I've been lucky.
As soon as I came to college as a freshman just last fall, I started applying for work-study jobs on campus. By October, I found myself in the office of the Pediatric Residency Program at the Children's Hospital across the street from my college, which is actually a part of the University of Rochester.
As I've been finishing up my first year as part of this office, I've found myself realizing that without this job, I probably wouldn't be where I am today: in academics, in my sports, in work ethics and in organizations on campus. I am so beyond thankful for the opportunities I've received. So, why not spread all the teachings this job has given me in the past year?
1. Your Work Does Matter
Working in Pediatrics doesn't mean that you have to work directly with patients. Yes, the interns, second years, third years and chiefs all work with them, but that's not what I do at all. The residency office is the behind-the-scenes work. So while a lot of patients and parents may not see what I do or the work that the office does, every little extra sticker placed on a water bottle, every evaluation that goes into the resident's folders - even bringing bagels to the floors for breakfast - it all plays a part in the bigger scheme. The work does matter, whether you realize it or not.
2. You Have an Automatic Recommendation
Not only is it good work experience, but if you do your job and you do it well, you can expect a really good recommendation when you leave college. The recommendation will show a side of you that is outside of the academic realm, and it's for this reason that it's so helpful. Your boss sees a different side of you than your major advisor; they'll see your work ethic, your social skills, your work skills, how quick you are to adapt to hard situations and much more. It's all the skills that an advisor cannot see.
3. You Learn to be Patient
We've had a lot of changes in staff this year, and because of that there has been a lot of training that has taken place. It hasn't been just my boss training the new full-time staff, but I'm also helping them as well. It's a lot of work but it all pays off. Teaching these new full-time members is hard work, but by learning how to be patient and taking things slow for those who may not understand the material as well, you now have a skill that will forever play a part in your work life going forward.
4. "It's Go Time" Means It's Go Time
As with any job, there are going to be lulls. But, there are also going to be times when 100 percent focus is required and you'll be busy the entire time you're at work. Yes, I can finish my homework during my job, but when it's time to really do work, it's time to really do work. Often enough, the fall semester has these recruitment days for new interns, and twice a week I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off. But, by being there for my boss and whoever else needs my help, it makes the whole operation run a lot smoother. It's that bigger scheme concept, yet again. Your running around pays off in the long run.
5. Did Someone Say Time Management?
Yes, you can be time management savvy before even getting a job, but being here has taught me how to prioritize not only school work, but certain parts of my job as well. Certain tasks need to get done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so the days that I'm at my job for longer are the days I can get those tasks out of the way, instead of on a day where I'm only here for two hours. By working, I not only create a good work ethic, but I create a mental planner so I know what needs to get done, when it needs to get done and how to best finish those projects.
6. Everyone is Not Out to Get You
Believe or not, people are working to make money just like you are. They're not here to make your life miserable, whether you believe it or not. There are often times I find myself struggling to keep up and make myself known, but sometimes taking a step back to breathe and reevaluate changes all of that. We're all headed towards one goal: making this hospital better. That has become my focus, whether I like who I'm working with or not.
7. How to Say "No"
I was, and still am, the person to take on too many things and end up with a plate the size of my face. This job has taught me how to say no, and feel OK saying it. There are so many projects and so many things going on at once, it's easy to think that you can take it all on. But, you don't have to. Saying "no," does not limit your abilities and does not make anyone look down on you. If you don't think you can finish a project your boss wants done in time because of the other things on your plate, don't take it on. If you don't think you can put your all into a club on campus because you have time to study, don't take it on. You have to stick to what you know. Don't stress yourself out! It's better to be relaxed and feel accomplished than stressed and overwhelmed.
8. People Will Let You Down
In contrast to point number six, it's easy to assume that everyone is going to help you get where you need to go. Do not think this is true for one second. Everyone may have a common goal, but how they get there may be completely different from how you may get there. Understand that group projects and teams aren't necessarily the best and that people will sometimes let you down. I've taken on tasks that don't belong to me or aren't under my job description because their counterparts have failed to make these actions take place. It's important to understand that even if people aren't out to get you, it doesn't mean that they're going to help you. This is the same idea with group projects in school and in other group environments.
9. You Have a Second Home
I've been lucky, like I said before, to have this job and to develop the bond that I have with my boss and some of my other co-workers. Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have found a job that they both love and can say that they are getting something out of it besides money for school. I have gone to my boss with problems that I have with school, personal issues, issues with my athletics and much more, and I feel confident in telling her all of this because of that bond I have with her. There are often times that I really miss my home in Syracuse, and it feels good to have someone, or a few someones, that I can go to and vent to in a time of need. Like I said, I've been lucky.
While not everyone will get a work-study job that they grow to love, I find myself happy to make the trek to work every day of the week. If you are ever thinking about applying for a job on your campus or around your campus, go for it! There are so many great opportunities available to you that you might not even know about. It's a chance to meet new people, grow a little, gain that experience while you can and so much more.
Lead Image Credit: Golisano Children's Hospital at URMC