Working For The First time As A College Freshman
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Working For The First time As A College Freshman

Working on the weekend like usual?

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Working For The First time As A College Freshman

For roughly the first eighteen years of my life, I had amassed a grand total of zero hours of working experience. I had done some occasional side gigs for ten or twenty bucks, picking weeds out of a neighbor's garden and things of that sort, but I had never found myself working a stable part-time job.

Growing up in this American society, I've noticed that it's incredibly common for high schoolers (and even middle schoolers) to begin working several hours a week in a part-time job, while balancing school work at the same time. I've somehow always struggled to wrap my head around how my classmates can balance school with work, and why I seemed to be the only kid who didn't already work a part-time job.

Now that I've gotten a bit older, I realize that there wasn't anything "wrong" with me for not getting work experience a few years earlier like my peers. I also realized I was wrong for thinking that everyone had a part-time job. In fact, there were many kids like me, who opted to focus more on school and extracurriculars.

And while investing loads of time into meaningful extracurriculars pays large dividends, I've come to realize that working a part-time job (like some of my peers in middle and high school) does teach some crucial lessons.

So this fall, during my first semester as a remote college student at UIUC, I applied for a pizza restaurant right across the street from my house. I was offered a position as a front-end receptionist. Here's what I've come away with (so far).

The first thing I noticed was that the reality of work was not like what I had expected it to be. I had always associated "work" with mind-numbing and boring tasks that presumably were also physically taxing. But, in fact, I realized that work took on all different kinds of flavors. Work for the cooks in the kitchen could definitely be more gung-ho, physical labor. Work for a cashier might put more emphasis on communication skills and quick thinking. The concept of work instead took on multiple forms and I saw how different jobs might challenge you in different ways.

I've been working at that pizza shop for a little over a month at this point, but it has been enough time for me to realize several more important things. Firstly, I understand how lucky I am to be in a position where a part-time job is just something optional that I'm doing mostly for the experience; I know that for many of my co-workers in that shop, this job is not optional. They are working long hours, from open to close, to make ends meet. As college students, especially when we are bogged down by schoolwork, we might complain and think that we have it so hard. In reality, we are lucky to be where we are, and we should take full advantage of the opportunities that we have in front of us.

With just five weeks of experience under my belt, I can hardly say that I now understand everything that I've missed out on for the last eighteen non-working years of my life. But I do think that the little bits of truth that I've found while working here have made me realize how lucky I am in many respects. So, perhaps the next time that we find ourselves brutalized by an ominous amount of schoolwork, we should first step back and realize that we get to do what we do. As hard as it is to imagine, we should be grateful for problem sets. We should be grateful for the chance at a great education.

Because it's a chance not everyone has.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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