How should I beef up my CV is a question that will start to make the rounds on campuses all over the country, for it will soon be placement season.
LinkedIn will be awash with people happy to report, or excited to share (or in some cases, elated to announce) that they have completed course XYZ on platform ABC. Recommendation requests will come flowing in through the pipelines, and endorsements will abound. But simple Econ 101 should tell us that each of these have become so easy to acquire, and so commonplace an occurrence, that their value on your CV is commensurately lower.
Pamela Paul, writing in the NYT, has an idea that is fairly popular in the United States (although as the column explains, it could always be more popular), but doesn’t have quite as many takers in India: get a part time job.
Many instead favor an array of extracurricular activities that burnish their college applications, like student government and peer tutoring. This may be a mistake even for those parents and kids more concerned about college admissions than about what happens after that. Consider that having an afternoon job cultivates skills like time management and instills a sense of independence and personal responsibility — attributes that many college administrators say some students today lack.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/30/opinion/jobs-teenagers.html
But after-school jobs teach more concrete lessons as well. Personally, I learned more working outside school — starting with three afternoons a week when I was 14 and ending with three jobs juggled, seven days a week, my senior year of high school — than I did in the classroom.
The ability to get, hold on to, and do well in a job – any job – is a rare old skill, and one that you’d do well to cultivate. In fact, what better way to signal that you are ready for the hurly-burly of the labor market than by proving that you’re already a participant? Pamela lists out ten ways in which a job helped her, and while you should go ahead and read the whole column, I’ll list out the ten factors here. Note that this is my summary of her ten points:
- Being good at a job is a very different skillset when compared to being good at studies – which is a polite way of saying college doesn’t teach you all you need to know. Every single person who has left academia and joined the corporate world will nod appreciatively on reading this statement, guaranteed.
- Being fired, or quitting your job, is not the end of the world.
- You tend to appreciate money a lot more when you realize how little you are paid for an hour of honest work
- Promotions can be based on duration of employment, not on level of skill, and this is an important lesson for life
- You are paid for your time, and the work you put in during that time. Slacking ain’t appreciated!
- Bosses can be mean. Not all, and not all the time. but bosses can be mean.
- You will work with folks who are different from you, in many ways and with many consequences, and you have to figure out how to deal with it
- Some of these folks, simply because of who they are and how they made it to the same job as you, will pull you down to earth, by helping you realize how lucky you are to be where you are
- Boredom is part and parcel of all jobs.
- School skills can be acquired out of school – but the reverse isn’t true.
Any job is fine – it needn’t be a desk based job. In fact, the more physical labor is involved, the more you are likely to learn. I managed an art gallery while I was in college to earn money on the side, and also taught econ to students of commerce, and I learnt more by trying to handle the art gallery.
But a job interview is likely to go that much better if you are able to say yes in response to a question about prior work experience. The more interesting the job, and the more well thought out your responses to a question about what you learnt on the job, the better your chances!
Further reading: Tyler Cowen tells us about his first job (follow up post here), as does Alex Tabbarok (this post has more than a dash of surrealism!)