Taking a look at my page on LinkedIn, many people (especially my boyfriend) are quick to point out that I currently hold six jobs. Yes, I know, I'm crazy for doing that to myself. Between spending hours at the office, full days with kids, and weekends writing articles that I hope people actually read, there seems to be little time to study, go to class, and relax. Some people, parents especially, believe that working while in school can drag you down and take up your time, but I'm here to offer reasons why it does just the opposite.
1. You have no choice but to make, and stick to, a schedule.
You initially think that there's no possible way you will be able to fit it all in. But then you buy a planner, import your schedule to Google Calendar, sync it all to your phone, and you start to see all of the gaps in scheduled time that you can start fitting in other things. An hour break between two classes becomes the perfect time to grab lunch with a friend to catch up, and those three hours between your afternoon class and your night class become a serious paper-writing session at Panera.
2. You learn how to say "no."
When your time in precious, and there are not many time slots for relaxation in your schedule, you start saying no to the things that aren't fulfilling. Instead of spending the weekend drinking and sleeping, you decide to dedicate three hours to apple picking, two hours to the library, an hour-long bubble bath, and four hours to catching up on "How to Get Away With Murder," "Scandal," and"Grey's Anatomy". You learn that taking care of yourself has to be a priority, and it's OK to put yourself first.
3. You become a morning person.
With limited hours in the day, waking up 45 minutes earlier than your usual routine means that you're able to review notes while doing your makeup and read The Skimm while eating your breakfast. Gradually, you're getting up with the sun to relax in the quiet moments before your roommates are up and running, and you feel less rushed throughout the day.
4. You get ahead, and stay ahead, with your assignments.
Running back and forth from class to work and back again means that extra time is spent reading your assignments during the week and drafting papers in the library at night. Once you get that first taste of finishing something well before the deadline, you strive for that satisfaction again and again.
5. You make your own money.
It's simple. Working a part-time job for minimum wage won't get you a lot of money, but it will make enough for you to grab drinks with friends a few times a week, go on several dates, and buy that romper from Urban you've had your eye on for months. When you throw in a regular babysitting gig for a day or two, you see even better results. Parents near colleges are always looking for student babysitters and caregivers. Added bonus: you don't have to ask mom to transfer money every week.
6. And (hopefully) learn to manage it.
I'll admit it, the money I made from family at my high school graduation didn't seem to get me very far. The newfound freedom of being able to eat out whenever and wherever I wanted made my bank account take a serious hit. Not to mention buying college textbooks always seemed to take me by surprise. I quickly realized that having a plan for my money was key, and it's OK to spend it on food, but it's also important to save for vacations, a future apartment, a car...whatever your end goal. Try something to get you there. It could be a "hidden from you" savings account into which you automatically transfer money, to a simple excel sheet to track spending, or a sophisticated (free) software like You Need A Budget. Trust me, it's worth it.
7. You build a resume that has more than just education on it.
While some people hold jobs during high school, even more hold jobs during college. Many of my peers seem to think that it's pointless to include something on their resume if it doesn't directly apply to their future career goals, but that is simply not the case. By including all jobs and experience, you are showing time management skills and a wider range of interests than one subject. You're showing part of your personality as well. Trust me when I say that employers are more likely to look at someone with experiences in several different areas than someone who has only one job relevant to their career path or no job at all. Those of us who manage to keep it together under crazy schedules are valuable to companies.
8. You realize that "dream job" just might not be for you.
Going into college, I was an engineering major. I quickly realized that was not for me when I was able to spend my days babysitting, working with high school students applying to the University of Delaware, and struggling through programming all at the same time. I started asking myself why I was sitting through classes that I hated, when I was 10 times more fulfilled making a difference in people's lives. Cue the change of major to something that I know I will be able to help more one-on-one in the future. By expanding your horizons and taking jobs that aren't in your career path, you can open your eyes to other opportunities that might fit your personality all the better.
9. You discover a new sense of accomplishment.
In the desperate attempt to prove everyone wrong and showing them that you can handle this, you realize how strong you are as a person. Your sense of self-worth goes through the roof, and you start to see what happens when a job environment values you as an employee. The more you trust yourself, the more your employers will see that, and subsequently, give you more responsibilities. When you can get a 3.5 GPA, maintain your titles at work, and have a thriving social life, you will never be more proud of yourself.
Don't be afraid. Go out there and apply for that job that piques your interest. You will find a way to make it work, and you will be all the more prepared for the real world because of it.