EmploymentSocial Issues

To Work Or Not To Work?

Who needs a job? In my experience as a current high school student, it has been widely contested whether or not students should do some kind of volunteering, cooperative education, or even take on a part-time job. In my opinion, it should be up to the student. Do they want to sacrifice their social life? Can they risk the possibility of a lower academic standing? What are the circumstances the student is living in? If I had the option to choose between balancing a job and school or just doing school, I would take the former.

It is a great way for youth to get work experience. The key word here is “experience”. Paid or unpaid, work experiences help youth practice their career readiness skills. It increases the youth’s knowledge of specific occupational skills and workplace settings. Work experiences are very critical to a youth’s transition into adulthood. One thing to keep in mind is whether you are volunteering, doing co-op or working part-time, you are making connections. The world thrives on collaboration and with more connections, comes more opportunities to land a spot in the workforce. 

Some interesting facts about youth in the workforce:

  • Work-based learning could potentially  increase attendance in school, decrease dropout rates, and be more engaging to students (Medrich, Calderon, & Hoachlander, 2002). 

  • Work experiences for youth with disabilities during high school (paid or unpaid) help them acquire jobs at higher wages after they graduate (Colley & Jamison, 1998).

  • The average young person holds 6.3 jobs between 18 and 25 (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013a). 

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) says “Globally, youth are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.” Youth is defined people between the age of 15 and 24 according to the ILO. 

To Work Or Not To Work?

Looking to the future after high school is over, university has a wealth of working opportunities for me to grab. Being able to work for student-run businesses, having an internship placement, or doing more volunteer work, co-op placements, and part-time jobs, help me get those experiences. I realized this to be especially important as I pursue post-secondary studies. Many work opportunities in university have a salary and that is definitely great for myself and other students due to the high costs of tuition that we eventually have to pay off. They can also enhance and enrich my experience in university. A “break from the books” I would call it.

Going back to the key word “experience” it would be safe to say that potential employers are paying more attention to the work experiences that you already have and not just your credentials. The connections you make are so important to your future. Grab every work opportunity you possibly can so you can have a better shot at getting that position you want at your dream job.  


To Work Or Not To Work?
Lawrence Cheung is a writer at INKspire. He's currently an undergrad student in Carleton University's Political Science Program.