Going to school while holding down a job has become extremely common for students today. In fact, recent surveys show that over 70% of college students are working part-time or even full-time while pursuing their degrees. This “new normal” stems from rising tuition costs and a competitive job market that values real-world experience.
Although balancing work and studies can be stressful and tiring, there are many advantages to working as a student. Let’s explore how it can help you both professionally and academically.
7 Benefits of Working While You Are a Student
1. Expand Your Professional Network
A job provides opportunities to meet new people and expand your professional network, and these connections can be leveraged in many ways. Your coworkers and supervisors become part of your professional circle who can provide references, recommendations, and referrals that give you an edge in the job market. Maintaining these relationships after you or they move on to new roles expands your network even more. Many students get full-time job offers through internship supervisors or coworkers who are impressed with their abilities. You can also tap into your contacts for insider advice and guidance to help fast-track your career as you navigate the working world. You may even form valuable mentoring relationships through your network.
The broader your work network, the more career opportunities and advancement potential you have down the line.
2. Gain Valuable Work Experience
Work experience shows employers that you can use your skills in a real job. You’ll learn industry-specific terms, software, and practices you can’t learn in school. It is especially helpful for international students who want to learn about American work culture.
As an international student, you can enroll in one of the many day 1 CPT universities to work while studying in the US. CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training, allowing students to work part-time or full-time in a job related to their studies.
Getting work experience in a given profession helps confirm if it aligns with your interests and strengths. The experience can solidify your passions or reveal that it may not be the right direction after all. Either way, you gain useful insights before fully committing to a career post-graduation. On-the-job experience gives you a major advantage over other new grads, with only academic knowledge when it is time to launch your career.
3. Strengthen Time Management
Juggling the demands of work and academics simultaneously requires strong time management skills. When you balance school and a job, you quickly learn the importance of organization. Making schedules, calendars, and to-do lists becomes essential to keep track of everything on your plate and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
The workload and stress levels encountered while working and studying simultaneously also bolster your resilience, mental stamina, and ability to manage pressure. It will enable you to thrive in future high-demand work settings. Being able to juggle competing priorities is a highly attractive skill for managers looking to hire.
4. Earn Extra Income
In addition to gaining professional experience, working enables students to earn supplemental income to help cover college expenses. With higher education’s skyrocketing costs today, students rely more on employment to help make ends meet. Many work to pay for necessities like food, housing, and course materials so they can graduate with less debt. Others work to gain extra spending money for entertainment, clothes, travel, and other purchases. Building savings through work is wise, too, as it provides a financial cushion for unexpected expenses.
Whatever your earnings goals, bringing in additional income from a job can significantly offset educational costs and reduce reliance on family support or loans.
5. Apply Classroom Learning
A job allows you to take theories and lessons from lectures and assignments and see how they apply in real workplace settings. For instance, psychology students may get to shadow therapist sessions with actual patients. The hands-on application of classroom concepts cements your learning and comprehension.
You also gain clarity about how your major prepares you for a career by directly observing professionals in action. This helps reinforce the relevance of your studies and keeps you motivated. Additionally, applying your knowledge builds confidence and readiness to use those skills in a future job after graduation.
6. Develop Soft Skills
While academics build your technical expertise, a work environment allows you to hone crucial soft skills required to succeed in any field. For example, you’ll polish your written and verbal communication skills through emails, reports, presentations, and conversations with co-workers. Team projects and group meetings let you practice collaboration and conflict-resolution skills. Customer interactions test your patience, empathy, and problem-solving skills.
Learning to give and receive feedback professionally is another soft skill gained from on-the-job experience. Having opportunities to exercise these “people skills” prepares you for the nuanced human side of any workplace.
7. Enjoy Greater Independence
Earning a paycheck provides students with a greater sense of independence and control over their finances. Working allows you to pay bills and expenses instead of relying on your parents for money. The ability to pay your own way fosters responsibility and pride.
Working also enables students to move out of their homes and transition towards adulthood. Covering rent, utility bills, grocery costs, and other living expenses yourself is empowering. Student employment teaches valuable real-world money management skills, such as budgeting, saving, and tracking your expenses. T
Working while studying can be challenging, but it is a worthwhile investment. Students who work gain valuable real-world experience, develop job skills, and make professional connections. They also learn how to manage their time effectively and how to balance their priorities. These are all skills that are essential for success in the workplace.
In addition to the practical benefits, working while studying can help students develop a sense of responsibility and work ethic. It can also teach them how to deal with stress and work under pressure. These are all qualities that will make them more attractive to employers.
Of course, working while studying is not easy. It requires a lot of time and effort. But the rewards are worth it.