August 19, 2016

Benefits of Doing Holiday Part-Time Jobs by University Students

When students return to university after enjoying their vacation, their friends and teachers are very curious about what they did during the holidays. Usually, some students say they attended a skill development course, others say they visited friends and relatives living in other towns, a few lucky ones say they went abroad with their families and a fewer number say they helped their parents with the family business or with household chores, or stayed at home and did nothing special. In the West, it is nothing unusual for young people, even those from wealthy families, to spend their whole vacation, or part of it, doing some kind of work, even very humble ones, such as, cutting grass or hedges for neighbours, serving as waiters in restaurants or as assistants in public libraries to earn some pocket money. Parents in the West train their children to be independent from a very young age. They want them to think for themselves, be creative, be emotionally strong and possess all round development so that they will not only survive but also succeed in the challenging and competitive environment of a Western society that is goal oriented, and values time, hard work, individuality, and creativity. Part of the training to be independent involves encouraging young people to do part-time jobs so that they learn to value labour, and the money earn from work, and deal with people in a work environment. In Myanmar, most parents regard their children who are pursuing university education as being still too young to start working, or being below the dignity of an educated person to be doing unskilled or manual work, and the university students themselves may harbour the same feelings. As market economy expands in the country, requiring a better educated workforce with new skills, and the number of matriculates growing from about ten thousand about forty years ago to more than two hundred thousand within the past decade, resulting in the equal growth in the number of university students, university students need to be better prepared to be able to compete in a more demanding job market. The sooner university students start preparing for the job market, the more likely they will succeed in the stiff competition. One effective way to prepare for the looming competition by university students is doing part-time jobs during their long summer vacation as in the West and they will discover that the benefits are numerous. The recent enthusiastic participation of young people from universities and high schools in the activities to raise donations for flood victims using various strategies shows their creativity, their ability to work in groups, and their willingness to work hard, if they have a strong belief that something is beneficial for themselves, for other citizens and the nation. What then are the long-term benefits of doing summer jobs for students? Tara Struyk in her Internet article of 4th June 2010, Top Benefits Of A Summer Job – Besides Pay, discusses five benefits of working during school vacation for young people. The first benefit, boosting confidence, is promoting belief in oneself that one is able to do certain things. Struyk says that confidence is increased at workplaces when one overcomes challenges in learning a new skill, surviving a stressful work environment or learning to deal with a hard-driving boss or a nasty coworker. According to Struyk, time-management, the second benefit, is deciding priority for the day and learning how to juggle things to be done to make it happen. She states that time-management skill is promoted by having to prioritize, plan and learn to get a realistic sense of how much one can actually accomplish in the work environment. The third benefit, a leg up, is meant having an advantage over others, and Struyk says that a student can have a leg up by possessing something to put on one’s resume, even though it may be experience of having worked at a place like a burger shop. The fourth benefit that Struyk mentions is getting to know you. This is discovering about oneself in relation to a workplace. Students come to learn many things about themselves from the experience of working in part-time summer jobs such as their likes and dislikes, and are able to evaluate their strengths and work on their weaknesses. The final benefit that Struyk mentions about the benefits of doing summer jobs is the opportunity to broaden social/networking circle. She remarks that a student is likely to spend a lot of time with people of their own age. She points out that, on the other hand, when working, a student is likely to be working with a range of very different people which is not only good for one’s social skills, but it can also create a powerful impact on one’s resume by including their recommendations. Struyk advises that as people need references all throughout their career, they ought to make an effort to connect with the people they meet along the way. Apart from the five benefits that Tara Struyk mentions, there are also three other benefits, in my view, that Myanmar university students can enjoy by doing part-time summer jobs. Chief among them is development of communication skills. Working in an organization, either government, business, or social, involves meeting and interacting with a wide range of people, and gives students the opportunity to observe how more experienced co-workers communicate in real life situations. They also have the chance to learn why some people succeed in achieving their goals, why some fail to do so in specific situations, such as, presentations, negotiations, discussions at meetings, and giving instruction and feedback to staff, and how to interact with specific groups of people such as clients, superiors, subordinates, and co-workers. Students are thus able to learn a whole new set of much-needed communication strategies which will not only help them in their future careers, but also, when, as senior university students, they strive to develop their leadership, management and cooperative skills. Another set of benefits is gaining the ability to gauge the value of the subjects they are studying, realizing which other skills they would need to survive and succeed in real-life working environment, appreciating the role of education in career progression, becoming motivated to complete higher education and comprehending the amount of time and effort people have to put in to earn money. The third set of benefits is the development of entrepreneurship spirit, a strong desire to acquire the skills needed by entrepreneurs, and the appreciation of the role of innovation and risk taking in starting enterprises, in students who have experience of doing part-time jobs. The above sets of benefits results from being able to observe the communication, management, technical, scientific, artistic and other innovations taking place in the world-of- work. Since, in the past, part-time job culture is almost non-existent among Myanmar university students, there are hardly any part-time jobs available either in the public sector or the private sector for them to do during their vacation. The eight benefits derived from students doing part-time vacation jobs have been presented from the point of view of one of the group of beneficiaries, that is, students. However, it must be noted that there are at least five benefits for employing organizations too. Firstly, by initiating a holiday part-time job programme, organizations can solve some of their labour needs for intelligent workers during peak seasons like pre-Thingyan, Thadinkyut, Christmas and New Year. Secondly, they can identify those with special talents from among the students doing part-time jobs and recruit them as full-time staff for more important positions once they graduate. Thirdly, organizations can learn the needs and wants of young people through their young part-time employees and based on this knowledge of a large portion of their customers, they can introduce new products for young people, make their current products more suitable for young people, and initiate more effective marketing strategies. Fourthly, the students it has given part-time jobs, together with their families may serve as a channel to promote good publicity for the organization, resulting an increase in the number of loyal customers. Fifthly, employers can contribute to the skills development of successive generations of human resource, thereby, fulfilling their corporate social responsibility as well as their duty to the nation. In conclusion, it is suggested that as vacation part-time jobs can be beneficial to both university students as well as the organizations that employ them, they should be popularized in the country like in more developed countries. It is also suggested that for the programme to succeed, universities and private and public organizations need to form partnerships in this important undertaking that will not only enable university students to gain professional skills, but also promote human resource development for the country. ***** Writer’s address (Not to be published): No 39 Shin Saw Pu Pagoda Road, Sanchaung, Yangon


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