4 Important Career Skills Gained by Working During Your College Years

important career skillsIt’s not uncommon for college students to work part-time while they’re in school. For some, it’s even a necessity. But there’s more to gain from working during your college years than just some extra cash. Their are also opportunities for “real world” preparation that help college students learn important career skills.

Like these four…

Time Management

In today’s busy world, where everyone is juggling multiple priorities, time management is one of the more important career skills. But it’s one that’s easier said than done — and it requires practice.

College jobs and internships offer students a great opportunity to learn how to plan ahead, prioritize, and effectively manage their time. For instance, when planning work shifts, students must look ahead in their schedules to not only avoid conflicts with class times but also to accommodate for assignment work and study time. Failure to plan ahead can mean something important slipping by like preparation for an exam, or a missed work shift.

Practicing time management also means learning to balance work with personal priorities. As many working professionals already know, finding a work-life balance is incredibly challenging. But working college students can learn an early lesson in advancing their careers while also being mindful of their relationships and personal well-being.


College jobs and internships provide innumerable opportunities for students to improve their communication skills, both verbal and written. For instance, those gaining industry experience through an internship often get opportunities to give a presentation. This not only helps them learn to communicate information effectively but also to become more comfortable with public speaking.

But communication skills can also be gained through more “typical” college jobs. For instance, those working in retail can gain valuable experience communicating with customers. Those working as restaurant managers learn communication by providing feedback to lower level employees.

Even work-study programs offer opportunities for communication skills improvement. Students working as research assistants are often asked to help present findings or to write reports. This is excellent practice in learning to explain complicated information in an understandable way.


Networking always makes the list of important career skills. College is a fantastic time to start building a professional network. Many schools offer resources to help their students make professional contacts such as career fairs, mixers, and meetings with alumni. Students who choose to pursue internships also gain invaluable opportunities to meet professionals within the industries they hope to join after graduation

But even if students don’t have the opportunity to work in a job that fits within their future career goals, they can still network. Students can make connections with managers, who may become references for future job opportunities or even career mentors.

Those working in a service-oriented job also have an opportunity to network with customers. Not only can this help the current company they work for, but it can also be a way to create long-term relationships that can be beneficial later on.


Universities design their curriculum to help students grow in many different ways. But most are set up to teach students how to “test” more so than to think creatively. In school, every class has a syllabus outlining the exact class details, including assignments and deadlines.

Though that type of structure may work well in a classroom setting, it certainly does not translate to the professional world. College internships and jobs offer a chance for students to break from this structured thinking and begin to gain initiative.

In internships and college jobs, there are no syllabi. Working students effectively operate in an environment that is ambiguous and fluid. These “learning by teaching” opportunities enable students to offer original ideas or take on additional responsibilities.

College jobs are a necessary way for many students to financially support themselves. But they also allow these working students to develop and practice important career skills that can help better prepare them for the professional world.

Next time you go off to work… don’t just think about what you’ll earn. Think about what you’ll learn.



This story was written by StudySoup, a peer-to-peer learning marketplace that connects top students in the class with those who need a little help. Top students can upload their notes and study guides to the StudySoup Marketplace, providing their peers with helpful materials while also earning some extra cash.



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