Learning to Work is Important Too

I watched a segment on the Today Show about how many teenagers and young twenty-somethings are choosing coursework over summer jobs. They believe taking on additional classes will better prepare them for their future careers and feel it is more productive than taking on a menial restaurant, service or retail job.

Though it is great they are not spending their summer breaks loafing around and doing nothing, I am not convinced they are actually learning more from books than a traditional summer job might be able to teach them. I spent my highschool and college summers working at a marina. I cleaned bathrooms, scrubbed boats, sorted bait, arranged rentals and managed a small convenience store. The job had nothing to do with my planned career path. What I learned over those summers was invaluable, however. Books and classes don’t offer an opportunity to learn team strategies, patience, flexibility with job functions and people skills.

As a professional recruiter, I often encountered new grads with excellent grades and zippo preparedness for how to succeed in the real work world. Because they are getting their feet wet in the working world with professional level jobs, the performance expectations are higher and the allowed learning curves are shorter. Employers are more forgiving of a $7/hr employee who needs to hone his/her basic work skills than they are of the $20+/hr employee who is struggling with being a reliable team player who can problem solve an effectively deal with a variety of personalities.

4 Responses to “Learning to Work is Important Too”

  1. Holly says:

    OMG! I totally agree! I did those menial jobs, waitress, tennis instructor, caddy, bartender, retail sales, etc. to get me through high school, college and law school. Learning how to work, deal with co-workers and bosses, customers, etc. is HUGE. It’s funny how many people I met, especially in law school that never worked in their lives and they had poor coping skills when it came to job issues, or work/social skills.
    I’m definitely making sure my kid(s) have jobs to “put their time in” when they are going through school. It helps you keep things in perspective too.
    College doesn’t teach much in the way of dealing with the real world, at least that’s what my experience was.

  2. beth says:

    Aah, you are right on the money. I will have my daughter read this after I am thru.
    Glad to see you are posting again. And hope you are feeling 100%!

  3. mandi says:

    well said!!! I worked every summer and breaks, my sister took classes. I had a job before graduation lined up ready to start a week later. My sister couldn’t find a “good” job so she went back to law school. I definitely think that when students do this, they don’t get a taste of the real world.

  4. Amsterdamn says:

    Amen. I am so proud of my kids, they both worked consistently through their college years- the last two years, my little one earned over $10,000 at her “menial” jobs. They will be better employees, and people for this experience.