5 Career Skills Developed in Group Projects

By: Whitney

Oh no! The dreaded two words revered and feared throughout the land of colleges and universities: group projects. I’ve heard many a student complain about group projects, and while we all have probably had our fair share of group project horror stories, these groups are a potential goldmine for developing many soft skills needed to flourish in our future careers. Of the top 10 skills and qualities employers seek in job candidates from National Association of Colleges & Employers, ability to work in a team is ranked number two. Plus, I would say the top five skills on their list can be learned through group work. Call me crazy, but I actually like group projects (provided everyone pulls their weight) and here are some reasons why.

5 Career skills developed in group projects

Combine your Strengths with the Strengths of Others
Chances are on a group project or team you will work with people who have different strengths than you do and will have slightly different perspectives and knowledge bases. This diversity can lead to better solutions to problems and higher quality work than an individual might have been able to accomplish on their own. This is one of the things I like best about working on group projects. For instance, I can be a very detail-oriented person, sometimes I find that I have trouble starting projects because I am hung up on the details. My group members for my psychology research project were able to get us started with basic ideas for our research paper, then I was able to refine it by adding necessary details and rephrasing sentences so ideas were conveyed more clearly.

Improve Understanding
Sometimes at school and work, you just don’t understand something, and collaboration in a group means you have access to knowledge that is outside of yourself. Asking a peer for explanation can be less intimidating, and they also may explain it in a different way you grasp more quickly. I have also found that when you teach something you are better able to understand it yourself. I understood the concepts in my communication class better after discussing it with my group members, talking about them until we came to a satisfactory understanding. This also helps you develop the communication skills needed to collaborate with others.

Break Down Tasks and Delegate Responsibilities
“Many hands make light work” and whatnot. Beyond the obvious potential benefits of dividing up work, the ability to break down tasks and delegate responsibilities are vital skills within organizations. While you may not be interested in taking a leadership position, these skills display a couple of leadership abilities too. I’ve been in groups where we meet and do all the work during meetings. In my most recent series of group projects (accomplished with the same group) we chose to meet, outline what we were going to do (break down tasks), and divide up the work, before a final meeting to pull it all cohesively together.

Practice with Feedback
Feedback is a huge part of the working world, and it is important for us to practice how to receive it professionally (as well as give feedback). In one part of my group project series, I volunteered to take the analysis part of the paper (which is potentially the most important), only to struggle with what to come up with. I met with my group told them of my struggles and they gave me feedback, positive and negative, on what I wrote. Negative feedback is not always easy to hear, but the feedback gave me a jumping off point for us to collaborate and make the paper better.

Conflict Resolution
When you work with others there is always the potential for conflict, which means there is always the potential for creative conflict resolution. In almost every group project you will work with people you have never met before, while I have never been in an academic work group that was fraught with conflict, both conflict resolution and relationship building skills are important for work and for life. You can use these group project experiences and what you learned from them as examples in interviews to answer questions like “tell us about a time when you solved a problem,” “worked with someone different from you?”, or “resolved a conflict?”

Conclusion
The Harvard Business Review collected data which shows “over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more” (Cross, Rebele, Grant, 2016 as cited in Duhigg, 2016). So love ‘em or hate ‘em, it looks like we aren’t getting out of group projects any time soon. Group projects are valid experiences, that have the potential to hone your soft skills. If you’re interested, you can check out a more extensive list of benefits of group projects. And if you’re a nerd about people and human behavior, like me, or simply a fan of Google, you can check out an awesome New York Times article about their “quest to build the ‘perfect’ team”.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Kelli Tungay

Handling Physical Disabilities in College & the Workplace

By: Whitney

College students, especially those leaving home for the first time, experience a whole lot of new things—new school, new friends, new interests—and many firsts. Like many students, I felt uncertainty, anxiety, and excitement about these things. One area of uncertainty for me was how to handle my physical disability as an adult. I had additional questions about jobs such as: How physically demanding they would be? Would employers be hesitant to hire me or underestimate me? After some time, I decided I needed to acknowledge my Cerebral Palsy (CP) related uncertainties and find ways to address them. I can’t speak for everyone with a physical disability nor everyone with CP. How I want to address the impact of CP in my adult life is a process I am still figuring out and I wanted to share my journey with you all up to this point.

Overview of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is really an umbrella term describing a group of conditions that affect balance, movement of the body, and muscle coordination resulting from damage to the brain (specifically motor areas). It is not genetic and is said to be not progressive (United Cerebral Palsy, 2010 as cited in Whidden, 2013). However, as the body changes throughout life, I have also noticed changes in my experiences with CP. Additionally, because the brain is exceedingly complex, and people are unique, everyone with CP experiences it differently, yet some of our experiences may be similar.

I have had CP since birth, a mild form that makes my leg muscles tighter than average. I have a touchy sense of balance and needed the support of a walker to get around until partway through elementary school when I had a surgery to improve my muscle tone. In middle school, I started having muscle spasms in my legs that started to make things more difficult. These get worse with high—levels of stress, nervousness, or if I need to stand still for long periods of time.

Four Areas I’ve Worked On

Self-advocation
In my journey to learn how to handle concerns related to my disability in the workplace, one of the best tools I have is self-advocation. The best way to learn how to self-advocate is to do it. Sometimes I wouldn’t go after opportunities that appealed to me because I was uncertain about if I would be physically able to handle them. I have learned that uncertainty is part of it. For me, self-advocation means question asking. When I feel uncertainty, I pinpoint the specific reasons I feel uncertain and find out what information I can related to those issues by asking questions. After getting more information, I can then evaluate an opportunity more accurately. If it still interests me after that, then I go for it, asking for accommodations if necessary. The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability has useful tips about self-advocacy.

Self-advocation, while empowering, can also be tiring. One important thing to note is that being a self-advocate doesn’t mean handling things alone. It’s helpful to have people around to help too! Which brings me to my next point.

Handling physical disabilities in the college and the workplace

Community
In most situations, I am the only person I know who has CP. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like the I’m only one dealing with these concerns. Finding a community of trustworthy people, who are dealing with similar things has been helpful for me, and can be found in many ways. On campus, getting involved with Disability Resources is one way. I have found community by joining Facebook groups specifically related to CP. People of many ages and many experiences with CP are part of these groups and I have gotten to read posts about some of their experiences in life and in the workplace and some CP related questions they have.

In relation to the workforce, community can also mean seeking out stories of individuals with any disability in the workforce and learning about what jobs they are doing and how they handled entry into and daily activities of the workforce. This summer I got to hear a little bit about an elementary school teacher who was also blind and her approach to her job. To hear of other individuals living with disabilities doing work in a human services job (a field related closely to my interests) was encouraging. It reminded me that there are multiple great ways to do a job and be effective.

Accommodation
Figuring out reasonable accommodations and having conversations about them is an area I’m still trying to figure out. Frankly, sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to need, especially before I’ve started the work. Sometimes I know that something presents a problem for me but am not sure how to solve it. Sometimes I am hesitant at asking for accommodation because I’m afraid of being underestimated. I have recently discovered JAN (the Job Accommodation Network). Which lists possible workplace accommodations for many different disabilities (physical and otherwise) as well as questions employers could ask to help pinpoint what accommodations may be helpful (I think they are questions I could ask myself as well). One of the suggestions for CP was a sit stand stool a lightweight foldable stool I could carry around with me for when I need to sit. Something I hadn’t considered using in the workplace before but could be extremely helpful for me.

Self-disclosure
For some people, the disability they live with is readily apparent to others and for some, it’s not. I’m in a grey area where people can see something different about me but don’t necessarily know straight away about the disability. Self-disclosure then becomes a question. If I want to self-disclose and when to do it. My self-disclosure choices have changed throughout the years. I have always remained very open about disability and my life but choose to self-disclose significantly less often these days than I did when I was in middle school and high school. In college, I have re-evaluated when I want to self-disclose and chose not to tell people about it unless they respectfully asked. In job situations, I have also only disclosed when I came across something I thought I would need accommodation for. I have sometimes disclosed in applications, during interviews, on the job, and for some positions, I haven’t disclosed at all.

Current Thoughts
Everyone has so many unique skills and perspectives to offer in life, including the workforce. My experiences with CP have given me many opportunities for creative problem solving, finding a new way to accomplish tasks, and practice adaptability. Disability is one aspect of my life and making decisions about how I want to approach this part of my life has given me more confidence. These decisions are not set in stone and can always be revisited as my needs and ideas change.

For all my uncertainties about having these conversations within the workplace or during college, all the people I have ever talked to have been respectful and willing to help me.

Of Possible Interest:

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Felix Plakolb

Spotlight: Kirby Leadership Institute

By: Whitney

“I don’t really see myself as a leader” I would say to myself. Leaders take charge, head up organizations, and they have the confidence to handle that type of responsibility. Leading flows out of them naturally. One day my friend said to me, “you’re looking at it wrong.”

During my first year at UMD, I experienced a dip in confidence, after all the fun and excitement of a new school and new adventure wore off. What can I do to build up my confidence? Well, I thought, who do I think is confident? Leaders. Next, I found myself sitting in a chair at the CEHSP advising office asking if there were any courses in leadership, even outside of my psychology major. My advisor pointed me in the direction of UMD’s Kirby Leadership Institute (KLI). After asking lots of questions, and being assured that there was no penalty if I ended up not completing the requirements, I joined. I’m so glad I did, and here are my top five reasons to join (in no particular order).

Gain hands-on experience and build skills
KLI is a co-curricular certificate program at UMD and is FREE of charge to ANY UMD undergraduate who wants to participate. Kirby Leadership emphasizes diversity and inclusion, as well as hands-on experience with leadership through service in the community, both at UMD and in Duluth. When asked why volunteering is important to Leadership, Joie Acheson Lee, Associate Director for Leadership Development, and Coordinator for the Kirby Leadership Institute stated, “volunteering helps you practice [your leadership] skills and gain experience” in your field. As a college student who as spent most of my life inside a classroom, sometimes it can be hard to see myself as anything more than a student. Getting outside of the classroom, as a peer mentor, and in other roles, helped me put my learning into practice and helped me expand my view of myself as more than just a student.

"For me, KLI was the push I needed to step outside my comfort zone and take a more active role in the communities I was a part of." - Whitney

Confidence and community involvement
Using your strengths helps you grow and build on them. Talking with Joie, it is very clear that KLI is passionate about empowering students and young adults. Joie says “we want students and young adults [to] have a sense of their own worth.” The fact that we bring unique experiences, skills, and abilities to all our endeavors. For me, KLI was the push I needed to step outside my comfort zone and take a more active role in the communities I was a part of. It opened my eyes to the opportunities out there that fit my interests and I could bring my skill set to. Being more invested in the community helped me meet so many awesome people and become aware of the power I had to impact my community and my life. They also emphasize equity, diversity, and inclusion helping individuals to become more aware of others and more inclusive in how they lead.

Receive recognition for things you already do
One thing I have learned while in KLI is there is not just one way to be “a leader.” Leading is about doing what you can where you are to help others and the community. KLI sees everyone as leaders and believes there are leadership opportunities in every field. KLI provides a way for you to document the leadership activities you are already involved in or will be during college. With its emphasis on community involvement, any unpaid work you do is considered volunteering both on and off campus. This can include practicums, job shadowing, unpaid internships for your major/field, and taking a leadership role within a club or on-campus. Many of us will do one or more of these things as part of our college career and the Leadership Institute wants us to see how valuable these activities are in shaping us as leaders within our fields.

It’s self-driven and 100% tailored to you
KLI is a co-curricular activity and not a minor, which affords it the ability to really tailor your leadership experiences to who you are, what you’re interested in, and the strengths you have and want to build on. When I first thought of leaders, I automatically thought, those are the people who go into things like management. I didn’t think there were many ways someone with a psychology major could exercise leadership. I am interested in helping people, so I have picked opportunities in line with those interests. Also, you have your entire college career to work towards the leadership certificate AND because much of it includes things you already would be doing throughout college regardless, it is achievable!

Top 5 reasons to join Kirby Leadership Institute

The leadership portfolio
Any activities you are involved in throughout college can be a springboard for your future. KLI has crafted the program with that knowledge in mind. After completing the program, they help you create a portfolio of all your leadership experiences while in college. Not only is it cool to look back and realize all you have accomplished, it is something you can leave with potential employers at job interviews. When asked what experience you have or how you have demonstrated leadership, you can only speak for so long. The leadership portfolio is a document that speaks loudly and clearly about your skills and abilities and how you have gained and used them. The leadership portfolio cannot replace a well-crafted resume, it does enhance it though; and as an addition to your resume, it can help you stand out. The leadership portfolio is something unique, created at UMD for UMD students. Employers see thousands of resumes, chances are they haven’t seen a leadership portfolio.

LEADERSHIP—WHAT IS IT ANYWAY?

I 100% guarantee you, you are already leading. Joie’s take on it is that “Leadership is the ability to influence others,” a set of skills that can be learned and not something that is just for the few. If you think about it everyone has influence in someone’s life. Siblings influence each other, friends influence friends, you influence yourself and the choices you make. Leading doesn’t have to look a certain way and leaders don’t have to be alike. “There are as many styles of leadership as there are leaders,” Joie says. I joined KLI simply because I didn’t see myself as a leader. Joining has broadened my understanding of leadership and encouraged me to see it in new ways. It has helped me give myself more credit for the work that I do and increased my confidence by pushing me out of my comfort zone. Whether you are part of KLI or not, I hope you to see the value you bring to everything you’re a part of, and if you don’t see yourself as a leader, I encourage you to look again.

Learn more about the Kirby Leadership Institute and the Leadership Certificate.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Fred Russo & Hope House Press

Turning Your Internship Into a Job

By: Whitney

Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post about my experience as the C&IS Intern. After loving my internship, I was reluctant to leave, so I’m back in a new role at the front desk! If you are going into an internship or want to turn your internship into a job, I’ve highlighted a few tips below to help you capitalize on this opportunity. Forbes and The Wishington Post (Washington Intern Student Housing) have also offered up some tips so that you can turn your internship into a job as well.

Transitioning your internship into a job truly starts with your internship. Ever heard sayings like “an internship is really just a drawn-out interview”? The heart of the matter is that how you behave as an intern is an indication to your supervisor and co-workers what it may be like to work with you as official staff. The process of being an intern doesn’t need to be as nerve-wracking as an interview, however.

TIPS

  1. Your internship IS your job. This means doing things like showing up on time consistently, dressing the part, and saying goodbye to personal social media while at work. Being new in any job has its moments of discomfort, but chances are you have been building these foundational skills for professionalism for years before this.
  2. Get to know all of your colleagues and fellow interns. This is code for networking. This part is scariest for me. In my first real job, my workplace would occasionally hold picnics for the daycare staff, students, and their families to attend. I was never required to go, but wish that I would have. Going would have given me an opportunity to build stronger relationships with the parents and staff, instead of simply knowing them on a more superficial level. Working together means seeing those people every day for a number of months, or years, so working becomes its own community (a professional one). Doing so will make you a part of the office and is also helpful in getting a job post-internship.
  3. One of the things The Wishington Post recommended, is to have a professional mentor within the workplace. Someone you feel comfortable with that can help you transition between student intern to employee. In my internship, that person was mainly my site supervisor. She was a great person to ask questions of and helped me to make sure I was learning about the field as well as the specific areas I was interested in.
  4. Ask questions and take initiative. Sometimes people don’t ask questions for fear of looking incompetent, but good question asking shows that you are interested and willing to learn. Asking about opportunities is something that can help you in and outside of your internship. Instead of waiting for work to be handed to you ask to be involved, without overexerting yourself. Forbes suggests you familiarize yourself with other departments as well. This may be helpful if, like me, your job ends up being a slightly different role than your internship. Asking about additional opportunities after my internship is how I found out about the front desk.

If you have an internship, congratulations! Know that the company chose you as much as you chose to work for the company. You are there to learn and also have many valuable skills to bring to the table! Your work as an intern is important.

And because I am such a fan of motivational quotes here is one to inspire you:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”—Nelson Mandela

Of Possible Interest: 

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Career Counseling Internship

By: Whitney

As the semester is winding down, so is my internship, sadly. Luckily, I will be back next year filling another role in the office. Here is a glimpse into my journey as a C&IS intern.

WHY I CHOSE TO INTERN
There are many reasons I chose to do an internship for credit this semester. Number one, I wanted to gain experience in a psychology related field to assess if I really wanted to go into this field. Number two, with all the other demands of being a college student, I knew if I didn’t have a class to help me set deadlines and keep on track in the process of actually getting the internship I probably wouldn’t prioritize it. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be interning in Career Counseling, I started my degree wanting to go into human services with children and families. Going through college, however, I started to get to know myself more, take on challenges, and grow. One of these opportunities was my role as a peer mentor for transfer students. After being involved with that program I realized that I was open to working with a broader range of people than only children and that I really enjoyed working with college students. I followed my interests, discovered this internship through the psychology department, and the rest is history.

WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT
What I’ll miss most about it (at least while I’m gone over the summer) is the people. I spent about nine hours a week with the employees of the C&IS office and I loved getting to know them! The professional relationships you build with co-workers is important for way more than just networking. They are what makes up the work environment and office culture. Every workplace is unique. With C&IS office I think I hit the jackpot. The office is very open and welcoming, I would describe it as being a “professional family.” I looked forward to coming to work because I enjoyed the work I was doing and the people I was doing the work with. If I had one without the other it would have been incomplete. In the 40-hour-work-week world, office culture becomes even more important.

CHALLENGES AND ADVICE I WOULD GIVE MYSELF
The first few days in a new job are always a little nerve-wracking, soon enough though I got to know people in the office and settled into my role. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like. Looking back on my experiences I would tell myself to jump into my role sooner even if I was a little unsure. I would also tell myself to ask about shadowing career counseling appointments and set them up earlier on in the internship.

Keep respectful communication between you and your supervisors, let them know what you are hoping to learn through the experience and collaborate on how to make it happen. Advocating for yourself is important, employees are busy and sometimes you need to ask if you could join in on something rather than waiting for someone to suggest it for you. And remember, you are there to learn. It’s fine to ask questions if you have them, just don’t hound people with questions.

Sometimes things are a little outside your comfort zone. Prime example: me writing for the C&IS blog. It can be tough to put your work out there for people to read, because who knows how it will be received. I also have never written for a blog before, much less one tied to an official organization. My advice would be to jump on those opportunities anyway because they could lead to something amazing.

CAREER COUNSELING
Another main reason I wanted to intern with C&IS was to see if career counseling and/or higher ed were fields I could see myself going into in the future. What is the profession like? What is it all about? I learned there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on in a career counseling office, from setting up and attending job fairs, to classes and presentations, to making sure C&IS is providing their clients with the help that they are seeking. I also learned that there is so much to know as a career counselor and it is not possible to know it all. Which just means that if an answer is unknown they put on their sleuthing hats and help the client find the needed info.

Another thing to mention, we are not alone if we ever feel anxious about our career journey or what decisions to make. We are all in the same boat with that, and while career counselors can’t tell you what exactly to do with “the rest of your life,” they can certainly help you clarify what is important to you at this point in your life and assist you in assessing your options.

CONCLUSION
Internships can be a fantastic way to gain an understanding of what you want to do in your future career and even not so great experiences can teach you this as well. I really enjoyed my internship and I discovered that career counseling is something I could see myself doing in the future. It pushed me a little out of my comfort zone at times, helped me grow in confidence in my ability to navigate being a part of the professional working world and allowed me to meet some wonderful people and make some fond memories!

Of Possible Interest

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5 Things I Learned “Off the Beaten Path”

By: Whitney

“Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed”
Misty Copeland

“What’s your major?” “What do you want to do with that?” “What year in school are you?” The age-old college questions asked by everyone. And if you are not tired of them yet, you might be by the end of your college career. Then there is the typical college advice about getting involved and resume builders. Even with all that, it can still be tough deciding what to do for majors/careers. During my senior year of high school I decided to scrap my life plan, which was to be an elementary school teacher. This threw me into serious uncertainty about seemingly everything. What was I going to do now, and how did I know it was a good decision? After I ran out of generals to take I still wasn’t sure. I ended up taking time off before transferring to UMD, as a psychology/communication double major. Recently, I read a 2014 post from Business Insider titled, “The Best Advice College Students Never Hear”, written by Maggie Zhang and it got me thinking about some of the more “obscure” things I’ve learned so far during college and the unconventional path I took.

Path in Forest

FOLLOW WHAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN
If you are interested in a gazillion things like me this may be a tougher one. But if you are interested in something you do not need to put off learning about it. One of my roommates is a chemistry major with a theater minor. That may seem like a ‘weird’ combination to the outside observer, but they are both things she enjoys.

This idea also applies to decisions outside of choosing a major to choosing jobs and activities; in her post, Zhang also talks about building you, not your resume. I look at it like this, it’s important to build your resume (and get help constructing it), but a resume is also a document about you as a person. Are YOU excited to talk about what is on your resume? Gaining experience JUST because it looks good on a resume may not pay off in the end. Employers can tell when you are enthusiastic about what you have done and that speaks volumes in an interview.

MAKE THE MOST OF WHERE YOU ARE AT
Making the most of where you are at does not mean having to “do it all”. Like all seasons of life, college is a unique experience. By taking time off, I realized that college may be one of the last times traditional undergrads may be around people their age frequently. Zhang’s advice was to spend more time on your relationships than on your studies. While I do not know if I agree with that, I do agree that studies are equally as important as having quality relationships and experiences with friends. While this is a continual process, now is a great time to start figuring out a work-life balance that you can be satisfied with.

USE YOUR RESOURCES
This is one of the most important ones. Ask questions. Ask for help. If you don’t know something, say you don’t. There are so many resources available to us on a college campus to meet many diverse needs, why not use them. Don’t know what you want to major in? Talk to a career counselor, take a career and major exploration class. Unsure about entering the workforce? Get help writing your resume and/or practice interviewing. Advocating for yourself is a great skill to have at any part of life, and it’s a skill that can be built now. My best friend’s mom told me to ask myself “who has the information I need?” and go talk to them. If you are not sure, start with the best place you know to start.

GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
This applies to so many areas of life. The first time I remember realizing I didn’t know myself very well, was when I took an art class my senior year of high school. I was like a fish out of water and only would have considered myself an artist if drawing stick figures counted. By the end of the semester I discovered I was good at drawing and watercolor painting! So try new things even if you are not sure how it will go. One of the things I wish I would have done more is taken a range of diverse classes when completing my generals instead of sticking just to what I felt comfortable with.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD
At the outset, I had never planned on studying psychology or communication. I hadn’t planned on interning for Career and Internship Services. I thought I wanted to work with kids all day every day. But I knew I enjoyed psychology and communication, and then I got the opportunity to peer mentor for transfer students, where I found I really liked helping students figure college out—now I’m the C&IS intern. In college and out, life unfolds from a series of smaller decisions. You don’t have to know everything to make a good decision. You know enough and it’s probably more than you think.

Above all:
know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed
– Misty Copeland

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo source: Unsplash | Paul Jarvis

The Pros & Cons of On and Off-Campus Jobs (Part 2)

By: Whitney

Throughout my time in college I have experienced the unique aspects, triumphs and challenges, of both on and off-campus jobs. Previously, I covered a few pros and cons of on-campus jobs, and as I love sharing my learning experiences, I have also compiled a list of a few pros and cons of off-campus jobs for round two.

Off-campus jobs

PROS OF OFF-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Wages could potentially be higher than on-campus jobs
    Again, this varies from job to job, but chances are greater that an off-campus job will pay more than minimum wage.
  2. Gets you off campus
    I LOVE my campus! But let’s be honest, when you haven’t left it for a while you can start to get a little cabin feverish. People from back home ask you what things are like in your college’s surrounding city and you wonder if you even know anymore. Working off-campus is one way to get you out and about in the surrounding community. Also, any job is great for networking, but off-campus jobs provide an excellent way to network with people in the surrounding community.
  3. There could be more opportunities for a job related to your field of interest
    If you find a job related to your field, it is a great way to see if this is really the field for you. Working in an afterschool program/daycare I got A LOT of unexpected and great hands on experience with child and school psychology work. I would not trade what I learned there for anything, but I also found out that working with kids daily can be draining, and it helped me decide if I wanted to do that kind of work as a career. Jobs can solidify your choices, give you more to think about, and if you decide you want to go in a different direction that is invaluable knowledge as well.

CONS OF OFF-CAMPUS JOBS

  1. Scheduling could be more difficult
    Off-campus jobs do not automatically take time off for school breaks, and you might be competing for time off with other co-workers during these times or high-stress weeks like finals week. I recommend asking for time off well in advance when possible. Although each job has varying levels of flexibility. My job in retail was more flexible with scheduling than my daycare job, which was scheduled five days a week for the same block of time each day.
  2. Transportation
    With an off-campus job you are going to need reliable transportation, whether it be by car or by bus. Commute times might be longer, which also takes time out of your day. My commute to my off-campus job was 20 minutes one way. Which adds up to a little over three hours a week. I did not mind it, but I could have also used that time to study, be part of a club, or hang out with friends throughout freshman year. Also, my freshman year I got in a car accident that totaled my car. I had to find rides to my off-campus job for a few weeks until I could get a new car. Needless to say, the ordeal was a hassle, and there were a few times I had to call in saying I couldn’t come in simply because I couldn’t find a ride that day. (I hope this never happens to you, but it was an eye-opening experience of just how important reliable transportation truly is in daily life).
  3. Shifts will probably be longer
    Because on-campus jobs are generally more flexible and close, you could potentially fit the same number of hours in in-between classes over shorter shifts than with an off-campus job. Shifts for work off-campus will probably be in four or eight hour blocks of time, which mean that your time management may need to be tighter.

WHAT NOW?
All things considered, working during school, whether on-campus or off, can be a beneficial experience. Both give you great knowledge and skills, build your resume, and teach time management. Of the two, one is not inherently “better” than the other. One may just fit your needs better than the other. Each person has their own amount of activities they can put on their plate without being overly stressed. So, look at what you need. Maybe you need the greater flexibility afforded by an on-campus job because you are involved in campus clubs and organizations too, or you want more time to study and still have time to sleep and hang out with friends. Maybe you really want to get involved in the surrounding community, so you go for an off-campus job. You are also going to want to consider the job itself.

Your needs/wants may also change down the line and you can always change what you are doing. The most important thing is that you enjoy the job you are doing and are still able to have the work-life balance you want.

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