We get it. You’re slammed with exams, parties, and commitments to friends and family. But working during the school year is a surefire way to ensure that you set yourself up for success once you graduate. Working during your academic career is one of the best things you can do for your future career, your debt level, and your academic performance.
And if you think you’re too busy to take on an after-school job, think again. With national student loan debt quickly exceeding $1 trillion and unemployment rates for recent college grads dauntingly high, it might be more important than ever to start adding items to your resume sooner rather than later.
Here are six reasons to consider:
Your GPA will thank you.
Ten to 20 hours is the sweet spot for those who can afford to limit their hours. Studies show that students with this work-school balance have higher average GPAs and better retention.
You’ll learn to manage your time better.
The adage is right: If you need something done, give it to a busy person. Working while in school teaches invaluable time management skills that will serve you down the line. “I find that the more I do, the better I am at managing my time,” said Sandra Jodelka, a senior at the University of Bridgeport who is majoring in exercise science. “I find I’m just more on it when I’m squeezing work into my weekly schedule. I have to be more efficient when I have less time — so I am.”
You can try it, before you buy it.
Ideally, students gain three things from college employment: income, experience, and an expanded network. College jobs are a great way to experiment with career options, getting a taste for what different jobs might be like. “I always thought I wanted a career in broadcast journalism,” said Grace Clark, a Fordham University graduate who is now an RN at Boston Children’s Hospital. “I spent time in college working for various news outlets, learning more about the industry. While I enjoyed it, it ultimately didn’t feel like a long-term fit. I was glad to discover that early, before I even graduated from college.”
You never know whom you’re going to meet.
Networking is also crucial to the job search process as you approach graduation. If you work, you have the opportunity to connect with multiple employers and their staff for a range of jobs. “Although most of my jobs have been ‘manual labor’ so far —moving furniture, assembling shelves — employers have naturally turned to ‘what I’m doing next year,’” said Kyle Huben, a senior at Fairfield University. “The insights and guidance I’ve received in this casual way have been incredibly helpful.”
Money is fun.
This one is pretty obvious, but having some income allows you to make the most of your college experience… such as the spring break trip your roommates started talking about in September.
You’ll impress future employers.
Whether you have a blue-chip internship, glamorous summer job, or a scrappy one waiting tables and tidying stockrooms, future employers will deem you way more exciting, dependable, and mature than someone who has no work experience on their resume when graduating from college. One of the top things on every employer’s list is someone with a strong work ethic.
Andra Newman is a co-founder of QuadJobs, former head of college recruitment for Abercrombie & Fitch + J.Crew, and a regular contributor to Teen Vogue. This article was originally published on TeenVogue.com.