Work experience looks great on a college or scholarship application because it demonstrates time management and responsibility if a student is able to work, maintain their grades and stay involved in other activities.

Should all students show work experience?

Not all students will have work experience during high school. This will depend on your specific situation. If you’re heavily involved in sports, extracurricular activities and community service, you won’t necessarily need to have much, if anything, for this section. On the flip side, some students may have to work throughout high school, not leaving them much time to get involved in other activities.

The work experience section of an application allows reviewers to gain a better understanding of how you spent your time in high school.

If working a job interferes with your ability to participate in extracurriculars, it is even more important to keep a detailed log of your work experience and highlight this in the writing portion of your application. Again, the purpose of your application is to paint a picture of who you are, how you spent your time and what makes you unique.

What type of work can be included?

Now, when filling out this section, keep in mind that only legitimate jobs should be included. Do not list money you made for chores or babysitting your siblings.

However, you can include more than your typical paid jobs. If you are planning on attending a vocational school, or pursuing a career that encourages job shadowing, track those hours in this section, even if they are unpaid. Internships are another type of experience that should be tracked in this section even if the position is unpaid.

TIP: Keep pay stubs or other documentation in your ScholarPrep Organizer in order to track relevant information, including hours, pay, and dates of employment.

One question we hear a lot is: What type of job will look impressive?

You don’t have to have a prestigious job to include it on your application, bagging groceries and even that fun summer job at the pool can demonstrate work ethic and dedication. Don’t worry about trying to become what you think might look impressive on an application. Embrace your strengths, weaknesses and the reality of your situation and utilize every component of the application to showcase you’re authentic self.

BONUS TIP: Ask your employer for a letter of recommendation. Keep copies of these letters for future use, or a boost of confidence 🙂


What are your thoughts? Do you thinking having a job in high school is important? What type of work experience are you listing on your applications? Let us know in the comments below!