Welcome to the real world

Fewer students may be working, but there are opportunities out there for creative minds.

by Martin Jaakola

I decided to go to college despite not having stellar grades in high school, exceptional athletic achievements or flashy extracurricular accomplishments. I knew college was going to be expensive. Moreover, with the ambitious plan of studying philosophy, I should have known that the $20-per-hour internships and job offers straight out of college — the ones my engineer friends were thrilled about — were out of reach. I figured who wouldn’t want to give a college student capable of critical thinking and analyzing archaic texts a high-paying job?

Of course, I’m being facetious. While deciding on a major, it was clear that with the demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors and without many scholarship options, I was going to have to pay for college out of my pocket. This is one reasons I’m surprised about the ongoing frustration over rising tuition, unpaid internships and limited work study options.

While it may be true, as the Minnesota Daily reported earlier this month, that fewer college students are working while in school and job prospects after graduation are poor for many humanities majors, an old adage comes to mind. Welcome to the real world. The economy is still recovering, and there is high competition for jobs, especially entry-level positions traditionally held by students.

While the future sounds bleak, there are opportunities for those like me who have chosen to study something interesting to them, which likely won’t yield many tangible benefits in the real world.

First, attending community college for two years before transferring to the University of Minnesota through the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, or MnTC, is one option I took advantage of. Furthermore, a number of companies that are constantly hiring, such as UPS, offer financial support to students through work study programs.

While it’s true that for many of us there aren’t paid internships available, there are alternatives to the traditional intern track. Leading student groups, doing volunteer work or finding an unpaid internship for a few hours each week are manageable while working a job. These can also lead to valuable opportunities that may lead to a paid job.

Balancing work, debt and college is a hassle for many students. These days, finding opportunities will take some extra creativity, but they are out there.