Getting A Job: Experience Versus Income
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Getting A Job: Experience Versus Income

Experience or money? Are internships and making money mutually exclusive for a college student?

Getting A Job: Experience Versus Income

Get an education. Go to school full time. Study for grad school entry exams. Research grad schools. Visit the career center. Create a resumé. Build your resumé. Network. Schedule informational interviews. Oh, and while you are at it, please pay the tens of thousands of dollars for said education.

We have all been there, at a crossroads between spending time to make money and an education. If you are like me, you have chosen the later. As a full time student however, my at-school small part time job, that my schedule hardly allows, is just barely enough to cover beer money and the occasional Dunks run to support my habits of fun and caffeine.

When summer rolls around, I am at the end of my bank account, paying for my dunks with change I found under my run down, pizza stained, uncomfortable futon. Come may, I am determined to make back the money I lost over the year, and make enough to be financially comfortable during the school year. However strong the pressure to make money during the summer, the pressure is equally strong to find an internship to substantiate your resumé. After all, isn't the point of college to be able to build a career?

Experience is necessary, but then again, so is money.

The majority of internships are unpaid, and have high demands. If you are lucky enough to find an internship that is funded, the pay is usually minimal. The demand for internships is constantly high, and with minimal positions available, internships are often highly competitive. When you are granted an internship position, it becomes difficult to decide if the value of experience and learning is feasible, and more valuable then making decent money over the summer. Most of the time, positions life guarding, waiting tables, bartending, or even in retail pay better than internships. These positions are not nothing to brag about to future employers, but certainly will help fund your education and lifestyle for the year coming more than an internship would.

Internships are not only a great way to build experience, but also give you a taste first hand of the field you hope to enter one day. Whether you love or hate your internship, it will certainly help guide you in the direction you want to go in your career. Having experience in the field you want to enter into is a crucial aspect of any resumé. While you might have a great GPA and lots of campus involvement, if you have done nothing directly related to your field, future employers will have a difficult time justifying your hire. This is invaluable to a student, and certainly can help you direct your education and future plans.

This said, you still need money to fund the education that you need to get anywhere. If you cannot pay for your classes and living expenses, internships and future employment become irrelevant. To me, this is reason enough to continue working, and put internships on the back-burner if necessary.

While it may seem like having an internship and making money are mutually exclusive, I have found that with a little (or a lot) of extra work, you can usually continue that internship and continue working. While this occasionally means working a shift 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. in the same day, it is worth it when you see your resumé getting longer and feel your pockets getting heavier. To avoid this, I would also recommend applying early and often to internships, far in advance, in hopes of securing a prime, (hopefully paid) position.

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