[Campus Commentary]Earn and learn outside the classroomMy cousin is a good and intelligent man who is very close to me, almost like my own brother. Although he has been living in Australia since he was 7 years old, we correspond with each other.
Recently, he offered me some life advice. “Dear sister,” he wrote, “You need to learn to make money for yourself. I heard that you’ve begun to tutor a few younger students, but I think that you should do more than that to learn the value of labor and experience. You’re a university student and an independent adult.”
He had a point. But I had to ask myself: Would it be possible to hold two jobs while in college in Korea? On the other hand, do we have to put our hearts and souls solely into studying?
Holding down two jobs is very common among college students in Korea. There is a general understanding that students should focus on their studies, but students are realizing that those who did nothing but study during their four years in college find it hard to enter the employment market.
It is normal for college students to set high goals during vacation breaks, but it is hard for most to achieve them. Getting a part-time job or two is part of those goals.
According to a survey on an employment portal site, 90 percent of university students respondents try to find a job during their vacation. Juniors tend to want to get a part-time job to make money and out of curiosity.
College seniors focus on making money and acquiring relevant experience for entering a profession.
Two of the most common jobs that students find are tutoring and waiting tables. Most students prefer tutoring jobs (like the one I have) because they pay relatively more money by the hour. Working part-time in a restaurant or standing behind the counter at a convenience store doesn’t pay much, though many agree that doing it once is a good experience.
If you want something more special, however, there are plenty of things that young people can choose.
A cool example is bungee jumping ― not to jump, but to work securing jumpers’ safety equipment. Or check out the many sporting events in Korea.
A friend of mine, Kim, a fan of Park Ji-sung, said he found a part-time job during the English Premier League team Manchester United’s visit to Korea on their Asian tour. That was an exciting, though temporary job. If you are a male over 175 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) tall, you can work at Gyeongbok Palace as one of the royal gatekeepers, reenacting royal guard rituals. This job pays 55,000 won for six hours of work a day. Working at a race track testing race horses’ urine for drugs is also an offbeat part-time job.
You can earn money without stepping out of the house by trading in stocks or investing in funds. Of course, there is a risk of losing your capital. One student at my university told me she was investing in stocks, not just for the money, but also for her career. When she looks for a financial sector job, her experience will surely be helpful.
True learning can occur outside the classroom. And it’s good for the young to both make money, and accumulate experience.
*The writer is a reporter for the Sookmyung Times news magazine at Sookmyung Women’s University.
Yoo Kang Hyun-ji