Before You Go to College, Get a Job

Even the College Board says that a “cutting-edge internship or a job that requires responsibility and leadership” can look as good on your college applications as attending Harvard summer school. Our expert college advisors at International College Counselors agree.

The trend in the past couple of years for competitive college-bound students was doing volunteer work, the more exotic the better. But then, taking two weeks out of the summer to help malaria victims in East Africa started to become the norm on college applications. Admission officers looked for something new to set students apart from one another.

The result: many college applications now ask for your “paid employment” experiences. Interesting as well, admissions officers at several elite schools say they are giving more credit to students who have real-world jobs and less to students who have taken on “meaningful” activities that say resume padding louder than passion. (For community service to really count you need to show a solid pattern of volunteer activity). Admissions officers recognize that jobs can benefit students in college. In a job, young people can: increase their real-world problem solving skills, build a sense of responsibility, learn to take orders, experience working with others from diverse backgrounds, and gain valuable experience in handling boredom.

Having a job can help students in other ways as well. Besides looking good on your application, we all know that the best way to know if you really want a job is by trying it. Having a job can help you narrow down your interests and help you discover what you like to do and what you don’t. Take a job as a salesperson, and maybe you’ll find that you hate nothing more than having to deal with people. Work in an office and perhaps you’ll discover nothing but drudgery. Working with an architect or at a television station might strip away the glamorous façade of the career and show you what the day to day can really be like. Now is the time to start thinking about the future, not just college, but beyond.

As importantly as where do you want to go, you need to answer the questions of what do you want to do? If you fall in love with agricultural science or primatology (look that SAT word up), going to Harvard is not going to help you.

Check in with us for opportunities – or tips and suggestions on how you can create your own opportunities. The college advisors at International College Counselors are available to help you. Please contact us with any questions you may have. International College Counselors provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate college admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays, and college applications. The expert advisors at International College Counselors tailor their college counseling and college coaching services to address the goals, needs, and dreams of each student. Our college advising company works with domestic and international students. Let us help you make the best decisions in choosing, getting into, and paying for college.