Guest Article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Being A Student Worker – A Response

April 6, 2016  //  By:   //  DISCUSS, OFF CAMPUS, ON CAMPUS  //  No Comment

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
My latest workbook has 25 sheets, several 100.000s data points and had was evaluating all activities in the organization in terms of minutes spent to move one pupil one grade

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
Representing Teach First Denmark at DTU Career Fair


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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
A anti-fur protest (me on the left in the container) – and yes it was very cold in January!

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!


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
One of the many FB posts making sure everyone in my network took note of my wild Friday night.

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
One of the best experiences was being part of learning camp with ‘Lær For Livet’, where you teach children in foster-care or institutions both academically but also in terms of personal development.

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
One of the highlights in my life was meeting the founder of Teach For America, who has made teaching one of the most popular career options for Harvard graduates.

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
A torchlight procession with several thousand people – and of course, I lit someone’s banner on fire.

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
Two of the pupils I am coaching from one of the most disadvantaged schools in London.


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!


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
Joining a McKinsey woman as Future Leaders in Barcelona

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.


Via: Vibeke Schmidt
How I felt when signed my first full-time offer


About the Author :

Mihika is currently on her 6th semester of her bachelor in BA English and Organizational Communication. Just back from an exchange semester in Australia, when she's not thesis writing, she can be found scrolling through cat videos on the internet, at BASTARD - the board game cafe, having a drink with friends, or on the hunt for new Instagram shots. But lets be real, most of the time you'll probably find her taking a nap.

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