Do Jobs and Internships REALLY Matter? I Just Need Money!
This is a topic I’ve been having with both clients and friends lately. The question arises around “Does where I work REALLY matter on my resume?” Whether you’re in high school and preparing for the college resume draft or in higher education just trying to make money to survive, the answer is YES! And here’s why.
Now with the wonderful House Bill (HB) 5, at the end of 8th-grade students are being made (yes, made) to pick a career track. I have an 8th grader myself, and let me just say, between not only trying to decide on her endorsement, she’s now trying to decide to go “hyper focus” and pick a magnet school. As a career development specialist and professional, I see what this is doing to our young people. Counselors and school professionals try to take a light approach to this decision in that “It’s just a time to do something you enjoy…it doesn’t need to be your career path forever.” Well, let me just tell you…that is not how it’s being accepted. Whether it’s the parent trying to understand HB5, what does it REALLY mean, can their child change their endorsement (yes and no…depending on how far down the path they are) and what happens if it’s not the right one? Then, on the other hand, we have the 8th grader just trying to figure out who they ARE! How to fit IN! How to not make a big enough mistake in public that ruins their school career FOREVER! Yes, I’m being overdramatic but THIS is where their “interest” is. It’s surviving, not looking 8 years down the road to when they are beginning their first career.
As high school students begin to select their first jobs, I would encourage them to not just “take” a job but “find” a job. Most employers require students to be 16 with a few allowing 15 years olds to work. With the competitiveness of college acceptance, I encourage young adults to find a job that interests them. We, as adults, often think beginning in a restaurant is a rite of passage. While it is a great place to start, if possible, find a first job doing something you are passionate about. When a young adult shows an interest in “Enterprising and Social” and loves children, I might encourage them to start their own company babysitting. If they love children, they can create a business name, design a website, make flyers and company to experience what it’s like to have a startup. It gives them insight into the entire processes and shows uniqueness and hits on their interest in “business and helping others” through their Enterprising and Social outcomes.
My point is…think outside the box. Internships are a hot topic right now and if you’d like to explore that option, identify a company and reach out. Use your teachers to help facilitate a conversation. Look for “jobs” that align with what you’re truly interested in. You NEVER know where this will lead.
The decision to pick jobs that align with your degree is serious, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I can’t tell you how many people I work with on their resumes after college and they have very little volunteer/work experience. Or their work experience has absolutely nothing to do with their degree. When I look at these, I see a major missed opportunity and so do employers. Truly serious students, yes, a generalization but true, are creating a “story of seriousness”.
You must be strategic in picking jobs while pursuing your career. I know money is important. I worked my entire way through college so I get it. But as you select jobs, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does this relate to my degree/major?
2. Am I learning anything that directly relates to my degree and gives me references to draw on later, specifically in an interview situation?
3. Are there opportunities for me to continue with this company IF after graduation, I want to?
4. How can I use this job/internship on my resume to compliment my major, highlighting a correlation between my professional skills?
When it’s time to graduate, having internships or jobs during college can truly be the difference between you getting a position and losing it to someone else. When I review resumes, I love seeing a young person who knew that college needed to be more than just having a good time and getting straight A’s. Ones who decided to get involved, whether paid or volunteering, looked to grow as a young professional and ultimately walked through the door for an interview with enough strong work experience to be articulate.
Being competitive doesn’t mean being miserable, it means asking yourself “Am I doing what I enjoy or am I just getting by?” Learning the difference now can lead you to know your professional path sooner and setting yourself up for job satisfaction as you work your way up to your ideal career.
And as I always say, “Plan Your Work…Work Your Plan!” It matters.