Whether to get a jump on paying those student loans, financing books and supplies, or just having some extra spending cash on hand, getting a part-time job during college is often a necessity for many students.
One of the biggest advantages of working on campus is that managers are likely to be accommodating to your class schedule. Work will probably be within walking distance too, sparing you the expense of a commute. (On-campus employment is pretty much a must if you don’t have a car!)
However, there are many students all in the same boat as you are, and on-campus jobs are often tough to come by. There are some tried-and-true ideas, however, that will give you a competitive advantage when it comes to getting that on-campus position:
* Apply for financial aid long before the deadline. Work study jobs-government-funded jobs created for qualifying students-often have financial need stipulations that must be met. The sooner you submit FAFSA and all other financial aid documents, the sooner you’ll know if you qualify and can begin job searching. A position for next semester may be lined up before you even leave campus the prior semester.
* Start early. If feasible, arrive on campus a few days to a week or more before classes begin. Come orientation week, many other students are going to want a job. See if you can volunteer in the housing office, computer lab, or other area of interest. Initiative plus drive will be noticed by hiring managers.
* Get an application in. Visit human resources’ website. Have an idea of what student positions you are interested and then apply. It may be an online app, or you may need to do the pen-and-ink thing in person. Make sure you have employment history, references, and other information ready.
* Network with your professors. Chances are you’ll be learning a lot in the next few years about professional networking and “rubbing elbows for employment”. Get to know your professors and see what leads they might provide. You never know what professor or what department is looking for a research assistant or secretary. Professors that you have worked hard for and have done well with are great character references as well.
* Look in your intended major. This is goes hand in hand with the last point. You’re an accounting major? See if the accounting office has student positions available. Take that formula and apply it to your course of study. Finding a job that provides real-world experience can be as valuable, or even more so, than an internship on your resume.
* Be humble. Meaning, don’t shrug off “grunt work” such as the dish pit in the dining hall. It may not be glamorous, but dining services are often contracted out. This contractor may not be bound by work study and other requirements, but usually is flexible with schedules and such. Learn what services are run by third-party contractors at your campus.
* Leverage career services. By no means is the career center just for landing the “big position” once your degree is in hand. They can help direct you to on-campus opportunities as well as provide valuable interview practice and other useful information.
* Speaking of interviews, be prepared. Make sure you have appropriate attire, and that you are ready to interview for any jobs of interest. You’ll be doing this a lot after college, but now is an excellent time to get some practice.
These tips are the culmination of successful experiences in getting on-campus employment. Put these into play before even leaving for campus, and not only will you have a jump on competing job seekers, but you’ll be gaining valuable post-graduation job-search skills. As is often over-quoted, but never less meaningful, best of luck in your career endeavors!