How to land your dream career: 5 lessons not taught in the classroom

By Lauren Giannone
January 22, 2020

With national tuition costs being upwards of $36,801 according to US News data, it may not be surprising to learn that high student loan debt has become commonplace for many Americans today.

Pennsylvania ranks second nationally in states with the highest student loan debt. Pennsylvanian loan debt averaged about $37,061 according to a 2018-2019 report by the Institute for College Access and Success

At the same time, students are working more now than they have previously. In a 2018 report, Georgetown University found that 70 percent of full-time college students are working. Students from a variety of income ranges can work on average, 15 to 35 hours a week. Working before and during college can help offset some of the high tuition that comes with school so that loans are not so daunting.

Kayla Hunt, junior writing and music industry major, works three jobs on campus. Hunt said that one of the main reasons she decided to work while attending college was to lessen the financial burden on her mom.

Kayla Hunt, junior writing and music industry major, has worked as a student fellow for the Cabrini Cruisers, a classroom coach and a writing center peer tutor. Photo by Lauren Giannone

Working while attending college does not just help some students financially but can help build invaluable skill sets that prepare students for what comes post-graduation.

Likewise, Hunt said her jobs have taught her foundational skills that can help her post-graduation.

“You learn how to be more responsible and turn in your time-sheets, Hunt said. You learn how to talk to your boss. You learn how to develop a relationship with them so that you trust them and they trust you.”

Helps you learn about yourself prior to choosing a field of study

Many students go into college not knowing what career path to take. They are dropped into yet another classroom environment with little real-world experience.

Sarah Robbins, senior business administration major at Albright College. Robbins’s skills acquired while working as hairstylist and salon manager while attending school will help her transition her current job into a business-related career. Photo by Mary Robbins

Students who work can explore entry-level jobs in their proposed field of study. This can both increase their level of work experience as well as make sure they are confident with progressing in their projected career path. If they don’t enjoy working in a similar or related field of study now they may not be comfortable following graduation. This process can save students a lot of time and money in time to come.

Gives you resume experience

Balancing work and school teaches students invaluable skills such as time management. These types of skills help working students stand out among their peers when applying for a job.

“I have had some personal things happen in my life,” Hunt said. “But, when you know that you have to be completely present for two hours at a time and be there for a student, you don’t have the time to think about certain other things that are going on in your life.”

Builds your network

Working while going to school can lead to meeting connections while studying that can be helpful upon graduation. A portfolio of people whom students meet at work can be helpful later on when trying to land their dream job. 

Prepares you for the hiring process

Students who work while in a university may be more confident in applying to jobs upon completion of their degree, because they have experienced job application processes. Thus, these students may be better prepared when it comes to interviewing.

Makes you a valuable asset to employers

Hiring managers expect new graduates to come out of college having work experience. According to a survey conducted of 172 organizations, nearly 80 percent of employers prefer that their candidates have work experience.


Kiara Moore, sophomore, biology pre-med major works on-campus in the Cavalier Express Center as well as attending classes. Photo by Lauren Giannone

Working students show employers they are equipped to handle almost any task that can arise in the work environment. Most of these candidates have also proven to multitask efficiently as a result of working on a team.

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Lauren Giannone

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