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June 10, 2009

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Just be careful that all of that work doesn't ruin your grades, your social life or anything else. I worked nearly full time for several years while going to college and taking more than a full course load. Yeah, I was a glutton for punishment. All that work experience destroyed every aspect of my life other than my balance sheet. I wouldn't do that again.

If you are aiming to get into a very competitive program it makes more sense to stay focused on getting the highest grades possible. Med schools aren't going to care if you mowed lawns or managed the student theater if all you've got to show for it are Cs and Bs.

IMHO, the best thing a new grad can do is not enter the job market during a recession. This is where I'm currently stuck at, having just finished graduate school at exactly the worst time ever.

The next best thing is to get relevant work experience. If you want to do X, get an internship at companies that do that. Unfortunately, if you later decide that you have no interest in pursuing X, that internship may or may not really be worth anything. Depending on the hiring managers and your competition.

Amen. Doing multiple internships and field work related to my profession while in college was the best thing I could have done for myself and my career. A good, motivated student will find a way to balance their work and school responsibilities so that neither suffers. You want the highest grades possible for grad school, but many graduate programs want you to have work experience as well, and if you're going into a doctoral program, you darn well better be able to balance A-level school work with your teaching load.

Those are some very good points. Never to early to start a resume. I'm a student, I have multiple resumes targeted for a variety of job areas. The biggest problem for me has been getting a job. I have experience, and a lot of accomplishments, but so have a lot of other students here (SoCal), so the job market is extremely competitive. My main focus for work and school is IT.

I recently got laid off, and have been incurring major car repairs, So things are very tough now. It's also been very difficult with A+ honors education see others with lesser experience and education walk away with a job.

Gives you options too. I bartended in high school and university. Luckily when I graduated there was a lot of demand for people with my degree, but if I was finishing college today I'd be happy to have that marketable skill.

I would add that another great option is to do undergraduate research in a professor's lab. This is especially important if you are considering grad school. Research experience can be either paid or non-paid but it is a great experience either way!

When I graduated from university, 33% of the population of the country was my age, "graduating" and looking for work. I worked summers typing engineering reports and when I graduated, did clerical work. I had friends with MBA's driving cabs for a living at that time. Even if it's not related to your field, I feel there is a law in life (one of many) that says "one thing leads to another if your heart is true and your attitude is positive". Work ethic and a positive "can do" attitude is a tough find these days. If you can't find work directly related to your field, just find any work and then work it out from there. People WANT to help people; but it's so much easier to help people with good attitudes towards "whatever task" they are involved with because the human spirit doesn't connect to the cab driver (or the garbage man, or the clerk) per se, it connects to the spirit of the cab driver and everything takes off from there. I have interviewed hundreds, and the one value I cannot put a value upon is the measurement of a potential employee's heart. I quite often skip the skill, and look for someone I can train and develop more then anything else; and it all goes back to their attitude and work ethic.

The Work-Study program is a sore point for me. Because my dysfunctional family disqualified me from financial aid (my father was running from a federal indictment and couldn't claim me as a dependent, so a relative with a lower-middle-class income in NYC (too much income to qualify for financial aid) claimed me, so I didn't get a Work-Study award.

This wasn't a problem while I was in college, I had multiple sources of income working as a janitor, serving Slurpees (TM), and delivering pizzas.

However, when I applied for an entry-level IT job, I lost to another graduating applicant who has related experience in a Work-Study job.

I would also say that they should start looking BEFORE they need the job. I had my post-graduation job lined up halfway through the 1st semester of my senior year. They also extended an offer to intern until I graduated which I took. I had my pick of jobs and got my foot in the door right away, while classmates who waited had trouble finding places that were hiring at all as the recession was hitting by then. Even without that problem, it was nice to not have to worry about job hunting as I was taking senior level classes and exams.

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