In an increasingly competitive marketplace, it can be hard for young people to find their way. Real-life work experiences can help them! Here are three ways an jumping into the workplace early can positively impact students:
1. Explore Professional Paths
There are so many different fields for students to consider when entering the workforce. It can be overwhelming to know where to start. Students who engage in real-life work experiences are able to narrow down their own interests and passions so that they can jump-start their professional paths.
Internships and part-time jobs allow students to explore new fields they might not otherwise consider. A position as a nurse’s aid in a elder care facility might spark a student’s interest in the medical field. An internship with a local electrician might direct a student towards electrical engineering. A student assistant for a local campaign might become interested in pursuing local government. There are so many paths for young people to explore. Given a variety of opportunities, students may discover new interests and passions that lead them to a fulfilling career.
2. Learn Valuable Soft Skills
There are many skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. Students who participate in the workforce can glean valuable life lessons. In order to be successful in the workplace, students must learn how to interact professionally with managers and co-workers. Real-life work experiences teach them the importance of punctuality and consistency. Depending on the field, students may learn how to both serve and collaborate with people with a variety of personality types and backgrounds to accomplish a goal. Students with real-life work experience soon discover that respect, humility, and clear communication are skills that every professional needs.
3. Gain Transferable Skills and Knowledge
After several internships and work experiences, a student can narrow down their field of focus and begin their professional development in earnest. If a student shows aptitude in a particular field, they can start to learn some of the more technical skills required for their career path. They can begin working towards certifications in that field. Students can find online publications in their field of choice and follow the latest developments. When the student is ready to apply for a full-time entry level position within their preferred field, they will be able to intelligently converse about the position and the field at large. They can also demonstrate a practical understanding and the skills for the job, and show their certifications (or progress towards them). This will give them a significant advantage over other individuals who are just beginning to enter the field.
Whether it is a few days of job-shadowing or a few months as an intern, students have a lot to gain by exploring the workplace. If you're a student, reach out to local employers and see if they offer any programs! And if you are a professional, consider how you can engage high school and college students in your town.
About the Author:
Megan Jones is the head of the Humanities Division of Village Creed. She graduated from Covenant College with a degree in Community Development in 2014. Her passion is fostering connections within communities to help individuals thrive.