Dear underclassman, graduation is no joke. It is coming. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, the threshold into independence awaits, and each of us will cross it in some form or fashion. The safety found in being a full time student, the cocoon of academia, will soon disintegrate, pushing you to the next step of your journey. After that, you will have to integrate into the world of work or graduate school.
Though this sounds daunting, I can assure you that your sweat-earned Ping Pong Championship Title 2014 of the MC Student Center or your legendary status, as Cups most loyal costumer, will do little to help you pay rent in the future. Instead, you can take steps to prepare for this transition into independence and to understand the world in which you will be expected to contribute and thrive.
Here is my challenge: get a job. Even if your parents pay for everything, get some real work experience to back up that perfect GPA. Most of us need a job in college to help cover expenses, but working now has some real benefits that go beyond a bi-weekly paycheck. Here are a few of those reasons:
1. Working gives you a real understanding of expectations.
When you work, you are part of a team that needs you…or they would not pay you to be there. If you treat your work lackadaisically, then they will find someone else who will help their team succeed.
2. Work experience gives you a valuable edge over other applicants for future endeavors.
Whether you are planning on going to graduate school or going into the workforce, people are going to look at the things you have accomplished to see what makes you special. If you prove that you are able to manage responsibilities required of you, you will look way more desirable than someone who has done the bare minimum in their college life. You are desirable because someone else has found you desirable in the past.
3. Working teaches you how to fail and how to try again, even when you do not want to.
It is inevitable. When you accept a new job, you are accepting a new culture. McDonald’s culture, Residence Life culture, or a McGregor and McGregor law firm culture: it does not matter. All of these places of employment have their own language, their own norms, and their own vibe that you will be thrown into.
Most likely, you will suck at first, but that is understandable. Only time will help you understand this foreign culture, and you are bound to make mistakes and disappoint people in the process. It is harsh. But it is the truth. And it is OK. Failure is a part of learning. The growth part happens when you learn how to get back up and do it better second time around instead of running away.
With these three reasons in mind, I would challenge you to think about life beyond college, to interact with those outside of the MC bubble, and get some real work experience under your belt. Getting a job in the field you plan to enter is ideal, but not all-together necessary. Find something. Do something. Learn something.
– Mallory Hudson, Opinions Editor