College students may want—or need—to do more than study and socialize. Working at an on-campus job can be a great option for keeping busy, offering some rewarding opportunities, as well as making some extra money.
On-campus jobs can be through the Federal Work-Study program or a regular part-time position. Before starting a search, students may want to learn how the two differ. The Covid-19 pandemic may have affected some opportunities for students, so some extra research may be necessary when considering options for employment.
Work-Study vs. Part-Time Jobs
The Federal Work-Study program offers part-time jobs for undergraduate as well as graduate students who have financial need so they can earn money to pay for their education. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the first step in applying for this aid. Not all colleges and universities participate in the Federal Work-Study program, so it’s a good idea for students to check with the financial aid office at their school to see if it’s an option.
Work-study jobs are open to both part- and full-time students, and the program encourages those who are awarded this aid to find work related to their major. For example, a science major may be able to get a work-study job as a lab assistant in the chemistry department. These jobs may be either on- or off-campus, the former usually in a campus department and the latter typically at a non-profit organization or a public agency. Students will earn at least the federal minimum wage, and their work-study award will be based on when they apply, their level of financial need, and their school’s funding level.
The Benefits of Having an On-campus Job
A student can look for a regular part-time job on campus on their own. The pay will vary, and the job might not have anything to do with the student’s major, but there are still benefits to working on campus . Students can save money to pay for their education or any other expenses like food, transportation, and entertainment, plus they’re getting valuable work experience, no matter the field.
Both work-study jobs or regular part-time jobs that relate to a student’s major can boost their skills, which they can list on their resume to show experience for their post-college job search.
Jobs also offer socializing and networking opportunities. Students can make new friends and connections they might be able to turn to when looking for internships during college and jobs after they graduate.
The Top On-campus Jobs
1. Tour Guide
Being a campus tour guide through the admissions office requires that students become familiar with facts about their school as well as have great interpersonal skills. They will take prospective students and their families on tours of campus while giving details about different majors, activities, events, and the many other things that their schools have to offer.
2. Resident Assistant
A resident assistant, or RA, lives in a dorm on campus and supervises a certain group of students. Their responsibility is to make sure students are following the dorm rules and to offer support if students need anything. Typically, an RA will get free or discounted housing.
Students who excel in a particular subject may want to consider becoming a tutor. This on-campus job allows students to teach others what they are good at and help their peers have a better understanding of the subject.
4. Campus Newspaper Editor
Students who love to write, edit, and manage a team of reporters will enjoy working as a campus newspaper editor. This is typically not a job that students can get right away. They may have to work their way up after holding other positions on the staff in their freshman, sophomore, and/or junior years.
Some schools have a café on campus where students can go to get caffeinated and study well into the night for their exams. Being a barista will teach student workers people skills and how to make the perfect Americano.
6. Library Assistant
Another one of the on-campus jobs that students can apply for is library assistant. They will re-shelve books as well as help other students find and check out the books they need.
7. Admissions Assistant
Being a tour guide isn’t the only job students can take on in the admissions office. They can also assist with data entry, chatting with prospective students and families on the phone and through email, and helping out with any other administrative work around the office. Learning administrative work is very helpful because it’s a necessary skill once students graduate and start looking for jobs.
8. Mailroom Attendant
As a mailroom attendant, students will sort incoming mail and help other students retrieve their packages.
9. Dining Hall Server
Students might find on-campus jobs at the dining halls on their campuses. They can serve food and maybe even get to take home free grub at the end of the day.
10. Bookstore Associate
Campus bookstores tend to be busy places, especially just before each semester when students buy their textbooks, and other school supplies. The ends of semesters are also typically busy times for book returns and memorabilia purchases. As a bookstore associate, workers will need to stock shelves with books and merchandise and learn how to use a cash register.
Schools with pools need lifeguards to keep students safe. Students with summer lifeguard experience in their hometown may be able to sign up for this on-campus job when they go back to school in the fall.
12. Research Assistant
Department faculty may need assistants to help them with research. Duties of a research assistant may vary, but can include data collection, putting together grant materials, managing email, or maintaining a department website.
13. Fitness Center Attendant
If there is a gym on campus, students can apply to work there. They may scan student IDs at the check-in desk, wipe down equipment, sell healthy food and smoothies at the gym café, and organize the equipment when the gym closes for the day.
14. Administrative Assistant
Different offices on campus could be looking for administrative assistants. Tasks include everything from sorting mail to doing data entry and answering telephone calls and emails.
15. IT Assistant
Students who enjoy working with computers may find on-campus jobs in the IT department. They can help other students with computer issues like not being able to connect to the school Wi-Fi or using the campus printers.
16. Museum or Gallery Assistant
If a school has an art museum or gallery, they may employ students as assistants. Students majoring in art may enjoy this on-campus job, where they give tours, work in the gift shop, and check in visitors.
17. Marketing Assistant
College marketing departments create materials to promote the school. Students who are interested in marketing or communication may want to apply for one of these on-campus jobs and learn valuable skills like email marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. They may write blog posts for the school website and create flyers for prospective students and families.
18. Lab Assistant
Students who are majoring in the sciences may be able to find on-campus jobs in their schools’ laboratories. They might help other students with lab experiments, set up and organize labs, and concoct chemical
19. Radio DJ
If a school has a radio station, students might have the opportunity to become radio DJs, playing music that they love and hosting different programs. Other duties may include ordering new equipment, securing rights to the music they play, and setting up and breaking down the station as necessary.
20. Endowment Office Assistant
Some schools might have endowments, through which they receive money from private donors. Endowment assistants may reach out to current and prospective donors for contributions, enter their data into the system, or help with other administrative tasks around the office.
Finding and Maintaining an On-campus Job
Students can find these jobs, as well as other jobs, on their college’s job board. Work-study jobs may be arranged through a school’s financial aid office, with some schools assigning students to jobs and others requiring students to go through the campus job board. It’s best to look and apply for an on-campus job the summer before the school year begins, because these jobs may fill up fast.
If a student does end up landing an on-campus job, they should strive to act professional while they are at work and treat it the same as they would a job in the “real world.” They can gain the skills they will need once they graduate, so they should take the opportunity to learn as much as possible, dress for the job, show up on time, and ask their supervisors how they can be helpful.
They shouldn’t do their schoolwork on the job or call in sick just because they partied too hard the night before, which could reflect poorly on them. They may want to use their supervisor as a connection for an internship or as a reference for one of those “real world” jobs.
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Putting That Money to Work
Work-study students are paid directly by their school unless they request to have their earnings be deposited into a bank account or applied to their school account where it will cover things like tuition, fees, or room and board.
Whether holding a work-study or regular part-time job, students might want to consider taking the money they earn and learning to budget it properly, putting most of it towards necessities and limiting spending for the purely fun stuff. Earning money from a part-time job is a great opportunity to learn budgeting and saving skills, which are important life skills.
Even with money from part-time jobs, students might need a little extra to cover college costs. Private student loans might be an option for students who have exhausted all of their federal grant and loan options.
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