November 9, 2005

Advice to college students

It boils down to this: Do not spend more than one summer working at a summer camp unless you fit into one of the following categories:
1. You plan to be a nurse or accountant - shortage renders summer experience moot.
2. You plan to be a teacher or pastor - camp experience may be field-related.
3. Your dad/mom/grandparents/aunt/uncle owns or has influence in a company you can work for.

The reason I say this is that in this climate, your accumulated experiences matter quite a bit for getting a job after college. Spending three or four summers chasing 10 year olds around in a camp setting doesn't really get you ready to put the communications degree to work. There are thousands of people just like you out there, especially in the liberal arts, and the way to differentiate yourself is to get great (not just good) grades and find some way to get practical experience over the summers or via internships.

Case in point. Janet is in class with a girl who studied history obviously. She spent all her summers working at camp. It's now November 9th, and she has yet to find a job since moving to Chicago at the beginning of the semester. She has no skills, unless you count building a model of the grand canyon out of silly putty, or whatever goes on at camp.

Skills people. That's what employers want. Why are you better than the kid who picked up his diploma right before you? Because you developed your skills at a summer job that is at least tangentially related to your field. At least, that's the answer you should try to be able to give.

Camp can be a great experience, no doubt, but I would try to limit it to the first or second summer in college. After that, burn up the phone and email lines and call in every family favor you can to get yourself an internship, unless you fit into the categories described up at the beginning.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

Just let it be known that the only influence my dad had on me getting my job was that he told me about it. My employment there is based soley on my merits and knowledge. Though it probably did help that I was only competing against one other person for my position...

What comments can you make about me still working at camp every summer???