Reflections of a Student Employee

This week we are featuring a special post by GW student employee Ryan Taylor as part of National Student Employment Week

“Hi! Are you here for the Career Center or Study Abroad?”

“The Career Center”

“OK, how may I help you?”

I don’t think that college life can be complete without having a work experience that you learn to manage. Working teaches responsibility, sure, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Working as a student helps to bring out some of the innate passions that we may or may not realize are even there. I’ve worked several places in my time as a GW student but, ultimately, the most rewarding part of the student life work experience is the lessons I’ve learned along the way.   Whenever I start something new, I have the tendency to hit the ground running and sometimes I’ve tripped. The times I’ve stumbled were often the times I tried to assimilate to a cause I wasn’t about- or that I wasn’t about at that time.

“This is just my first time here at the Career Center and I’m just looking for a job”

“Ok, well we’ve got some great resources here at the Career Center. Have you looked at GWork?”

I remember having jobs as a student, (as I’m sure we all have) that were seemingly arduous. What I didn’t come to appreciate until later was what the job taught me about myself. My mindset changed this year when I started working as a Career Ambassador in the GW Career Center, where people come in, looking for someone to help them.  I’d say sure and offer whatever help I could give.  Little by little however, I’ve learned that the kind of work I want to do is to help people on a regular basis similar to the work I’ve done as an ambassador.  This was profound to me, because regardless of which major I chose, the kind of work I had wanted to do had to have this one-on-one interaction. I was certainly blessed to figure this out early on. I was even more blessed to learn my next lesson:  the true purpose of any job.

Amidst the job qualifications and the descriptions, there is always one hidden requirement.  I believe that requirement would be phrased as the willingness to make something better for someone else.  Whichever path you choose is designed to help someone in some way.  Fundamentally, I believe the purpose of work is, on some level, to help people.   This isn’t necessarily a profound revelation, but we lose sight of that when we apply for jobs or do homework. It turns into a game of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” in which if you don’t ask the right people or answer the right questions, it slowly turns into a project of what job can get ME where I’m trying to go in the fastest and easiest way.  My job isn’t just to provide advice or critiques; it’s to provide help to people in need.  While all kinds of help exist, I don’t think that the basic purpose of a job is any different. Whatever path you choose is designed to help someone in some way. And whatever you do, do it with excellence.

“So if you have any questions or just need some general resume advice, feel free to drop in!”

“Thanks a lot, all this information was actually helpful!”

Where does excellence come into play? It’s a beautiful thing when you’ve found your calling, and it’s also a great thing when you know just what your helping style is.  When you’re able to combine the two, I believe that unlocks your potential to be excellent.  It becomes much easier to provide help when you’ve managed to find both of these concepts and invest yourself in helping someone.  I encourage anyone reading this to reflect on their helping style; it’s an opportunity to maximize your growth in the real world.

Ryan is a senior at GW majoring in computer engineering. He currently serves as a student Career Ambassador at the GW Career Center and is a finalist for the GW Student Employee of the Year.

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