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Students Ask, College Counselors Answer

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This week's question from Taylor F, Sacramento, CA asks:

I know I’ll need to work when I’m in college to help cover bills. What are some convenient and decently paying jobs for college students?

A good job should give you more than a paycheck

Julie Manhan | Founder
You won’t even need to leave campus to find a wide variety of good jobs. Just be smart about the type of job you look for. Look for a job that will give you money and experience in your field of interest because that experience could open up greater opportunities for you.  Find out if that department is hiring and make every effort to land a job there.   Don’t be afraid to start with a seemingly “lowly” position.  If you distinguish yourself by doing your best, jobs with more responsibility – and possibly better pay – are more likely to follow.

Can a campus job really launch your career?

Joan Bress | Director & Certified Educational Planner
How wonderful that you’ve landed a great campus job in a department that’s related to the work you hope to do after graduation.  You know you’re going to learn a lot.  Remember, though, that employers want to know not only what you’ve learned but also what you’ve accomplished.  Be observant and see where your skills and interests will make you a valuable part of the group. Then help your boss see what you’ve got to contribute.  And, finally, document, document, document.   Record the projects you work on and your role in the group’s successes.  And congratulations on gaining valuable experience along with your paycheck.

College cash? See your friendly career finder or financial aid officer

Farron Peatross | Educational Consultant
To supplement your dollars and gain relevant work experience for your resume, consult with one of the above advisers immediately upon acceptance.  They can help you find a job that will add some depth to your resume within your career field.  Usually, all campus departmental and Federal Work Study (FWS) jobs will be listed within these two offices.  Due to limited funding you need to apply early for the FWS jobs, and many employers prefer the FWS (part of your financial aid package) students, because the U. S. Department of Education pays 75% of the student’s wages.  The jobs range from a convenient on campus departmental job to community tutoring, non-profits, or governmental agency jobs. 

College costs and student jobs: a necessary combination

Mabel Freeman | Asst. VP for Undergraduate Admissions
The most convenient college jobs will be right on your campus.  Having an employer who understands your academic schedule and the primary reason you have come to college is important.  Look for jobs in your academic department that can benefit your eventual degree.  Want a quiet work area?  The campus library works.  Are you a good communicator? Campus tour guides. Good swimmer? Lifeguard at the campus pool. Check out student job postings on your campus website.  You will never get rich with a college job, but it can cover your books and incidentals and keep you out of credit card debt!

College student jobs

Jolyn Brand | Founder & Director
There are pros and cons to working on campus. The convenience of not needing a car, the flexible schedule, and the possibility of tuition breaks are all perks. Students should also consider the size and location of their college. Large schools in urban areas are going to have more job opportunities. Students should try to get jobs that will help grow the skills that employers are looking for: computer skills, sales or marketing, and communication skills. Jobs such as campus tour guide, online writer, tutor, or computer support technician all look great on resumes.

Don't be finicky: work hard and make as much as possible

Mark Montgomery | Founder
Too many students turn up their noses at jobs that seem too menial, despite the fact that they can pay a lot.  Slinging packages on the night shift for UPS can make you tons of money, plus benefits, and even land you some scholarships. Consider working part time for a moving company, or painting houses, or washing windows.  Earn as much cash as possible, and don't fret over the prestige factor.  A job like this will give you valuable insights, earn you surprising amounts of respect, and you'll graduate with much less debt.  And reject the frilly internships that force you to pay tuition to colleges for work experience.  Follow the money.

Don't just get a job, get a head start

Enid Arbelo | Editor in Chief
It’s easy to land a job waiting tables or working at a coffee shop, but then you’re just trading time for money. Instead, get a head start on your career and follow your passion. Consider getting a job in a department at college that is in line with your future plans. Want to be a reporter? Join the campus broadcast station or write for their newspaper or website. Thinking about biomedical engineering? I’m sure faculty could use an extra set of hands in the lab. Seek out these on campus opportunities to save on gas, get some first-hand experience in your career choice and likely secure some great recommendations while you’re at it.

Dorm Aid provides countless entrepreneurial opportunities

Kris Hintz | Founder
DormAid, gives entrepreneurial college students the opportunity to start and run their own business on campus. DormAid, founded by Michael Kopko at Harvard in 2004, provides laundry pickup/delivery, room cleaning, bedding services, and water delivery. It offers direct on-campus services at 25 universities. It seeks to launch on 50 additional campuses. Launching the business on one's own campus would be convenient way to make money, and would give a college student entrepreneurial, managerial and marketing experience that would be attractive to future employers.

Find one related to your career or paid per project

Larry Dannenberg | Founder
Finding a job related your desired career, like working in a research or engineering lab, will help you get a head start out of college by making you more desirable to employers. You should also look for jobs which will have you work next to people with whom you can network—something a job related to your career will probably offer. You might also try for a job which pays by the project, like cleaning cafeteria floors or running your hockey rink’s Zamboni machine--you can try to finish early and essentially get paid to study!

Follow your passions to great on-campus jobs

Rebecca Joseph | Executive Director & Founder
Elsie loves sociology and just got a work-study job helping her SOC 101 professor on a research project. Mike loves helping kids get ready for college and got a campus job working in local high schools and giving tours for the admissions office. Working on campus is ideal as you get to follow passions and build up your resume. You can work your schedule around your class hours. You can work in a coffee shop or a bookstore as well and still get great benefits. Most work study jobs are connected to financial aid but you can exceed the minimum hour requirements.

Gaining more than just money by working

Jane Hoffman | Founder
Working in a department at college or with a company off campus whose function relates to a career you have some interest in can be a great strategy to earn money, gain experience, help determine your level of interest in that career path and develop references. Jobs that require technical skills, like computer work, may pay at a higher wage. Others, like babysitting for the children of a professor, can strengthen your sense of connection. Many find that the structure of a job commitment also helps them organize their time and with their productivity both at work and in school.

Job on campus, build your resume

Jennifer DesMaisons | Director of College Counseling
Whether you are looking for a work-study job or just looking for a part-time position to supplement your college expenses, investigate on-campus options first. From dish washing to secretarial work, admissions tour guide to landscaping, there are student positions in most college offices including athletics, student affairs, maintenance and library. Find the office you are most interested in, send a cover letter and resume and follow up with a request to talk with that office in person before school starts. Campus jobs will allow you to both develop your resume and typically earn more per hour than most off-campus jobs.

Like to earn grad school recommendations in addition to wages?

Linda Turner | President
Normally, jobs will be available on campus in the fall in just about every academic department and division (e.g., Student Life, Admissions, Housing).  They range from the fast-paced cashier in the cafeteria to working in the library, where you are afforded time to study.  Some of the most beneficial opportunities can be found in the department of your career interest.   Not only will you be paid, you will learn everything about the department from the inside and will get to know the individual faculty members and deans.  Look for internships and graduate school recommendations to begin taking shape from your first day on the job.

Share your academic strengths and empower kids

John Carpenter | Founder
Lots of great options exist for part-time jobs on campus, but if you're really good in math, science, a language, or writing, advertise your services as a tutor to high school kids.  You set your own schedule and can make good money.  Your responsibility is to meet in a neutral and public space, inspire the student to become confident in his or her own skills, and then demonstrate how the kid can make a marked increase in the academic progress. Empowering HS kids is rewarding--both personally and financially.  

The benefits of a campus job are numerous

Maura Kastberg | Vice President of Client Services
Working on campus can help students solidify their career choices and it gains them valuable experience in their chosen field. Another benefit of on campus employment is that there is no travel time and work can be done between, immediately before or after classes. When you work on campus your employer understands that school work must come first. They will likely be more flexible in the demands they put on you than an off campus employer would be. Once you graduate businesses are looking for employees that show initiative and have some experience. Getting a campus job in the department of your major gives you both.

This is a no-brainer! Work in the admission office!

Marcia Hunt | Director of College Counseling
Admission people are fun, extroverted, interesting and on the cutting edge for information about this complex area of higher education. The job may entail stuffing envelopes and filing documents but it also might include reacting to social media, traveling back to your high school, interviewing prospective students, serving on panels or even evaluating applications. You meet new people all the time, you learn to walk backwards while giving tours AND you have a leg up on working as an admission officer once you graduate, a job I think is one of the most fun and interesting around these days!"

Those college jobs and making money to go with them

Jeannie Borin | Founder & President
On campus jobs are preferred in that students can often work flexible hours in close proximity to where they live and attend class. A few suggestions would include: university tour guide, working at the bookstore, in the alumni office, or career center. Students also gain employment doing IT support and assisting those in navigating social media. Working in a restaurant, as a bank teller and house sitting are other possibilities. Some students start their own businesses whether it is delivery of cleaned laundry or food. It is great if students can connect their job with their career interest and do something they like.

Valuable, yet lost, art of face to face communication

Pamela Ellis | Founder
As you are working in college, whether on or off-campus, use the experience as a time to develop your communication skills (i.e. “soft” skills). We communicate a lot more these days through virtual communities, but the value of a face-to-face interaction is still current and relevant. If you are working at the on-campus library as a shelver, for instance, there will be opportunities for you to interact with supervisors, coworkers, and patrons. Leverage your work experience with building those soft skills and it will carry you through your future career.

When choosing a campus job, have clear goals in mind

James Maroney | Director
Flexibility is why I recommend a campus-based job. If you are working for the school, your employer will be far more understanding if you need to miss some work for an important exam than a private employer will be. Second is flexibility to do your own work while on the job. Often, if you are working late shifts in the library, you can bring your own work along. Cafeteria jobs tend to pay better, but they often do not have as much flexibility. Finally, working in a department that is related to your academic and career interests gives you the bonus of gaining contacts and a potential strong letter of recommendation.

When you are passionate and motivated, no 'job' is work!

Rachel Winston | President
Passionate pursuits reap intrinsic rewards; sometimes simultaneously, extrinsic rewards are also obtained. Reframing the question, what would you be willing to do, learn, or spend time doing if you were not compensated at all? Now, that is the best job. Some suggestions include developing websites for faculty, tutoring, giving campus tours, learning medical techniques at the hospital/health center, organizing books in the law library, or collecting neuroscience or engineering lab data. These are often offered as work study jobs, though students are sometimes employed through a grant. It has been said, “Do what you love and the money will come.”

Work on campus or check classifieds

Barb Fisher | Recruiter, Marketing Director & Foundation Liason
Working on campus is an option if you qualify for work-study through financial aid.  Hours can be worked between classes to fit your schedule.  Other jobs on campus may be available depending upon the school you attend and can be arranged around your class schedule as well.  Working in the community is always an option.  More and more people are posting jobs online, but local newspapers’ “help wanted” sections should also be checked.

Work study students have many options right on campus

Craig Meister | President
Students with need-based financial aid packages often qualify for work-study positions on campus. Pay is usually quite low; therefore, if you qualify for work-study, aim for a position that is of interest to you and one that will augment your professional resume when it comes time to apply for summer internship and a post-college job.  Sample work-study jobs include everything from working in the cafeteria (ideal for foodies and those hoping to land a job in the food industry) to working in the study abroad office (ideal for students interested in an international career).

Working a job on campus is more than just making some extra money

Penny Deck | College Counselor
Finding a job on campus is more than just a great way to help pay the bills; it's a great way to start building a resume, find a mentor and begin to establish networks, etc. Try to find a job that is related to your interests and/or major. Working in a technology lab is a great job for someone studying computer science. Getting a job as a writing coach in the career center is a great job for a future writer or English major. You are also much more likely to enjoy what you are doing if you find it meaningful and not just a way to pay the bills!

Your job in college is to prepare for a job

Suzanne Shaffer | Founder
In today’s competitive job market, you must prepare for your future after graduation. The good news is that campus career centers are concerned about this goal as well. The even better news is that there are paid internships available to prepare you for your future career. If you need a job to help pay for bills, ask the career center to help you locate paid internships related to your major. By using this strategy, you will kill two birds with one stone: snag a decent paying job and use your job experience to build your resume and your network.


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