There are two types of people, one that wants the complete college experience, and another who wants to go to college simply for a degree. Growing up I always thought that, yes, I want to live in the dorms and join clubs and go to sporting events and take classes that I would get all A's in. It didn't occur to me until my freshman year of college that maybe I didn't like the whole "college life" cliché.
I decided that the dorms were only for sleeping at night, not socializing. Sporting events? Still have not made it to an event up to my junior year. Clubs? Not really my thing. Getting A's? That drove me to get a job alongside working hard in my classes.
1. Work gave me an extra purpose that placed new goals in my life. I was not just going to school and to obtain good grades, I was also contributing to society by working.
2. My schedule was so tightly packed that I had to learn how to manage my time wisely. I learned the importance of deadlines and how to meet them quickly, yet efficiently.
3. I had extra spending money that I could use towards things I wanted. There was no awkward feeling in asking my parents for money all the time.
4. Being financially stable, whether or not that means paying half your bills or all of them, is a great feeling. I knew that if I worked hard and put my mind to it, I could provide for myself consistently.
5. It seems prestigious to go to school and juggle work. Future employers see from my resumé that when I was attending college classes, I also had job commitments. By keeping good grades and regular work, I can be seen as a hard and diligent worker.
6. Variety. If you choose to work during college, you get to apply for a range of start-up jobs that may be entirely different from your actual degree. I tried out retail, way different than nursing, but it gave me the knowledge of another profession.
7. Experience is another benefit of a job(s) while still in school. Each of my jobs: dance teacher, salesperson, front desk person, intern, etc. all taught me skills that shaped me as a person. I was forced to learn skills on the job and apply them.
8. Work also served as a distraction for me. When life was tough or I needed to take my eyes off a situation, I found I was able to direct my energy into the task at hand instead of worrying or stressing about a particular situation.
9. Deep down, I also needed to prove myself. I don't just mean prove myself to other people, but prove to myself that I could balance my education and work.
10. In the end, I kept up the two commitments because I was proud of myself. There is a huge sense of accomplishment when you know you have figured out how to make both priorities work for you.
I am a huge advocate for starting with a job young and as scary as it may seem now to take on a commitment that large, it will shape you as a person in ways that I guarantee you will be thankful for down the road.