In Bangladesh, most students grow up hearing about or observing the trend of studying at least up to graduation, enter the phase of job searching, and then after a lot of toils, get a job. But in this fast-paced world, education is supposed to complement the chosen career. This is why working alongside studying to acquire practical workplace knowledge and skills is essential.
Working experience can start from any type of work; unfortunately, this is frowned upon in our society at times. Sometimes our parents end up saying, "Now is the time to study, and we will bear your finances." But work experience during student life is primarily not about financial independence.
When students struggle with the job search after graduation, they figure out that most recruiters ask for experiences, and candidates with previous work-environment experience are getting an edge in the selection process. After trying for a couple of jobs, many students settle to study for BCS (Bangladesh Civil Service) which is not a piece of cake, like many says. Just like this, many graduates keep on searching for jobs but fall behind even with an above-average score.
In this regard, part-time jobs can be a viable solution. Part-time jobs are paid works with reduced work hours, and students can come in shifts to combine with their class hours. However, there is no fixed structure regarding the type of tasks assigned, and it entirely depends on the organisation. In the context of our country, where education system is not really designed in a career-friendly way, acquiring workplace experiences and special skills is not possible without internships and part-time jobs.
Shockingly enough, a report from the World Bank says that one of three graduates remain unemployed even after a year or two past their graduation. On the flip side, employers report that they have a lack of skilled workforce. While the solution to this goes a long way up to redesigning education system, part-time job trends among students can actively reduce this gap.
In Dhaka, in the past few years, the trend of working while being a student has increased significantly. Nonetheless, it is still not prominent like the economically progressive countries of the world and lacks encouragement from the socio-economic environment. In many cases, parents and teachers suggest focusing on studies and not to contribute to work. To cease this misconception, it has been proven that part-time jobs alongside education help students to master the practical application of skills, deal with people in real-time, and face challenges upfront.
Looking into the story of Tasbir Ahmed, a third-year student of North South University and a customer service Shift Leader in Food Panda will provide some real-life pictures. He had the drive of doing something from the very beginning of his university life, which led him to apply for part-time jobs. He joined Torun Digital as a content writer and after one and a half years, found his ways into Food Panda in a leading position, unlike his peers without previous experience.
Sharing his experience, Tasbir said, "As I got admitted into a private university, I always had that pressure of proving my worth to others by doing something apart from my studies." Now his part-time job helps him boost confidence, as he says, "Now I am more confident about dealing with real-life challenges. I know how to pitch an idea, communicate professionally and lead a team." He believes that these experiences he is gathering from Food Panda, a multinational company, will help him stand out in his career ahead.
Sometimes, parents do not understand the necessity of part-time jobs, especially if the family is financially stable. But a part-time job is not always about financial independence, it is a career necessity. Shehrin Kazi, a second-year student of IBA, however, had support from her family. She thinks that youths should work on their personal skill development, keeping the global growth speed in mind, and part-time jobs can really be a great start to achieving this target.
"When I first joined a consulting firm as a part-time employee, I was just in my first year of university. Unlike many other families in our country, my parents have been very supportive about it since day one, realising the importance of skill development and personal capacity building while still being a student."
Mehedi Islam Mahin, a third-year student of Narayanganj College, works as a part-time salesman in a local retail shop Kotha Telnet. He says that there are considerable gaps in his college compared to reputed universities in the country. So he felt the urge to get involved in actual work, help the family and do something for independence.
"The scenario here is not the same as in Dhaka because most students like us in district cities lack confidence in taking any initiative. So, I felt that working and earning is a better way out instead of studying and being unsure about career," explained Mehedi. When students like him receive practical experience, they become entrepreneurially skilled. Hence, many students even start their own venture.
Mukit Anis, an independent marketing consultant at Grumpy Coffee Marketing Services and an adjunct faculty at BRAC University, provided valuable insights into this matter. "I actively inspire students to get part-time jobs in order to comprehend the value of education and understand the structure of execution. Even for specialised jobs and further studies, some work experience is needed. So it is extremely important to acquire that experience while learning," remarked Mukit.
He also believes that convincing parents to do part-time jobs is another challenge for students, as society here pre-dominantly demeans this. As for the economy of the country, the inclusion of students would surely add value to it in the long run as this promises an efficient workforce.
The writer is a sophomore at IBA, University of Dhaka.