Five Reasons Why Managing Students Can Feel So Difficult

Article main image
Mar 13, 2020

Hiring students is a great practice: You get a young and motivated employee with a flexible mind, who can grow professionally, adjusting to the needs of your company. After all, we all were students, and we know how much effort is needed to get a decent job right after graduation. Students are usually eager to do even more than they have to and suggest creative ideas to get noticed and earn a promotion. But what are the drawbacks of hiring students?

1. Not every student manages their time well

In school, a students’ schedule is defined by their classes. Their college department decides what and when they should do. Usually, students need some time to adjust to the need to plan their time by themselves, to set tasks, and complete them on time. We can see this clearly after comparing the two studies: the former research shows the role of a standard academic time-management for students’ stress reduction, and the latter deals with students who learn online – and who are already managing their time by themselves.

Students adapt quite quickly, but this period can be especially annoying. New employees need reminders about almost everything. If you are eager to employ students without any previous work experience, give them some time to adapt to being an employee. You’re not their teacher, and you don’t have to check their homework – but some gentle reminders and guidance about time management will be beneficial.

2. Students can come off as difficult to work with

From very early on, many students are told that they are unique, extraordinary, or deserve special attention. This encouragement is wonderful in terms of self-esteem and a healthy childhood, but sometimes the reality hits them hard after graduation. They may feel the world is ignorant, that (almost) no one gives them individual attention and their skills aren’t so brilliant. The syndrome of falling from grace is hard to bear, so at first, they may deny reality and blame you for not taking their claims seriously. Management of multiple generations is going to get more complicated.

If you need to discipline a student or give them coaching feedback, you should do that. But even that can be done with respect and understanding of their feelings. The fact that you aren’t satisfied with their performance doesn’t mean you should vent your disappointment and anger on them – even if it feels like they are asking for it.

3. Students can get burned out

The student life sometimes looks like doing nothing during the semester and then doing everything in the last night before the exam. This energy makes students excellent workers in dire situations: They can do everything under tremendous pressure when deadlines are approaching and after the sleepless nights. But such cycles of workaholism vs. laziness can lead to burnout quite quickly.

Today, you might be proud of your employee who is working overtime and give her or him more tasks to utilize his or her superpowers to the fullest extent. But tomorrow, this employee will be exhausted, and all the tasks they started will be left unfinished. It’s essential to give students a steady workload, at least at the beginning. Remember, that no extra responsibility should be introduced until you are sure that they are doing their primary job without causing harm to the quality of their work or their health. If you are interested in getting a long-term partnership with a future promising specialist, their health is your concern, at least partly.

4. Students can have an uneven personal life

They are young, they fall in love, they break up, they have a hangover after the weekend parties, and they can get distracted if their best friend has a personal issue. It is the average life of young people, and they will have it, whether you approve of it or not.

It is entirely natural when emotions and feelings are valued more than a steady perspective by youth. We all were there, Romeos and Juliets of the modern age, facing emotional drama and overwhelming excitement, sometimes during one day. Don’t try to restrain them – you will fail. Just consider it and provide them with one or two days a month for coping with their force majeure. They will be grateful for the understanding and will return the favor with enthusiasm in the workplace. You won’t lose much effectiveness in their performance, but you will ultimately win their loyalty.

5. Students need a different motivation

Students, often due to their age, inexperience, and preference for short-term goals, aren’t as motivated by insurance, financial wellness, or other benefits. They can easily relocate and quickly change jobs if they are dissatisfied. Often, their primary motivation is creativity and pursuing new interests.

Make their job interesting for them, show them the perspective of turning their ideas into real working projects – and you will win their hearts. Just don’t give hollow promises – actually provide them with that possibility. They won’t forgive you for a broken dream.

Students can be as good as any other employee. In some aspects, they can be much better: they are curious, creative, open to the new ideas, and not necessarily bound to a particular place, so they are ideal candidates for relocation. A wise employer can help their young employees to sharpen skills that are exactly needed in their company, thus acquiring a perfect and tailor-made specialist. Managing students has its peculiarities you need to consider before (and after!) you hire them. Motivate them in the right way, understand their emotions, and remember that we all were of that age, and went through the turmoil they are going through now. They don’t need any unique attitude; neither do they deserve to be fired after the first couple of errors. Just treat them the same way you’d like your first employer to treat you.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!