On-Campus Jobs Are Beneficial to Students: Why You Should Get One

A student works in her campus' medical center

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Are you looking to earn extra spending money? Do you want a flexible job that doesn’t interfere with your class schedule? Drop the classifieds and exit out of Craigslist. You don’t have to look any further than a list of campus jobs.

If your financial aid package guarantees your participation in the federal work-study program, this is your chance to step up, enhance your résumé, and get experience that may be directly related to your field of study. If you aren’t eligible for work study on the basis of your financial situation, you may still find an on-campus job. Many colleges offer on-campus employment opportunities to students like you after all of the work-study positions have been filled. Even though campus jobs are only part-time positions, studies show that students who work between 10 and 15 hours each week are more likely to complete their degrees than the rest of their peers.

Trying to work full-time while you’re also a full-time student causes problems: deteriorating academics, not fulfilling work responsibilities in a timely manner, and general anxiety and stress. Campus jobs are perfect for students because schools limit the number of hours that students can work. Listed below are some ways that a campus job can benefit student development.

Jobs enhance your résumé.

Future employers will love to see that you’ve already held a job, even if it was part-time or unrelated to your field. Having a résumé that shows you can balance work and school—while excelling at both—indicates responsibility and time management skills.

Obviously, having a job related to your field of study (working as a teaching assistant for introductory biology courses when you’re pre-med, for example) is going to look even better. It’s not always possible on a college campus, though, where everyone competes for similar work experience. The library, bookstore, and dining halls are all staffed by students; while these jobs may not sound glamorous, sticking with something for a year (or four) can prove worth your time. Even dining halls provide their employees with opportunities to move into leadership positions. These commitments and responsibilities are sure to look impressive during future interviews.

You’ll meet new people.

A group of students works together with help from a librarian.

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When you work on campus, your chances of meeting new people your own age skyrocket. If you work in the library, you could meet every student at least once (at least, the ones who are doing their homework). If you work as a lab assistant, you may meet students who are interested in the same things as you. Not only will you get to meet the students around you, but you may also become friends with your coworkers and supervisors.

Meeting new people is a surefire way to make a couple of friends, but it is also a way to grow your professional network. Create a LinkedIn profile and connect with your coworkers and supervisors. Not only will prospective employers be able to seek you out in the future, but you may find that the people you surround yourself with at work have prospective job ideas to offer, too.

You’ll learn new skills.

At the very least, your time management and people skills are likely to improve. But the sky's the limit when it comes to learning new things. If you work at the campus bookstore, you’ll likely learn how to use a cash register, process returns, and complete orders. A job at the IT help desk may develop your skills in computer networks, diagnosing wifi problems, and coding. All of these things can be put on a résumé or mentioned in a future job interview.

Most people don’t go to college to learn how to use a cash register or to swipe meal cards in a dining hall. There are always ways to make your job sound much more impressive than you may find it, though. Consider “money management” instead of “experience with a cash register” or “service provider” instead of “meal card swiper.” Even if your campus job isn’t particularly fulfilling, turn it around so that it can work for you. If you still don’t see the value in what you’re doing, you can always apply for a different position next year.

Your bank account will thank you.

Federal work-study jobs are required to pay at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 hourly. Many states, however, have their own minimum wage laws. As a result, depending on where you are going to college, you may end up making significantly more money. California and Massachusetts, for example, set minimum wage at $10.00 per hour.

You may not be working many hours each week, but the money you earn can be applied to anything. If you want to help pay for college, by all means, apply your paycheck to your tuition bill. You can also keep the money for yourself and use it for extracurricular activities or flying home for winter break. Having an income of your own also means that you can become a pro at budgeting.

Campus jobs offer flexibility.

When you work on campus, your supervisor knows that you will be scheduling your hours around your class schedule. The main reason you’re on campus at all is to learn, and it should take precedence over work hours. An off-campus job, on the other hand, might insist that you work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. twice a week, a schedule that is unlikely to work with your classes.

Student working on-campus in the library; when answering the question "Are campus jobs good" he would say yes.

Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock.com

Several one- or two-hour shifts spread throughout the week will work just fine for your job at the library, in a lab, or at the campus coffee shop. Even as a resident assistant, which requires more of your time, you are given flexibility to determine when you will hold office hours and activities for residents. Taking the fewer hours offered by an on-campus position will help guarantee your academic success.

The point is this:

Off-campus jobs can be appealing because they may offer more hours or a “better” job, but taking advantage of on-campus options is a better bet for your success. Working 10 to 15 hours each week is more than enough if you are also trying to be a full-time student, participate in extracurricular activities, and enjoy social events. Colleges want to help you succeed, and an on-campus job offers a multitude of ways to do just that.

About Megan Clendenon

Megan C. is obsessed with Cincinnati-style chili, Louisville basketball, and Scandinavian crime fiction. She has lived in six different states and held 12 different jobs since beginning her undergraduate degree at Carleton College in 2008. The wanderlust abated somewhat in recent years, as Megan settled in Texas from 2013 to 2016 to finish a master’s degree in geosciences, write a thesis on the future horrors that stem from climate change, and get married. During her free time, you will find Megan sitting on the couch, cheering for her Louisville Cardinals, planning future adventures abroad, and snuggling with her dog, Tiger. She currently lives outside of Washington D.C.

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