Smith: Work-study jobs don’t prepare people for the real world

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By Wylliam Smith 

wylliam-smith@uiowa.edu 

At its very core, the whole college experience is a preparation process. College is meant to prepare you for the “real world,” or wherever you end up after school. College is meant to enhance your skills to better help your career, and working a job during college is a big part of that preparation.

The University of Iowa, as do many other colleges, offers work-study programs to help students pay for their college tuition while also giving them some work experience that they can use and apply to later jobs.

At least, that’s what they’re supposed to do. So far in my college experience, I have worked two jobs at the UI, and I feel that while they do provide a nice source of income for me, they don’t give me any real applicable work experience that I can use in the future.

Yes, working any job will give you basic skills such as time management, proper money saving skills, a certain level of discipline, etc. I’m not saying working these jobs don’t provide skills such as those for students, because they do. However, work-study jobs do not allow students to train in any other more important skills.

For instance, the jobs I worked before college were jobs such as catering, working as a line cook, and being a part of a janitorial staff. In each of those jobs, I can list several skills that I not only have used to enhance my résumé, but that will come in handy in any future job.

I tried to use some of these skills when I first came to work at the UI Housing & Dining. Unfortunately, I found that the students in these jobs weren’t required to cook. Instead, they were mostly stuck with refiling food trays.

The job was almost too easy, and to be honest, I felt that my job wasn’t that important. Especially when, in my previous catering job, I was both cooking and serving for at least the same number of people, if not more.

While I believe there are some jobs that do offer students opportunities to learn valuable customer-service skills at the university, they are not the jobs I feel students are looking for. The first thing I always heard when a student was promoting or asking about a job was “How much work do you have to do?”

This is a normal question that could be asked for any job. The problem is when that question is followed by this response: “Not much. I just sit around and do homework all day.”

There are actually a lot of jobs on campus that do this. Jobs that really just have students filling a space without actually requiring them to do much. And what I find most sad is employers will use the ability to do your homework as a selling point.

There is nothing wrong with allowing students to work easy jobs that don’t require a lot of stress. Because in reality, these are college students, so working these jobs aren’t really their first priority. That spot is taken up by their schoolwork so they can graduate.

However, these jobs don’t prepare students for real-world jobs, where one cannot just sit on one’s computer all day playing games.

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