The benefits of remote work for those who have already spent time in the workforce are easy to identify. But what about remote work for college students in Generation Z (those born between the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s)? Or those who potentially face trying to find employment during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Some people might think college students don’t need the benefits of remote work or aren’t interested in working from their dorm rooms or COVID-19 sanctuaries. But many college students are discovering the ways that telecommuting can help them balance work and school, while also getting real-world experience. Remote work functions just like an internship—only paid!
Here are the seven ways remote work can help college students now, amid COVID-19, and also give them a leg up on their competition in the future.
1. Remote Work for College Students Fits Busy Schedules
College students are busy. They carry a full load of courses and some have extracurricular activities, too. However, COVID-19 may have eliminated some extracurriculars, giving college students more time to consider a job. So for those who want or need to work, finding a job to fit their schedule is a difficult task.
Many jobs that accommodate the schedules of college students require shift work. Even then, arranging a schedule that works around the ever-changing needs of a college student or COVID-19 protocols isn’t easy. If a special event, social activity, or exam comes up at school, flexibility is vital. However, not every manager can accommodate such requests, posing a problem.
Working from home (or the dorms) as a freelancer can let college students have more control over their super hectic schedules. Not only can they adjust their workload as they need to, but they can also work from anywhere, anytime.
2. Students Can Gain Valuable Experience in Their Career Field
Many college students pursue internships as a way to gain experience in their career field. Unfortunately, many of those internships are also unpaid. Even if they offer college credit, not all students want—or can afford—to take on an unpaid internship. Some students need to earn an income to help them get by in college, and some simply aren’t interested in menial part-time jobs that don’t fit their career goals.
Working from home as a freelancer can be a great way for college students to gain experience in their chosen career fields. Plus, they can work around their hectic schoolwork or jobs that require social distancing and mask-wearing. They can target positions that are related to their major—even if only partially. A journalism major could target positions that allow them to transcribe or proofread. An international studies major could gain beginner experience translating. Even experience that is remotely related or in the same industry as their major could be valuable experience once they graduate.
A lot of students can feel discouraged when they leave school. They find that many entry-level positions require at least some experience. Remote freelancing can be a great way to gain that experience in their chosen field. Oftentimes, employers aren’t worried if their freelancers have a college degree. They just want to know they can do the work.
3. Remote Work Allows Students to Keep Their Jobs Regardless of Where Life Takes Them
The lives of young adults can change a lot—and quickly—just look at 2020 in relation to COVID-19. They might transfer to a school across the country or decide to study abroad next semester. Or transition to fully remote learning. Regardless of these changes, remote jobs allow those college students to keep building their experience and to maintain consistent income—even when consistency and routine wavers.
In addition, the rush to find a prime summer job is no longer a necessity. It becomes a win-win for employers since they don’t have to keep hiring for the same position over and over. Plus, the student knows they have a job and income they can count on—as well as relevant experience.
4. Students Can Support Themselves
As mentioned, many students pursue unpaid internships while in college. But that doesn’t always work for everyone. With the rising costs of higher education and the ever-increasing cost of living, even a bit of income is integral. With remote work, students have the ability to support themselves while they are in school.
A contract writer can earn much more freelancing than they can in any part-time job on campus. And they can build a portfolio of work that they can put to use when it’s time to look for their first “real” job upon graduation.
5. Students Can Obtain Credible References
One of the things that college students sometimes forget is the references they can get for a job well done. When employers hire for remote jobs, one of the first questions they often ask is if the candidate has worked virtually. The more experience someone has with a particular task or skill, the better they get at it.
In this manner, students can build a list of references for post-graduation jobs. They will also have a list of trustworthy professionals who will attest to the student’s abilities. Positive references are valuable in any situation. But references that speak to an individual’s ability to manage their time, self-direct their priorities, and motivate themselves on a daily basis can go a long way in establishing the dependability and professionalism of a new graduate.
6. Students Can Build an Extensive Professional Network
Generation Z is lucky when it comes to networking. When Generation X first started networking, it was a time-intensive task. Most often, networking involved mixers and cocktail parties with cringe-worthy icebreakers. Nowadays, all college students have to do is put that remote job and their virtual network to work for them.
Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, networking for college students can be as easy as asking to connect to anyone who works for their company. They don’t have to wait until the company holiday party to exchange business cards. Today, professionals and students can reach out online to anyone they meet to build a network.
College students can cultivate substantial virtual networks just by reaching out. This can open up the doors for an extended network—without even stepping foot outside their dorm room.
7. Students Could Take Steps Toward Finding Their First “Real” Job
Just like any internship, a remote job can lead a student to their first real job upon graduation. Any job that focuses on a student’s area of study can offer real-world experience. But the added skill of remote work experience could be the one that sets one college graduate apart from the rest.
Mutual respect and admiration between remote workers is rife. So even if the work-from-home job doesn’t lead to full-time employment after graduation, the connections will prove helpful. That could lead to job opportunities based on the reputation, references, and experiences the student gained with their remote work employer during college.
College students might be one demographic that doesn’t immediately pop into mind when thinking about remote work. But it is, in fact, the younger generations who are changing the world of work. It’s built around the priorities and work-life integration they want to create in their own lives.
Thankfully, Generation Y/millennials have paved the way for other generations. By making remote work opportunities more the norm, future generations can carry the torch. Now they can pass the work from home baton off to Generation Z and the college students who can benefit from telecommuting just as much as the generations before them.
And when the students of today become members of the “sandwich generation,” perhaps the idea of remote work will be less of a “perk.” Hopefully, remote work will become an employment standard.
Are you a college student with a remote job? Do you have any tips on remote work for college students?Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!
iStock Image: damircudic, skynesher, Darren415
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