Don’t overlook the advantages of student employment

Francis McNeilly, Staff Assistant-Federal Work Study, Fin Aid | Guest commentary

With national student employment week upon us, what benefit does student employment have?  

First, it is an escape from academics. Students have a chance to learn valuable job skills outside of the classroom and have a breather from being buried in books, paper, homework and computer screens.

Organizations that employ students have the advantage of hiring hardworking and determined people with an ultimate goal of graduating from college and finding a golden opportunity after their student life at WSU.

Student employment is just as important to students new to college as it is for students approaching graduation with the daunting task of competing for careers with other brand-spanking new graduates and veteran career professionals.

While finding a job tends to move to the forefront of student’s minds part way through their student life, student employment and work-study are things that are consistently overlooked when calculating the costs of college when prospective freshmen are choosing the right university to attend.

Working as a student and having a work-study job can be beneficial not only to help for college, but to begin networking and getting relevant degree experience that will prove useful when competitively applying for positions after graduation.

Work-study is useful, but it is need-based financial aid, meaning that not all students can be eligible to apply and use work-study.

There are four qualifications that students need to meet in order to apply for work-study funding: students that filed the FAFSA before Feb. 15, indicated “yes” for work-study on the FAFSA, are in good SAP standing, and have at least $1,000 of unmet need can qualify for work-study.

For students that do not qualify for work-study, there are still opportunities out there.

Networking, meeting people in the same field or employers that can spawn internships and careers, should begin as soon as the student knows what they want to study and what kind of career they want to pursue in their field.

Most programs of study require internships as part of the credit load for graduation. Most entry-level positions for post-grads require some professional experience.

Internships, paid or unpaid, are worth their weight in gold when applying for jobs. Paid internships are nice, but unpaid internships have the same value in terms of experience.

Some internships can be done solely online. For a communication student, LinkedIn may be an ideal place to look because there are volunteer social media manager positions available.

Employers see the value in volunteering. When an employer conducts interviews and comes across a resume with volunteer experience, that tells them the job seeker that submitted the resume is dedicated and willingly gave their time to a higher cause.

Volunteering with a position that is related to a degree of study could be counted as an internship, as long as the program of study recognizes it as an internship if attempting to make the internship count for credit.

Even if an internship does not count for credit, it is a resume builder. An internship can go towards the job qualification of “___ years of experience required/preferred for this position.”

When the career fairs commandeer Beasley Coliseum twice a year, potential post-grad employers can give helpful insight the kind of relevant experience that they look for when hiring post-grads.

The Center for Advising and Career Development (CACD) is also available as a source to WSU students that want to develop a plan for their academic life and post-grad career.

SALT, a program from the Office of the Dean of Students that is free for WSU students, is a resource for applying for positions. There are articles that cover topics like writing a good cover letter and how to approach a job interview.

– The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.