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Career Planning

I love the holidays. It gives me time to watch movies, read new books, and catch up with family members I don’t get to see all the time. Quite often, my cousins and their parents ask me about my best experiences during those four magical years, and when I really think about it, my work experience was what made college a total blast.

You’re probably rolling your eyes at me through the computer screen right now, but let me explain why having a job during college made my experience so great. It provided me with everything I wanted: friends, colleagues, experience, and my own money. College is a time for learning and taking new steps. There are incredible benefits that come with having a job in college and before you think of me as just another career-dishing hypocrite, know that I had four jobs throughout college. In the wise words of Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference.”

If you’re thinking of jumping on the job bandwagon, or your parents have finally decided to cut you off, here are four things you can look forward to once you join the wonderful world of workers.

SALARY

You haven’t felt true independence until you start making your own money and can spend that hard-earned dinero exactly how you want. No more justifying to your parents why you need that fifth pair of Nike sneakers or the new iPhone 4 when your iPhone 3 is perfectly usable.

NETWORKING

I know this sounds like a scary job-search buzzword, but the truth is, in college you network all the time and probably don’t even notice that you’re doing it. Everyone wants to know more people at school, and getting a job will only help you accomplish this. Don’t look at networking as something you must do, but as something you’ll enjoy doing. I worked as a resident assistant for two years and I got to know all the college administrators and heads of residence halls, which as you can imagine, helps in sticky situations. And when you look ahead to the post-college job search, those people will make great references.

CREATIVITY

So maybe you’re a student athlete, member of student senate, a double major, and involved in a few other activities that don’t allow for a full-time or even a part-time job. Show some entrepreneurial spirit and start a business. As a freshman, I became known around my dorm as a skilled nail polisher and soon girls would come to me right before the weekend and ask for manicures. It became such a regular occurrence that I started charging for it. Someone had to fork over the money to pay for all that polish!

RESUME BUILDER

You may not appreciate the importance of building your resume during those early college years, but having something to show for it (other than a high GPA) will strengthen your chances of getting a job after graduation. Employers love to see that you spent your college years balancing your studies and social life all while managing a job on the side. Even if it’s part time or seasonal, having some kind of work experience helps your case in that first job interview.

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