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  • Writer's pictureDerek Stoppels


I had a conversation the other day with a student who was thinking of getting a summer job. Right off the bat I want to say that I think it's a great idea! There are a few other students in my class that have jobs already and I'm really proud of them for that!

My first real job was working at the Mr. Gas in Metcalfe. It's not there anymore, but I got SO MUCH out of that job! If I'm being honest, I've never been really great with money, especially saving it, but I learned a lot about earning it and subsequently, how much things cost!

One of the reasons I think students getting a job is SO important is because there is so much to learn from working. Time management skills, resiliency, financial responsibility, collaboration, global awareness, and I could pretty much cite off most, if not all, the OCDSB exit outcomes, which I have come to love so much! I'm going to write more about the importance of resiliency in the students of today but I'll touch on it a little bit in this post.

Getting a job, especially your first job, is a major accomplishment. Mom and dad aren't going to go to work with you, (hopefully) they aren't going to call in sick for you, no one is going to tell you how great you're doing unless you're doing a great job, and the financial compensation is a nice little boost too! You have to figure things out for yourself. Sure, you'll get training, which is mostly on the job, but there are going to be situations that are outside the scope of your training and you're going to have to figure out how to solve that problem. You're going to have to take what you know, and apply it in an unfamiliar situation. Sometimes things come up that can't wait for a supervisor or manager to show up on time, and you are going to have to take the initiative to make the situation right.

And do you want to know what?! Sometimes it's not going to work! You're going to fail. Having a job, and (hopefully) a good boss, is going to teach you that it's okay to fail. You're going to make mistakes and (hopefully) you'll have the right people around you to help you learn and grow. Remember, everyone you are working with was new at one point too!

Having a job is going to prove to yourself that you CAN do things and that you DO make a difference. It will teach you that you ARE responsible for yourself and your actions. You'll belong to something, and organization or a movement that is bigger than yourself, and what an incredible feeling that is!

Having a job is humbling. It is a reminder that you don't always know everything and that you are going to have to struggle. You are going to have to ask for help. And as a teacher, I can say, that a lot of students have a hard time asking for help. You will have to learn to overcome and deal with, or cope with, your social anxieties and I promise, you are going to be SO proud of yourself. Especially when your first pay-cheque comes in.

I know a lot students think it's easier, and better, when their parents pay for everything and just take care of them. But I'm telling yuh, everything becomes so much easier when you learn to do it for yourself. When you don't have to rely on anyone but yourself, the feeling you get is amazing! Now you don't have to wait for anyone, you can just do it. I get the impression that a lot of my students, not all of them, just want their parents to look after them until it's time for them to get a real job and move out. I don't love that term "real job". I hate it actually, if you're doing honest work and getting paid for it, it's a real job. It may not be your career job, but it's a real job.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to wait to get a job until you're looking for your career job. Imagine getting your degree and thinking "okay, now I'm going to go into the real world and get a real job, I'm ready." But you've never really worked a day in your life. You've only ever studied. What kind of skills can you bring to the team with which you are hoping to join and work for? What teamwork skills, or collaborations skills, would you have? What problem solving skills would you have? What resiliency skills would you have? If you're reading this and thinking I can get those skills in other ways, you might be right. But think of it from an employers perspective...if you can. If your potential employer is comparing you and someone else with the exact same qualifications, what is going to set you apart from your competition? Not your grades! They're going to look for character. How are you going to develop your character if you've only just gone to school and think that you're ready for "the world of work"? Why would an employer hire you over someone who has had a job before and knows and understands the work environment? Not because your grades were better than your competition!

Working for a company is not about what the company can do for you. Your employer will want to know what you can do for the company. That's how you're going to get hired. And the sooner you start working and gaining those real world and first hand experiences, the more tools you are going to acquire and develop for your tool box....the more marketable you will become.

All this to say - Get a job! It will only be good for you and you will not regret it!

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