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Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:22 pm UTC
by kikko
I'm 19, and get my tuition/fees/books payed for by the school. I live with my parents, and they give me so much money for gas/food/etc. that I don't need to actually get a job to pay for things, but still need to plan and keep a budget. When people ask me where I work, I always feel looked down on from not working and still getting the support of my parents (we never had a ton of money, but my dad came across a great job two years ago...his salary is now six times that of ten years ago and twice what it was three years ago), even by those who still live with their parents but don't get money for gas and stuff from them. I hear people talk bad about those who don't have to work through college all the time all the time, especially if they aren't getting a perfect 4.0, moreso about males than females, and the teachers seem to have this attitude also. I recently started going out with a girl who works two jobs and goes to college full time for a chemistry degree, and still doesn't have much due to her family situation, but she hasn't asked about what I do yet. Otherwise, if I ever need money I sell stuff which I bought for overly cheap during highschool, like yesterday I just got $240 for comic books I had bought for $40 (I bought them to resell them whenever a time came I needed cash) because I needed to fix something in my car.

Anyways, I'm thinking about getting a job as a lifeguard this summer, not that I need it (and I'd be taking classes and my parents give me enough), but feel like I should, and am starting to feel a bit bad about my parents giving me money.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 3:50 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
I think it depends what you do. At the very least, the motive of being self-sufficient is a worthwhile one. As a college student, I think most any employers will recognize motivation and work ethic to keep afloat during a summer as a good thing, but depending on what you're applying to, the expectations might be higher. I.e., if you're applying for an I-banking position, they probably won't give a shit about your job as a lifeguard, and you'd be hard pressed to spin it to sound better than someone whose summer job was something more oriented towards the position.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 4:06 pm UTC
by themandotcom
It obviously varies from person to person, but in my opinion its a resounding "yes." Did you work during High School? Ever hold a job? If not, its a very eye-opening experience to the tediums of life. I would suggest you get a job at a supermarket or something. It'll teach you about schedules, the value of time, and the value of money.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:29 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
In short, I'd say any job you perform in college to provide money for yourself will reflect positively upon you as being someone who is willing to work hard. That said, if you're a junior or a senior and you're still working something 'low end' and unrelated to your intended career, I'd say it may be perceived as though you aren't competent to rise up through the ranks or find something better suited someone of high talent/caliber. Of course, if you're, say, taking a long backpacking trip to Europe and spend a summer working some desk job to build up some cash, I can't imagine any future employer would look at that as a bad thing.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:31 am UTC
by Jahoclave
I don't look down upon you. I just hate you in a sort of I'm jealous sort of way. If it makes you feel better. You could get a job and then give the money to me. That way you can say you donated to charity and to increasing teacher pay.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:54 am UTC
by Shivari
Izawwlgood wrote:In short, I'd say any job you perform in college to provide money for yourself will reflect positively upon you as being someone who is willing to work hard. That said, if you're a junior or a senior and you're still working something 'low end' and unrelated to your intended career, I'd say it may be perceived as though you aren't competent to rise up through the ranks or find something better suited someone of high talent/caliber.


Ehh, sounds like you're talking a lot more about engineering majors here than anything else. I know that often they do internships and stuff for engineering companies and such when they're upperclassman, but I can't imagine being looked down for working at Subway if they're getting a more general degree. Saying that your summer job as a college student are going to hurt your career prospects is a pretty foolhardy thing to say. You're right that it's always nice to have something related to your field (as it gives you some experience), but you're not going to be shunned from future jobs because you worked at a fast food place. It won't pop on your resume or anything but it's still a job.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:03 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
Shivari wrote: Saying that your summer job as a college student are going to hurt your career prospects is a pretty foolhardy thing to say.

You must not have looked back to my previous post where I mentioned it depends on the caliber of what you're applying to.
Also;
Shivari wrote:Ehh, sounds like you're talking a lot more about engineering majorsthe caliber of position you're applying to, here than anything else

Just sayin'

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:02 am UTC
by Adacore
I disagree, in that (from what I know/understand) it's simply not true that 'working in Subway' is worse than not working at all, no matter what the caliber of position you're applying to. Sure, it doesn't look as good on your resume as working an internship in a relevant field would, but it looks better than not doing any work in the summer at all. The question wasn't 'what job should you get in college' it was 'should you get a job at all'.

I would say, in my experience, people weren't judged at all by lecturers or peers for not working while in uni, but it certainly does have an impact on employers. Any experience of work is a good thing, the more related to the field you want to work in the better, but pretty much any work will look good on a CV, at least if you continue to maintain a decent grade.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:51 pm UTC
by KestrelLowing
The most important thing is to get a job - some job of some kind - while you're in college. Employers will not hire you for a full-time job if they see you haven't worked a day in your life. If possible, the best would be to do something along your intended career, but if that's not possible just get a job/internship somewhere. You may not need one financially, but they're very necessary if you want to get hired out of college. If you or your parents are taking out any loans, a job can also help with that.

Also, having a job now would be a great idea to save up a bit for that time when you are no longer in college but are looking for a job. Chances are, you'll have to look for a while and if that requires traveling or anything like that, it would be nice to have a decent amount squirreled away.

That being said, socially some people will look down on you a bit. It's somewhat hard not to - especially if you're getting worse grades than people holding down two part-time jobs while going to school full-time. But people will look down on you for all sorts of stuff, so not having a job isn't exactly the only thing that can make people look down on you.

For the record, the majority of people I know do not have jobs while in college - although most of those people will work in the summers. If they do work during the school year, they pretty much do what I do - part time on-campus job (note that these are very much in demand - it helps if you're qualified to tutor a subject) with internships in the summer. There are a few I know that are waitress-ing through college with 20+ hour weeks, but the majority that have jobs during the school year only work 10-15 hours a week.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:39 pm UTC
by Izawwlgood
The point I was trying to convey is that you can spin unemployment to a 'high caliber' position in a lot of ways. You were traveling the world, you were studying for the GREs or GMATs or whatever, you were taking summer courses to round out that double major, etc. You cannot look an interviewer for Harvard Law or JPMorgan in the face and say "Well, my freshman year in college I wanted some money in my pocket, so I've been working at Subway for the past four years now" and expect them to think positively about your work ethic.
That's not to say that a single summer spent doing those things AND working some low key position would be a bad thing, but everything must be presented in a positive light, and it becomes harder to explain why you flipped burgers for four years when your applying to more prestigious positions.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:39 pm UTC
by Hofstadter'sLaw
I think it’d be best to avoid lifeguard/fast-food type jobs and do a co-op/internship in the field you’re interested in instead. If you can find a place that will pay you, then awesome! Save the money. Since you’re lucky enough to not need money, that just means that you have more positions open to you because you can take an unpaid co-op/internship or do volunteering. Alumni from my undergrad/grad schools always emphasized that employers value experience very highly, so a co-op/internship would give you that much sought after experience. Doing a co-op/internship in the field you’re interested in would also help you decide if you really do want to keep pursuing a career in that field or if you’d be interested in pursuing something else.

@ your worry of people looking down on you: For classmates and casual acquaintances from college, don’t worry about it. You’re never going to see most of them again after you graduate. For teachers, same thing. For your new girlfriend, if you not having a job at the moment is a huge deal to her, then maybe she’s not the best person to date anyway.

Personally, I had my tuition/books paid for by my school and the government. I also lived with and was supported by my parents (they're not high income, but we live comfortably/frugally). I had sporadic medical problems, so I didn't look for a job because I didn't think I could handle a job and school at the same time as being sick. I did do a co-op, 2 internship and volunteering thoughout the four years though. That all helped me greatly in deciding what to study in grad school and where to focus my career goals.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:34 pm UTC
by Adacore
Izawwlgood wrote:You cannot look an interviewer for Harvard Law or JPMorgan in the face and say "Well, my freshman year in college I wanted some money in my pocket, so I've been working at Subway for the past four years now" and expect them to think positively about your work ethic.

This is a curious statement, given I have friends who are now working at JPMorgan and Freshfields (I don't have many friends in Boston, so it'll have to be London lawfirms) who did exactly that*. Also, my university careers service always advised me that if you just said you were just 'travelling', employers would look down on you for it. They see you as an idle rich kid with no work ethic. You should be doing something valuable (like volunteering) with your time if you're not working. Maybe it's different in the UK, but while getting a summer internship placement in your penultimate year is important, before that it doesn't matter so long as you didn't just waste the entire summer doing nothing useful.

Incidentally, I know some people who wouldn't have been able to make it through university, financially, without taking a relatively menial job that 'put money in their pocket', both during term time and in the holidays. Student loans and bursaries only take you so far - are you saying these people (who include a couple of the brightest people I know) have no chance of getting a job with a high powered firm?

*Not every summer, obviously, but certainly their freshman and sometimes sophomore years.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:53 am UTC
by Andromeda321
People who judge you for stuff outside your control like having well-off parents are probably not opinions worth courting. And also very likely jealous of your situation.

You should be doing something during the summer though, even if it's some sort of volunteering, especially before senior year because it's a good opportunity to focus a lot of time on some project you're genuinely interested in (trust me, such opportunities come rarely later in life). For some reason this query reminds me of when I visited my best friend from high school over Labor Day weekend who had went to Yale- most of her friends had done awesome stuff like volunteering at an orphanage in Africa or a non-paid internship at a big law firm at NYC, and everyone was obviously bright and deserved such opportunities. I concluded the students at my Midwestern technical university were no less bright and wouldn't do any less well working at the African orphanage and would jump at the opportunity, it was just my friends all had to work for money and didn't have that luxury.

That said, I never got a job until my sophomore year where I started living off campus and working in a lab for a professor, and have never done retail/service industry, so conclude what you will.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:55 am UTC
by engr
It's not being looked down upon per se that you should worry about, it's your prospects of getting a job after graduation.
If you graduate with having only non-related (fast food, retail, etc.) job experience, that already places you in a bad position since you have to compete with people who had internships in something related to their major. But if you graduate college with no job experience at all, that would be much worse. Even if you go to grad school after graduation, you still should have job experience since research (and often teaching as well) is a big part of grad school, and this part requires work ethic.
Start looking for an internship in your field - paid or unpaid. Career fairs in US colleges are usually in the early fall, so start acting now. If all else fails, get a job unrelated to your major.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:49 am UTC
by aoeu
Adacore wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:You cannot look an interviewer for Harvard Law or JPMorgan in the face and say "Well, my freshman year in college I wanted some money in my pocket, so I've been working at Subway for the past four years now" and expect them to think positively about your work ethic.

This is a curious statement, given I have friends who are now working at JPMorgan and Freshfields (I don't have many friends in Boston, so it'll have to be London lawfirms) who did exactly that*. Also, my university careers service always advised me that if you just said you were just 'travelling', employers would look down on you for it. They see you as an idle rich kid with no work ethic. You should be doing something valuable (like volunteering) with your time if you're not working. Maybe it's different in the UK, but while getting a summer internship placement in your penultimate year is important, before that it doesn't matter so long as you didn't just waste the entire summer doing nothing useful.

Incidentally, I know some people who wouldn't have been able to make it through university, financially, without taking a relatively menial job that 'put money in their pocket', both during term time and in the holidays. Student loans and bursaries only take you so far - are you saying these people (who include a couple of the brightest people I know) have no chance of getting a job with a high powered firm?

*Not every summer, obviously, but certainly their freshman and sometimes sophomore years.


Straight out of school, yes.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:41 pm UTC
by KestrelLowing
aoeu wrote:
Adacore wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:You cannot look an interviewer for Harvard Law or JPMorgan in the face and say "Well, my freshman year in college I wanted some money in my pocket, so I've been working at Subway for the past four years now" and expect them to think positively about your work ethic.

This is a curious statement, given I have friends who are now working at JPMorgan and Freshfields (I don't have many friends in Boston, so it'll have to be London lawfirms) who did exactly that*. Also, my university careers service always advised me that if you just said you were just 'travelling', employers would look down on you for it. They see you as an idle rich kid with no work ethic. You should be doing something valuable (like volunteering) with your time if you're not working. Maybe it's different in the UK, but while getting a summer internship placement in your penultimate year is important, before that it doesn't matter so long as you didn't just waste the entire summer doing nothing useful.

Incidentally, I know some people who wouldn't have been able to make it through university, financially, without taking a relatively menial job that 'put money in their pocket', both during term time and in the holidays. Student loans and bursaries only take you so far - are you saying these people (who include a couple of the brightest people I know) have no chance of getting a job with a high powered firm?

*Not every summer, obviously, but certainly their freshman and sometimes sophomore years.


Straight out of school, yes.


I think that some people may be arguing about the same thing, but as far as I know, and as far as I have been told, NO ONE hiring will look down on you for having a 'crappy' job. People need money, nearly everyone understands that. There is, however, a hierarchy:

No job < 'crappy' job < job related to field

The only reason you would get looked down on for having a crappy job by an employer is if someone else had a job related to their field - everything else equal.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:46 pm UTC
by kikko
A job now to get hired later is something I haven't thought of. I checked out some positions related to my major (I actually want to go to some type of medical-related professional school,though not sure yet which one, but am doing physics/math now). Right now I have the ability to help with research (or something similar) with some space program my professor does with a local military base, and am considering that. Also I volunteered (with help from a professor) to help a local science museum build a new exhibit.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 1:14 am UTC
by apricity
I definitely agree with the advice that having experience will be much more likely to get you a job later. Take an unpaid internship in the area you want to go into. Especially if you're applying to med school, you need every experience you can get in order to stand out, and the more related it is to the field you want to go into, the more likely you are to actually get into the program or job you want later on.

Another really important aspect of a job that I don't think has been mentioned yet is that with jobs come references. Any job or higher ed program you apply to later will request references, and if you have a mixture of school and work references, you are a stronger candidate. Jobs also can be listed on resumes, which is the very first thing that anyone will see when you apply for their job.

What I recommend is that you read some job descriptions for the type of career you think you will want after college, or the programs you will apply to. They all post requirements, so you'll want to find an entry-level position that will teach you the most common skills requested in those job descriptions. These will often include many things that you can only learn on a job rather than in class, like office skills or actual experience with people with medical issues.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:08 am UTC
by doogly
What Lanicita said.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:48 pm UTC
by Vangor
In this economy and depending on course load you might say there is a luxury of time for a job, luxury of having a job, and luxury of not needing a job.

kikko wrote:I checked out some positions related to my major (I actually want to go to some type of medical-related professional school,though not sure yet which one, but am doing physics/math now). Right now I have the ability to help with research (or something similar) with some space program my professor does with a local military base, and am considering that. Also I volunteered (with help from a professor) to help a local science museum build a new exhibit.


Sounds fantastic, and I would keep doing this including in a volunteering capacity. Even if you cannot find something in the field, something which is in the physical location is great for making connections, being immersed, knowing opportunities, etc.. And if people know the entire reason you took the job is to be available, be around, all the better. Be a janitor in the science museum and you'll hear about new exhibits faster and people will think of you more.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:37 pm UTC
by LaserGuy
kikko wrote:I'm 19, and get my tuition/fees/books payed for by the school. I live with my parents, and they give me so much money for gas/food/etc. that I don't need to actually get a job to pay for things, but still need to plan and keep a budget. When people ask me where I work, I always feel looked down on from not working and still getting the support of my parents (we never had a ton of money, but my dad came across a great job two years ago...his salary is now six times that of ten years ago and twice what it was three years ago), even by those who still live with their parents but don't get money for gas and stuff from them. I hear people talk bad about those who don't have to work through college all the time all the time, especially if they aren't getting a perfect 4.0, moreso about males than females, and the teachers seem to have this attitude also. I recently started going out with a girl who works two jobs and goes to college full time for a chemistry degree, and still doesn't have much due to her family situation, but she hasn't asked about what I do yet. Otherwise, if I ever need money I sell stuff which I bought for overly cheap during highschool, like yesterday I just got $240 for comic books I had bought for $40 (I bought them to resell them whenever a time came I needed cash) because I needed to fix something in my car.

Anyways, I'm thinking about getting a job as a lifeguard this summer, not that I need it (and I'd be taking classes and my parents give me enough), but feel like I should, and am starting to feel a bit bad about my parents giving me money.


Personal opinion: if you can avoid getting a job while you are actually taking classes, this is a good thing. Even working 10-15 hours a week while going to class is enough to put a serious dent in your academic performance if you aren't careful. While there are some people who can balance this sort of situation (or who have no choice in the matter), given that you do have the choice, it seems foolish to me to risk your academic prospects at this point. If you really want an extra bit of spending money, and don't want to work that many hours, you might consider tutoring high school or intro level classes in your field. You can easily make several times as much per hour* as you would working at some minimum wage job, and can set your own hours and availability.

In the summers, a full time job is an excellent idea. As others have said, an internship/co-op in your field is probably best. But any work you do is fine. Think of the long game here. Your financial situation right now is really good. Pretty much any money that you make now can be money saved. If you work at $8/hour, 40 hours per week, for 16 weeks over 4 years, that's about $20000. That's a good start toward a downpayment for a house (realistically won't probably be saving all of this, but even if you save half, it's still a fantastic position to be in).

*Tutoring is sort of weird in this respect. Check out the going rates in your area. People assume that tutors who under-charge aren't very good, and tutors who overcharge are better. When I first started tutoring, I was barely able to get any work for, I think it was $10/hour ($15 was probably closer to average in my area). Since I wasn't getting much work, I figured I should raise my prices to try to get the most out of the little work that I was getting. When I tried against at $20/hour the next year, I was swamped with so many calls and that I had to turn away probably half of them. The following year I was able to get a more manageable workload by bumping my prices to $25/hour. In affluent areas in the United States, you can apparently get away with charging $100/hour or more.

[edit]If you're planning on going into a medical-related field as you suggest, volunteering at a hospital, senior's home, etc. is a huge asset. Here in Canada, at least, the medical schools are sufficiently competitive that it's practically impossible to get in one without this sort of experience.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:46 pm UTC
by apricity
LaserGuy wrote:Pretty much any money that you make now can be money saved. If you work at $8/hour, 40 hours per week, for 16 weeks over 4 years, that's about $20000. That's a good start toward a downpayment for a house (realistically won't probably be saving all of this, but even if you save half, it's still a fantastic position to be in).
This. I basically lived off a monthly allowance during college, and starting in sophomore year I worked part-time as well. I saved about 10 grand of that, which was a very very good position to be in when I couldn't find a full-time job for 8 months after I graduated. It was the difference between having to move back in with my mom after graduation, which might have doomed me to a long time living in my crappy home state, and being able to stay, and eventually find a job, in the city where I wanted to be.

Re: Are you looked down on for not having a job in college?

Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:07 pm UTC
by Darryl
I would suggest, honestly, not getting a job if you are fine on your current budget. At least not during the semester. While it may not look the best to an employer, if you don't need a job, and you get the job that some other student does need, it's kinda dickish.

I would instead look into volunteering and campus activities, or even accelerating your program by taking extra classes. Having activities on your co-curricular transcript is another thing that employers like to see.