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The quest for experience – the paradoxical truth for a university student

The pressure is on and the struggle is real. From our first day as university students, everyone tells us how important it is to get a student job in order to acquire a fair amount of relevant experience, which will eventually open the doors to the business community after graduation. But how are we supposed to get this experience, when it’s practically impossible to find a student job?

|   29. May 2017

By Milan Stojkovic, Student at CBS

“Sorry. We’ve chosen to move on with another candidate.” “We regret to inform you that we found the right person for the job.” “Thank you very much for your interest. Your application was very interesting, but you did not get the job.” “You don’t have the required skillset for this position.” The list is endless. As a job-seeking student, I’ve been rejected more times than on a Friday night trying to pick up girls.

I get it. When it comes to finding a student job – or whatever kind of resumé-boosting work you are looking for – it looks more impressive on your resumé that you have three years of experience in one student job, two years of experience in another, and oh yeah, in addition to all the work experience, you’ve also spent a semester abroad, of course! But what’s the point of applying for a student job when the requirements are practically the same as for a full-time position?

Isn’t the whole point of having a student job that you get to do work that doesn’t require as much experience? That you help a company or an organisation out while simultaneously sharpening your academic and professional skills?

Today, it seems as if most companies would rather hire a student with a poorer educational background and more relevant work experience, than one with e.g. a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Clearly, there’s a paradox here: Whether you are still at university or have already graduated, no one wants to hire you because you don’t have enough work experience or the right kind of experience. Not many companies seem to be willing to stick their neck out and give a student a fair chance to acquire all this precious experience. Not having enough experience and constantly being rejected by companies, organisations, NGOs and so forth, is a lot like dating in high school. You don’t exactly know what you’re looking for, but you still end up kissing 10 total strangers and wake up with a massive headache, next to a girl (or a guy) you don’t remember the name of. But at least you tried! You were “untested”, gave it a shot, and got some sort of experience, which, by the way, is more expensive than gold these days (irony alert).

So the only thing to do when it comes to applying for student jobs, is to throw yourself to the lions. Unfortunately, however, at the end of the day, it’s not up to you.

Therefore, we sincerely ask you, dear business community, to kindly solve this ‘Catch 22’ situation and give a student (and a graduate) a chance. We also want to take a big bite of this cake you refer to as “experience”, even if you only need us to respond to e-mails and make sure that the coffee machine is working properly. At least, that would be a start. Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

The quest for experience – the paradoxical truth for a university studentby

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