Employment after college: Start off low, work your way up

Employment during term-time at college: besides the money you earn, what are the long term benefits to reap? Industry connections are worth more than a first class degree, and this is why. Article
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

A question risen on the Guardian Money section asked:

"My daughter is off to university to study physics, but I'm concerned that she's planning to do paid weekend (and possibly) evening work while there. We are not well off, so we can't help out much, but I would prefer her to focus on her studies. What is the best paid work to combine with university studies? Or should she restrict earning money to her vacations?"

An interesting one which I have debated over many a minute of a frothing pint of English ale.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am one of the luckiest students in the country today. Not only do I earn a living working here online, or more specifically from my office at home, but I gain experience and industry connections and have the time to study also.

However the vast majority of students simply do not have the same luck as me.

What does annoy me to the root core of my being is when Daddy with a Range Rover and Mummy with the pony, give their child a credit card and any payments made are repaid by the parents. One student came to me (as a friend) in tears because, "Daddy cut off my credit card, and now I can't go into town and buy clothes and have a good time".

Had I not also been a welfare officer for the union, I probably would have slapped her and told her where to shove her sodding credit card.

So, you have a number of options. And considering this is a technology website, I'm somewhat limited to writing about the technology side of industry - but most are synonymous with other areas and industries.

Industry connections are important. A university-level education nowadays is worth diddly-squat. You can easily walk out of college with a first-class degree with honours in engineering or computer science. You can tell this to your office manager at your new job, and they'll still tell you to make the coffee for everyone else.

During college, make the efforts to go to events, conferences and places where people within the industry you want to go into meet. Yes, they will be boring and most of the time you will question your own sanity at the boring tripe these people come out with. But making an appearance and a positive impression will do you well in the future.

But working in a local computer store - that is, if you are studying computer science - gives you the experience and the real-world scenarios that future employers want to see. Just because you have a piece of paper with your name on it doesn't prepare you for what the real world throws at you.


How do you think medical students cope? They have years of lectures, seminars and medical training, but the only real-life experience they get is once they kill their first patient on their first day.

Not only do you get money for working but the experience is more valuable in the long run. It is important to remember that. Most jobs strive for previous experience which leads me to question as to how you gain this experience in the first place?

The answer is simple: by starting off low, and working in the crappiest of the crap, and working your way up.

If you want proof of this, do you remember where I used to work before getting this gig? Microsoft. You have to take some serious knocks in life to get to where you want.

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