Some people luck out and don’t have to work through college, thanks, mom, and dad. But in today’s higher education landscape, working through college may be the only way to keep you from suffocating under a mountain of debt after graduation. But where to get a good job? Who will hire a college student with no real-world experience? You could make sandwiches or paint houses, but there are jobs right on campus that you don’t need to commute far too, and they come with loads more benefits.
Campus jobs are positions within the university itself. Your employer is the academic institution that you are attending. They can be anything from helping out in a lab to cleaning toilets and everything in between. You can even get a job making sandwiches. So why work on campus if the jobs are nothing special? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why a campus job can be much more beneficial than a normal part-time gig, and how you can land one.
The Advantages of Campus Jobs
On-campus employment has many benefits, mostly because the school can affect your entire academic life. Businesses usually aren’t very forgiving of your particular situation, but campus jobs know that their employees are students and their troubles. Because of this knowledge, they can provide benefits that are great for a student that another employer might not offer. Most businesses’ employees are not exclusively college students.
Your off-campus job likely doesn’t even know when your finals are, much less care about your predicament. Campus jobs know exactly when their quarters end and are much more likely to make dispensations based on school schedules. After all, they don’t want you to drop out because that’s one less person paying tuition. They’ll still fire you for blowing off work, but they are more likely to accept academic reasons for needing time off.
Proximity to School
You can likely get a campus job on foot or short bike ride. No needing a car or wasting time on the bus. You don’t need car payments and parking fees keeping you down on top of your tuition, so getting a job you can walk to will help you save a bundle. Furthermore, you’ll have more time for school and less stress if you aren’t sitting in traffic all day on the way to work and back.
Truth be told, campus jobs do not pay much. Some don’t even pay at all. But, what they lack in compensation, they make up for in benefits. Many campus jobs will, despite paying you a minimal amount, will match part or even all of these wages and put the amount towards your tuition. Other jobs will let you stay in the dorms for free, get free school supplies or get free meals. You may not be happy with less pocket money, but you will breathe sighs of relief when you get your tuition or housing bill.
On the Job Training
It is possible to get a campus job in your chosen field. Even if that is a library attendant in the history department or courier for the legal department, you can get valuable experience in your future career. You’ll get a leg up on the competition both in academia and in the workforce after you graduate.
Even if you don’t get a job in your chosen field, you’ll get some kind of work skills that you can use after you graduate while you look for a job or consider grad school. Speaking of grad school, some programs require internships, and you can kill two birds with one stone and get paid while doing it by getting a job in your department.
Who you know can be just as much if not more important than what you know in the workforce. Getting a connection that can put in a good word for you or write you a glowing recommendation letter can be worth their weight in gold (the letter anyway, not the person). Jumping into campus work will help you meet employed adults, possibly in your desired field, that will be valuable allies in your quest for a career. Showing them that you are a dedicated and serious worker will secure their support more than just showing up to their classes.
Securing a Campus Job
Getting a job on campus can be more difficult than getting an off-campus one. The jobs are often very desirable, and there is a lot of competition. It’s worth it, but not easy. Let’s take a look at some ways you can find a campus job, then make sure you get it.
Do Your Homework
Like with your schoolwork, finding the right job will require research. Just make sure you are doing it in the right place. These jobs are not often listed on “regular” job sites and listings. You’ll have to do some digging.
A great place to start is either the human resources department of the college or university, or (if the school has one) the student employment office. This office is dedicated to helping students find jobs on campus and is the perfect place to find out more.
Alternatively, you can go directly to the department you are interested in and ask around. The worst thing they can do is say no, so work up your courage and “pound the pavement.” You’ll never know unless you ask, and ask you should in as many places as possible.
Keep Your Eyes Open and Ask Around
Jobs are everywhere, and some might not even exist until you suggest that they do. Look around campus on bulletin boards or visit the department websites. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask professors or other school employees. They might know of a job, know someone who knows or maybe they might even make a job in their department for you. You can also join student organizations to meet more people to increase your networking and get exposed to more employment opportunities.
Apply A Lot
Just because you want to get into the sciences, that doesn’t mean you should only look in the science departments. Prepare for the very real possibility that you will not get the job you want; it’s a good experience for the real world. Always have a backup plan and apply for as many jobs as you can. The best problem to have in this situation is having too many job offers and having to refuse some.
Having to track down all of these applications in different places is tough and time-consuming, but it’s likely better than commuting off campus for less money for four years or more. “Cast a wide net,” as they say, and settle for less than perfect if it means getting something instead of nothing.
When you do apply, make sure it is as soon as possible. These campus jobs are usually like classes, once the term is up you stop working there. This means that the jobs will open up like classes and if you want something specific, you better get your application in early to even be considered.
Employers won’t wait around for you to apply, but at least you can find out when exactly they will be accepting applications. Just like when you wake up early and watch the classes open up for registration, do the same for your job.
Don’t worry about the jobs being by semester or quarterly, either. If you get the job and do it well, you’ll likely get hired next term again. It’s much easier to keep a student who hasn’t graduated yet than go out and find a new one.
This should go without saying, but college and university students usually have not been employed before reaching campus. To land the job after getting an interview, you have to convince your prospective employer that you want it and will do a good job. Just because the job isn’t at a “normal” business, it doesn’t mean they will hire any student who walks in. Here are a few things you can do to appear more professional:
- Don’t show up for the interview in street clothes. No holes in clothes or hats on heads. Make sure there are buttons on your shirt, and your thighs and toes are covered. You want to look like a professional, even if the job is just making coffee.
- Give a firm handshake, and keep eye contact. Confidence, or the appearance of it, is key.
- Be prepared to answer questions. If the interviewer stumps you with simple questions about what you want to do and why they will think you don’t really want the job or care. And bring a hard copy of your resume, in case you or the interviewer wants to look at it or take notes.
- Body language can help a lot to put the interviewer at ease and give them a better first impression of you. Smile and relax, don’t cross your arms or frown. Lean into the conversation, not back into your chair.