I have started working while studying during my second year. Although it has taken me some time to learn how to juggle studies and work, I can say I am slowly getting the hang of it. I can confirm that getting work experience while studying has really benefited me. It ’s especially beneficial to gain experience in the field that you’re interested in. The work life also won’t be much of a shock for you once you’ve graduated. It’s important to get some on-the-job experience as not everything you learn from university will help you in the ‘real world’.
Getting work experience while studying helps you learn new skills and refine existing ones
Sure, you learn the basics from university – like researching for essays, editing for a video or radio package, or simply working on a report. However, if you gain work experience, what you learn from university and vice versa, tend to complement each other. All the researching that I have been doing for my studies has helped me with my internship. It did provide the basic skills but it helped me learn to work at a faster pace. Even working with difficult groupmates help you build a tough skin for those difficult clients. Another benefit is you have more opportunities to social learn at work, whether it’s through your colleagues or bosses. (Check out my article on social learning here).
Gain work relationships and networking opportunities
Internships, part-time jobs, or maybe a one-off job will help you build your contacts. During my first week of internship, my bosses let me join them for a networking event. I got to exchange my business card with various people in the Media or Public Relations (PR) industry. It has given me a jumpstart to building work relationships that will eventually be useful for them, as well as myself. Your bosses could potentially be your mentors as well (check out my article on the value of mentors here). You get to learn from them on a daily basis as their knowledge is basically a goldmine for us newbies. I was encouraged to apply for FutureLab’s Campus Writer program by my boss. Such opportunities help you to further improve your skills.
Gives an idea of what you might want to pursue after you graduate
If you’re still confused at what you’d like to do once you’ve graduated, getting work experience while studying will help clear the path for you. Maybe you’d like to see how an advertising company works, or test out working for an NGO. Your curiosity may help you find what you may really like to do on a daily basis. I was very curious about the PR industry prior to my internship, and just during the span of three months, I learnt so much.
Obviously, as a student, you’re aware that your studies are important. Working will help you manage your time better, and even get you to become more focused. The key is to balance your time. I currently experience that first hand. Although I have at least three assignment deadlines every other week, I make sure I plan everything in advance. I do this to avoid rushing assignments as well not jeopardise my job. However, if you do find yourself losing focus in studies, make sure you have a sit-down with your boss, to adjust your schedule. Or maybe stick to working during the holidays if you don’t want to take the risk.
These are just a few beneficial reasons as to why working while studying is important. Its benefits are endless as it sets your path for your career. I’m not saying you must work while studying. Maybe try dedicating your long holiday to gain some work experience. It doesn’t always have to be a paid job; volunteer work will be just as fruitful.
Have you worked or currently work while studying? Share your experiences in the comments below!
For those that are currently working on their degree part-time while working, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Check out this article for some tips (if you haven’t done some research already).
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Christeen Akkarawatte. A final year student at Monash University, majoring in Communications and Global Studies. She is also a FutureLab Campus Writer, a program aimed at enabling university students to begin writing and growing their own active communities on FutureLab alongside many influential mentors.