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Earn while you learn
Resmi Jaimon
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June 14, 2007

'Aping the west' is probably the most popular reason for any trend that catches the fancy of India's youngsters today. And it's not without foundation either -- be it language or fashion, attitude or lifestyle, the impact western culture has on today's youth is undeniable.

Though the influence on popular culture is hard to miss, another 'western' trend is catching the fancy of today's youth. The need to gain financial independence earlier in life is gradually gaining popularity, with more young people entering the job market for part-time or summer jobs.

Earlier, students finished their studies, even higher studies, under the financial care of their parents. Parents funded their children's education and even took care of their pocket money to meet their everyday needs. Now, the attitude is gradually changing among youngsters. In their quest for greater independence, today's youth are taking on financial responsibilities at a younger age. They are now looking for opportunities to work part-time or taking up summer jobs while pursuing their academic interests.

What accounts for this new and increasingly popular trend? Here are some reasons:

Financial independence

Financial independence is one of the main factors motivating youngsters to work part-time. Whether you're a teenager or twenty-something, getting yourself a part-time job means you'll have that much extra dough to splurge on the latest gadgets, partying with friends, traveling, visiting entertainment zones and buying gifts for family and friends. 

As Balagopal Kaimal, a software engineer pursuing an MSc in information technology from Bharathidasan University, puts it, "I feel good for not having to depend on my parents for money. I pay for my stay, food, fees and books from my salary."

Work experience

Another section of part-timers is on the look out for work experience. Youngsters choose jobs that are related to their field of study or interest. This way, by the time they graduate, they have on their hands a resume with work experience � always a much-desired asset for fresh graduates.

Work experience also helps gain practical knowledge in a chosen field. However, the level of responsibility one is entrusted with depends on the level of expertise the firm is looking for and the degree of experience the student is seeking.

Utilise the time spent with an organisation to explore ideas, and test their practicality (with permission from your boss, of course) and who knows, you could just land yourself a permanent job!


Whether or not you enjoy being part of a summer placement programme, at institutions like the Indian Institute of Management, it is a part of the curriculum. Ajay Prasad, alumni of IIM, Kolkata and Strategy Consultant, Accenture Management Consulting, says, "Summer placements in IIM is not about the money as it is embedded in the curriculum." Ajay had the opportunity to work at P&G International, Singapore while pursuing his MBA studies. "One gets to see how a real firm is run," he adds. Needless to say, summer placements from an IIM almost guarantee an attractive pay packet, even running into lakhs in some cases.

Career enhancement

Full-time professionals wanting to pursue higher studies might also adopt the 'earn while you learn' strategy. Undertaking a correspondence course without giving up your day job is a practical and popular choice for many of today's young professionals. For instance, Abhilash S Mohan, a Senior Associate in an MNC, feels, "An MBA will definitely better my chances if I want to apply for a different post." However, for full-time employees, juggling a full-time job with part-time studies can leave them short on time. "I take two weeks' leave before exams and it is the only time I get to devote to prepare for examination," says Abhilash. 

Whatever the motivation for getting a part-time job, the benefits are there for you to reap. Learning about the work culture of an organisation and knowing what to expect when you finally enter the job market as a professional will be an asset. Learning to communicate well with team members, bosses or customers will also go a long way in preparing you for your future job.

Puneet Jethani, doing a 1-month unpaid summer internship at HSBC, Mumbai and handling multiple tasks like tele-calling and selling of products and also a part of investment banking team, says, "I am here to develop my public relation skills more than anything else."

A majority of part-timers, however, tend to stick with a job only for a short duration. Says Abhilash, "There are many who take up jobs to earn around Rs.18,000 a month and leave it to spent the money for buying electronic items." Only a small percentage of part-timers stay on for a longer period of time. Whatever the reason and the duration of your part-time job, make sure you learn as much as you can while you're there. It'll stand you in good stead when you enter the workplace as a professional.

Choosing the right job:

Even a month's experience will prove to be of value in the long run. But how do you go about choosing the right job?  Here are a few pointers:


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