Getting a job prepared me for the real world

I thought I was just making money, but apparently I was learning life lessons.


by Anne Claire Tangen, Staff Writer

It’s 3 a.m. on a Saturday night and, energy drink from Quick Trip in hand, I’ve given up. My Himes paper is due tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. and I just touched it for the first time, finishing somewhat of a rough draft. I need to be up in three hours to get ready for work.

You’re probably asking yourself why I didn’t start my paper two weeks ago. This is a Himes paper we’re talking about, why would I procrastinate so much? He gives you two whole weeks to write it. The crazy thing is: I am not that much of a procrastinator. I used to not be one at all. I just work so much I am constantly catching up on homework and sleep that I left it until the absolute last minute.

The past couple of months I’ve spent working in the food service industry have really opened my eyes. Working has taught me another level of responsibility, time management and overall moral values. My perspective on the world has drastically changed because I got a job.

I am currently working 20 hours per week, which doesn’t sound that much until you realize that a full time job is 40 hours per week. I’m left constantly with a less than adequate amount of sleep (not that this is strange to any student at STA), which puts me a bad mood.

Unfortunately, when you’re working, you know who cares about your bad mood? No one. The customers aren’t going to ask you if you had a bad day, your manager isn’t going to care if you just failed a math test. You have to fake a smile and make sure everyone else is happy before you are- you know, that thing called customer service (mine is a little rough, just in case you were wondering).

Work doesn’t care when you have a bunch of homework. You can’t just call in and say you have to study for your history exam so you’ll be a couple hours late. I have had to use time management to the best of my ability on the days I’m working, otherwise I’ll be up way too late doing homework.

Working has started to snap me out of my secluded view of the world and has shown me how difficult it can be to provide for yourself. Working with mostly adults and college students, I had started to realize this pretty early on in the job. Only 14 percent of college seniors have steady, career-type jobs lined up for them after graduation. All the time you hear about how grads are having harder and harder times finding jobs in their field, but it’s one thing to hear something and another to actually witness it.

My parents had always told me that I wouldn’t know the value of a dollar until I had to earn it myself. I come from this sheltered world of things being provided for me all my life and I can tell you right now that they were totally right. I started to care much more about what I was spending my money on (food) once I knew how long it took me to earn it.

Getting a job was actually one of the better decisions I’ve made because, although my outlook on the future has changed- not necessarily for the better, I feel like I’ll be more prepared for the next chapter in my life because of it.

My alarm beeps at 6:45 a.m. As I begin to put on my work uniform, I can’t help but think about how I have to work for 7 hours, come home, work on my essay and other homework, then do it all over again next weekend. You know what they say: Red Bull gives you wings.