff beyond the classroom. Most employees on college campuses love to work with college students and speak positively of their experiences. University employees are always willing to support exemplary student workers with letters of recommendations or become a reference for them in a job search or internship search.
2. Gain real, marketable skills in your preferred career area. College campuses are just like other organizations with employees in pretty much every functional area. For example, business students seeking real experiences can find college internship programson campus working in accounting, finance, HR, marketing and/or communications offices.
3. Develop an understanding of the actual job search process. Many campus administrators put college students through the actual hiring process. If resumes and interviews are needed, students get to walk through the actual hiring process. On many campuses there are formal application processes and students have to do more than just show up to get hired. They actually have to conduct a competitive job search.
4. Develop actual professional soft skills which are necessary for workplace success. Office etiquette, workplace social savvy, communication skills, following instructions etc. are all valuable skills that college students need to learn.
At the urging of many college career centers, some campuses are taking a more serious look at how they model the real world of work for they college students they hire.
I was part of the rollout of such an initiative as a Job Developer at my own alma mater’s college career center, many many moons ago. We didn’t realize how cutting edge we were back then. Since then I have introduced the concept to other colleges and the students and staff are better for it.
Campus jobs are real jobs too and college students need to use the opportunity to develop real networking relationships and real job skills.