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The Daily Illini

The importance of part-time and summer jobs

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

Harrison Lindholm, Staff writer

It can be difficult for students who are sure of their career aspirations, who have a dream job cemented into their psyche, to know what first steps to take to reach their goals. I believe that taking a low-level job or part-time job in the field you wish to go into is an excellent first step.

By assuming a low-level job you are getting your foot in the door. Additionally, you are showing interest in the industry. You can learn a lot about how the industry is run by being a cog in the machine. A waiter can easily learn about the restaurant business by simply observing the people around him.

I know I have learned a lot about the complications of owning and renting apartments from my experience as a maintenance man doing odd jobs in an apartment complex. This means that when I begin my career in real estate investing, I will already have practical knowledge of it. This will put me at an advantage to those who have only been exposed to real estate within a classroom.

   Students who are not sure of their future can also learn a lot from a summer job or from a job on campus. It is possible that you could find something that you are passionate about through a low-level job as well. More importantly, essential workplace values such as a good work ethic, an ability to work well with others and an understanding of how to interact with customers can be developed when working at any job.

Although I do not currently have a job, I have learned a lot about the nature of work while in high school. I had a job at a pizzeria during my senior year. I answered the telephone, took orders, made dressings and ran the cash register. On the surface, this job I had for only a year seems simple, but I gained many lifelong lessons from my experience. Every so often, a pizza would be made for a customer, and it would not be what he or she wanted. Whether that be pepperoni instead of sausage, or deep dish instead of thin crust, it would always annoy the customer (rightfully so).

Unfortunately, it takes another thirty minutes to correct the order and make a replacement pizza. I quickly discovered how to address a disgruntled customer in the most respectful way I could. I know this skill will be an advantage to me, no matter the career I pursue.

In addition to skills that will help me in the workplace, my job at the pizzeria taught me a bit about life, which is something that high school and college has not. The other phone operators came from all walks of life. I worked with a diverse group, from other high school students like myself, to a man whose decisions and misfortunes had left him homeless. His part-time income from the pizza job was his entire income. Another worker had child support he had to pay. He was working two jobs to cover his and his child’s living expenses. I saw economic disparity impacting  the people I cared about. As I go through life, not only do I appreciate the situation I am in, but I have more sympathy for those who have less.

Having a job that doesn’t directly push you ahead in your career is not a bad thing, but can help evolve you into a more complex and experienced person. I urge you to get a job if you haven’t had one. It will help you more than you can imagine.

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