As a child, Caitlin Burkus picked up rock after rock in the summer heat. Today, she reflects on her experience and how it has impacted her work ethic in college.

Nothing makes a humid, Indiana summer worse than yard work.

My father, being ex-Navy and a little on the stricter side, decided to enlist my younger brother and me into the yard work squadron when we were children. The job involved picking up small rocks that surrounded the entirety of the house so that my father could lay down mulch.


We would take the rocks we gathered and toss them into a wheelbarrow. Because I am the oldest sibling, I then had to wheel the rocks up a small hill and dump them in the nearby gravel pit.

The rocks seemed to multiply every time I came back down the hill to collect more.

Escaping the work was futile. Any previous escape attempts resulted in more yard work. At that age, I figured it should have been illegal to do so much hard work. I couldn’t understand why my father didn’t just hire someone.

It wasn’t until I came to college that it made sense. He could have hired someone to pick up all of those rocks and wheel them away. Instead, he chose to teach me a valuable lesson about working.

Establishing a good work ethic early on in life is important. Unfortunately, many college students don’t understand exactly how important it is to use college experiences to grow and gain a good work ethic.

More than 44 percent of employers feel that work ethic has declined in recent college graduates, according to the 2013 National Professionalism Survey Workplace Report.

One reason for the decline is that almost 70 percent of employers said recent college graduates did not understand what hard work was, according to the Workplace Report.

College quickly defines the work ethic of each individual. If students go above and beyond in classes, then they will be rewarded with good grades.

Students who only work toward passing grades and do not go above and beyond in classes will suffer in the future. By working the bare minimum in school, the transition to working harder in the work place will be a struggle, and employers will notice.

Another reason for the lack of a good work ethic is poor attendance. Almost 58 percent of employers said that being absent or late from work often would result in being fired, according to the Workplace Report.

Class attendance policies are set in place so that students know how important it is to attend class. Many attendance policies include drops in grades or other penalties.

In school, a slightly lowered grade may not mean much. But in the workplace, missing work could cost a person their job. If we can’t bother to wake up in the morning to go to class, how do we expect to get up for a job?

Hygiene and attire are also important aspects of a person that employers look at carefully. Ninety percent of employers said that poor hygiene has a negative impact on being hired, and almost 75 percent said inappropriate attire has a negative impact, according to the Workplace Report.

Outside of appearance, working with others is important for work ethic. Eighty percent of employers are looking for employees that have the ability to work well in a team, according to Job Outlook 2012.

Everyone seems to give the same familiar groans when professors announce group projects. For some reason, we aren’t fans of working with other people. By requiring students to do group projects for classes, professors are encouraging a working characteristic that they know we will need in the future.

No one is entitled to a job. A person has to work hard to get that position, and a lack of hard work means it could be taken away and given to someone who would appreciate it more.

Picking up those rocks when I was younger reminds me of how easy I had it as a kid, and that work has only gotten harder as time goes by. Building a good work ethic takes time, and college is the place to determine what kind of work ethic you want to take with you to your chosen profession.