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You Got the Degree, Now Where is the Work Experience?

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With the way the economy is these days, many college students don't have the luxury of attending college full–time without also working at least on a part–time basis. However, regardless of the economy, working while attending college is a great way to gain valuable exposure to the work world and a student's chosen profession.

That being the case it is important to make sure that any work experience a college student gains has at least some relation to the degree they are pursuing and/or can provide skill that are applicable to their field of study. Why?
They could spend four years obtaining a college degree only to find out they made the wrong career choice – they don't enjoy working in their chosen field of study.



They might realize they don't know what they are qualified to do or what career they should pursue once they obtain their college degree (see related article, ""What Can I Do with My College Degree?"")

Work experience gained while in school, that relates to a person's college degree, not only enhances their learning experience, it puts them one up on the competition when it's time to find a full-time job.

Gaining work experience which develops transferable skills (those all important soft skills) can help with the after-college job search, even if their work experience is not directly related.

Any work experience gained while attending college demonstrates an individual's ability to multi-task and meet deadlines as well as their self-motivation and drive.
So what's the best way to go about deciding what work experience would be best for a specific college degree?

Many of the skills that part-time positions provide are not necessarily transferable. Skills such as working a cash register or sweeping floors may help pay bills, but won't take a student's career very far. Instead focus on soft skills.

Soft skills include things like the ability to communicate ideas and thoughts either verbally or in writing, critical thinking and problem solving skills, and the ability to build good relationships and work in teams. Make a list of those that are most important or relevant.

Next, students should speak with their instructors, the department chair and/or an advisor about finding part-time work that relates to their degree. Sometimes these individuals are aware of internships or have connections with local companies that might be offering part-time opportunities. Checking with the campus career center can often times provide a lead on good part-time positions.

Another alternative for college students is to investigate summer opportunities where they can work full-time for a two to three month period, many times within their field of study. There are several websites – quintcareers.com, backdoorjobs.com, jobmonkey.com – that offer unique internships or entry-level opportunities.

Students may also want to consider volunteer work with an organization that is involved in providing services related to their degree. Or check out temporary employment agencies for full-time summer work. It's a great way to get a short-term opportunity and gain needed experience.

Finally, if the perfect part-time position is not available, students should review their soft skills list and figure out what job is available that can provide the best chance of developing these skills, regardless of the field.

Remember: learning is life long, whether it is in a formal program or on the job. So consider how each experience brings value to overall career success.
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 career choices  economy  gains  full-time jobs  professions  degrees  work experience  disciplines  relation  college degrees


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