Student or Employee?

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Jennifer Li, a junior at Singapore American School, is a full-time student and a part-time intern. She has successfully found a way to profit in both finance and experience from something that she’s passionate about. For almost half a year now, Jennifer has been working with a yoga company by filming and producing promotional videos for their business.

Today I got to speak with Jenn about her adventures in the “real world” and thought that the discoveries and concerns she has could benefit all students worried about life independent from high school.

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The most relevant skill that Jennifer has so far gained from interning is the importance of time management and determination. Balancing her school and internship assignments is a constant challenge. Although it sounds overwhelming, Jennifer asserts that “having so many things on [her] plate has forced [her] to stay productive.”

While she has significantly less free time, the constant work schedule has fueled her

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Behind the scenes at Jennifer’s (left) internship.

determination, constantly motivating her to stay on top of all of her assignments. However, Jennifer recognizes that this demanding arrangement may not be for everyone. She argues that an out-of-school job would ideally benefit all students, but one would have to be “very determined and committed.” The work done for an internship is completely different from that of school.

“It’s not like a project where you can ask for an extended deadline if you fall behind. The person you work for is depending on you.”

An internship allows you to experience a level of responsibility that will be expected of all of us in the future once we’re adults. You’ll absolutely learn new methods to cope with responsibility in an internship, but drive and self-advocacy are essential from the beginning.

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Many (if not all) students will have an internship experience sometime in their lives. It’s very common for university students and graduates to hold such jobs, but Li argues that high school is the perfect time to become involved because “we have a lot more time now than we will in college.” No doubt, we need to anticipate the abundance of work hours that university will have in store for us. While we’re still in high school, we have more opportunities to indulge in personal hobbies.

Another advantage of working as a student is the fact that we’re in the comfort of home. Jennifer convinced me that “it’s good to ease into a job now because we’re still surrounded by our family and familiar things.” Once we’re in college, everything will be different. Now the fresh experience of having a job would be less stressful because we’re already used to managing our current situations.

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Since Jennifer earns a monthly paycheck, she has grasped real financial lessons that cannot be stimulated in a classroom. Through managing her money, Jennifer has learned the value of hard work. As students we’re obviously familiar with being rewarded for our effort; we work hard and in return receive good grades. For Jennifer, her job brought the principle of “hard work pays off” to life-emphasizing that “things won’t just fall into your lap, you need to actually put the work in.” It’s not about the money for Jenn, but she admits that “it’s cool to be a student making money […] to experience how to manage money before having to completely support [herself] as an adult.”

Through all the things that Jennifer has learned and is currently discovering from her internship, it’s obvious that the experiences gained from such jobs cannot be taught in any other way. Jennifer highlighted that the only way to learn what it’s like to have a job is by doing. Lucky for Jenn, she’s doing something that she loves and recommends.  Any student should grasp at the opportunity to pursue a professional application of their interests in preparation for the world ahead.

Author: Anjali Swarstad

Anjali Swarstad is currently a junior and working, for her second year, on The Eye. In her free time, Anjali enjoys making films, graphic design, and sharing goofs n' gaffs with her friends. She's excited to produce more videos this year, and can be contacted at swarstad30323@sas.edu.sg.

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