It’s a catch-22 for many young people: to get the job, you need experience, but to get experience, you need the job. Many schools are aware of this problem and encourage students to get as much practical experience as possible during their academic careers. Their quests to gain experience sometimes benefit the general public by providing near-professional services at reduced costs.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find some great deals on haircuts, creative services, entertainment, repairs, dental work and more. For example, if you have a culinary school in your area, you may have regular opportunities to enjoy gourmet meals for a much lower price than what you would pay at a five-star restaurant, as these schools often invite the public to dinners cooked by students in order to simulate a restaurant environment for the future chefs.
Vocational-technical schools and post-secondary trade schools may offer haircuts, auto repairs, and similar work at reduced rates to those who are willing to offer their cars or scalps for the sake of education. Art and design schools have many eager and creative students who could provide inexpensive brochures, web design, fine art, and public relations copy for your small business or personal use.
Some people might be reluctant to hire someone who is just learning his or her trade, and there is some risk involved. The services you receive might not be perfect, and you may need to spend additional money to bring a substandard repair or haircut up to par. However, you should not automatically assume that a student will provide poor service. You are likely to find some students who are as talented as those who are paid much more for their work; you might also find professionals whose work is substandard. Remember also that if you are hiring students through school-sponsored means, those students are supervised by professional faculty who can catch their mistakes before any true harm is done.
Schools can also provide an inexpensive night out for those who want to improve their minds or simply be entertained. If you want to learn something, take a community education class. To stimulate your thinking, attend a lecture by a guest speaker. You may find some well-known people speaking even at small universities. During my days as a student, I heard politicians, writers, an actor, a scientist, and even the co-creator of VeggieTales speak. Most of these lectures were open to the public but advertised only to students, and the lecture halls were never filled to capacity.
For entertainment, check into concerts, musicals, plays, and sporting events at both secondary and post-secondary schools in your area. Some of these performances are as well done as professional productions; some sporting events are more exciting than their professional counterparts, partly because the athletes are amateurs.
Call the local schools in your area, both secondary and post-secondary, to ask what services and events they offer for the community. If they send out announcements of upcoming events, ask to be added to the mailing list. If you want a particular service and the schools in your area don’t offer them formally, consider asking whether they have a particularly talented student who might be willing and able to work for you as an independent contractor. In certain fields that require licenses, students may not be qualified to work for you on a contract basis before they graduate, but in others, this type of independent work is encouraged as a résumé builder. Be sure to find out what is appropriate for each type of service you need.
Taking advantage of local schools’ offerings can save you money and help students in need of experience, and it can also encourage better relationships between schools and the communities in which they are located. Plus, you may have the opportunity to discover a talented stylist before his schedule is booked or a soon-to-be-famous performer before tickets to her performances skyrocket. Then you can say, “I knew her when she was still unknown.”
Image courtesy of Tostie14