Working during holidays offers money and experience

by Tomas Nieto

Even though the weather is still blazing hot and students are wearing T-shirts and shorts, the holiday season is just around the corner. With consumers flocking to malls for holiday shopping, retailers everywhere are going to need extra help. This means college students interested in pocketing extra cash or building their resumes should start applying for jobs.

CNNMoney reports Toys R Us is planning to hire 45,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season. According to The Huffington Post, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world’s largest retailer, plans to hire more than 50,000 employees for the holiday season. Obviously, this is a great opportunity for students without previous work experience to get their first job.

I have worked retail for the past two years. I started in 2010 as a sales associate at Macy’s in the men’s formal-wear department.

I was one of the 65,000 people hired that year for the holiday season. This year, Macy’s is hiring 80,000 seasonal workers. This is a good sign holiday sales are predicted to continue growing for the retail giant, and hopefully for other retailers.

Some retailers even hire solely for Black Friday, where employees work one shift to help with the high volume of customers. This is a great option for students who don’t have the time to work the full season.

For employees who wish to continue working after the holiday season, there’s a good chance employers will keep dedicated workers. I, for one, have been working at Vans for the past year. I was hired during last year’s holidays and was kept year-round. The Denver Post reports Toys R Us kept 15 percent of last year’s holiday workers. Target Corp. kept 30 percent of its seasonal employees year-round. Evidently, employers are looking for workers who prove themselves during the holiday season.

Earning extra money and building your resume are just some of the many benefits of working while in college. In 2009, a study by U.S. News & World Report revealed college freshmen at a four-year university working up to 20 hours a week had a higher average GPA than freshmen who didn’t work. However, the board states, “Working teaches students about responsibility and can also reinforce what they are learning in school.” However College Board also stresses moderation: “Students who work more than 15 to 20 hours per week often experience decreased school success.” With moderation, it’s possible to work part time and maintain a social life, as well as a good GPA.

Having a stable income is a big motivation for many students. This year, San Diego State’s undergraduate tuition is more than $7,000. Living costs and other expenses, such as rent and books, add even more. For students looking for a job, the holiday season is a good time to start. It may not lead to a chief executive officer position, but it could open doors to other opportunities. No matter how small it may seem, a seasonal job is a starting point.

Working retail also builds communication skills crucial to real-world situations. Everybody comes to the mall during the holiday season, from the troublesome customers to the nicest grandmothers. This forces staff members to become better communicators and allows for personal growth. Exposure to a variety of customers fosters a sense of understanding toward people from different cultures. Most importantly, retail teaches patience and cooperation. Everyone has to deal with difficult people. The skills used to sell products to irritable customers also work in other professional and personal settings.

The holiday season is a great opportunity for students to get a job, despite a lack of previous work experience or time restraints. The sun is still shining in San Diego, but the holidays are coming fast and students must take advantage of this great opportunity.