Guest Article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Being A Student Worker – A Response
After having read an article that we posted in February on being a student worker at a multinational corporation like BCG, which you can read here – Vibeke Greby Schmidt, wrote to us asking if she could share her side of the story as well. She wanted to talk about a different type of student job – one that’s not in an MNC. And of course, we happily obliged. Vibeke has a bachelor in International Business from CBS, and is currently studying Financial Engineering in London. She has had experience with Bain & Co, Nordea, IBM and several other companies, and now spends most of her time working in NGOs. She will be writing about her experiences from organisations in education, human rights and animal rights such as Dansk Flygtningehjælp, Teach First Denmark and Anima.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Being A Student Worker – A Response :
1 The responsibility
So your fellow students may be in charge of some excel models. However, how many of them can say that they are in charge of all the excel work in the entire organization. You are probably the only one who cares enough about excel to actually build models and track data. The only downside, nobody checks your work and if you screw up, you’ve potentially messed up a child’s future – might wanna check that “match” function twice.
2 The work
Chances are they can only afford one student assistant, meaning that your job is to free time for all the other people giving their whole life to the organization. It probably involves days with 9 hours of coffee-making, cleaning or standing in a booth. The good news is you don’t care, because you are convinced that you are making a difference.
3 The involvement
NGOs often have to think outside the box. You need to do whatever it takes to get your message out, recruit volunteers or to get the funding. From cooking with murderers in a prison to traveling to Geneva to join a meeting in the UN about climate-changes. You might even find yourself lying in underwear covered in blood on Rådhuspladsen – all for a cause you believe in.
4 The hours
Your fellow students might complain about working 20-25 hours a week alongside their studies, but you will gladly skip all your classes to work instead. International Business Strategy just doesn’t seem that important, when your colleagues need you to prepare the assessment days for 72 candidates – if you are lucky you even get to laminate!
5 The people
I have personally eaten lunch with more than five CEOs. Sure, the organisation might only have 2 employees, but still it sounds cool. Working in an NGO has given me the opportunity to meet some of the most fantastic, dedicated and brilliant people. Even five minutes with my former colleague in Teach First Denmark –often just to make serve him his coffee - was often more inspiring than attending a leadership seminar with one of my corporate jobs.
6 The network
Working in a NGO means that everyone knows you – or at least your facebook posts. You will come to the important realization that social media spamming is totally okay when it is for a good cause, and you will learn to pretend you do not notice that everyone else might have a different opinion and suddenly unfollows you.
7 The exposure
In an NGO you will get to work with several incredible challenging tasks – however often not on purpose. In theory the senior staff is there to guide you, but odds are that you feel so bad taking some of the precious time that you’ll just try to figure it out yourself. And suddenly you are conducting a communication-workshop for 200 volunteers, because you forgot to mention that you in general speak so fast that nobody understands you.
8 The personal development
If you want a student job just to make money, never choose an NGO – focus on the personal development. Calling volunteers or donors 5 times a day, and chasing down candidates really taught me never take no for answer. You will also come to realize that this should not be applied as a dating strategy (!!) and thereby learning the importance of adjusting your approach to the target group.
9 The benefits
You can almost always count on getting accepted into all kinds of events as your CV stands out – even though it might make the guy screening it laugh instead of impresses him. Furthermore, you can make a karma-deal with your banker and consulting friends. They get some of your good karma in exchange for a fancy dinner, because you haven’t had anything beside the dry bread and the canned beans your work got for free from the closest Fakta, in months!
10 The results
Starting work in NGOS is the best thing I ever did – and you do get hooked.
Suddenly you find yourself turning down the traditional consulting offer and instead signing a contract to be a teacher with Teach First Denmark in a disadvantaged elementary school for the next two years.
You can find challenges and impact in many jobs, so why not go for the one that’s actually working towards good cause.