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Campus Jobs: Why They're Smart and How to Get One

Having a campus job is a convenient way to make some cash during college. Here's why you need one, plus real student stories to inspire you to get to work!

Money is a serious subject for many students and parents as they begin the college search. As your family assesses their ability to pay for a quality education, the opportunity—and perhaps the need—for you to work during college should be part of the conversation. On-campus jobs are a convenient way to earn some extra cash to help you get through college. Here's why you should get a job, types of positions you can find on college campuses, and stories from real students to inspire your own job search. 

Why get a campus job?

The money you earn while working during college may be an important part of your plan to pay for your education. Whether students are responsible for part or all of their educational expenses, a part-time paycheck can reduce or eliminate the need for student loans. Other students may work to earn extra spending money needed to enjoy experiences outside of the classroom. You might also find work-study (through part- or full-time jobs on or off campus) is a part of their financial aid package. Regardless of the reason, beginning a campus-based job—as early as first semester freshman year—can build a foundation for success in the future.

You'll receive benefits in other areas of your life in addition to monetary value when working a part-time campus job. According to research in the Journal of Population Economics, students who work up to 20 hours per week on campus earn better grades during college. Students who work also develop better time management skills and make connections across campus that can help them succeed. 

Related: 4 Benefits of a College Job, Plus Tips for Finding One

Types of campus jobs

Many types of jobs exist across college campuses as well as in the surrounding community. Pam Ehlers, Director of OSU Career Services, reported more than 5,000 student employees work at Oklahoma State University each year. Students can work with faculty members in research labs, which may lead to recommendation letters for future endeavors such as medical school applications. Others may work in campus offices unrelated to their major, giving them an opportunity to build relationships with faculty and staff who will help guide them on their college journey and beyond. Some of the student jobs available across a typical college campus include:

  • Lifeguard
  • Referee
  • Student research assistant
  • Campus tour guide
  • Office assistant
  • Editor/writer for the school newspaper
  • Media relations contact for an athletics team
  • Technology support
  • Dining services
  • Residential assistant

Each job, whether it's related to a major or not, provides students with workplace skills that are invaluable when they begin searching for full-time employment after graduation. “Full-time employers are looking for candidates who know how to work,” Ehlers says. “College jobs help provide those skills and a reputable resource to list as a reference on those first job applications.”

How to find a campus job

Finding a job on campus is an easy process for students. Each school is different, but at OSU, all enrolled students have online access in order to research and apply for jobs. The Career Services Office also holds a job fair each fall where students can meet with prospective employers on campus and in the community to learn more about available positions. Many jobs have minimal or no qualifications required for employment. College provides you with a number of opportunities to get involved and build your résumé. Taking part in or leading campus organizations is one way to build relationships and gain substantial experience. Although extracurricular involvement is an excellent resource and an important aspect of college life, part-time work can help you stand out from your peers in an applicant pool after graduation. 

Related: 7 On–Campus Jobs You Really Want 

Workplace stories from students on campus

Here’s a preview of a few campus jobs you might encounter, told by the students who are living and learning from them.

Emaun Mack

Hometown: Edmond, Oklahoma
Major: Microbiology with an option in Biological Sciences and a minor in Sociology
Campus job: Campus tour guide

I show parents and incoming students around campus. I answer questions and try to introduce them to OSU. The campus tour is the most important step for a student when deciding where they want to get their education. It’s my job to show the heart of campus, the type of people we have here, and the warmth they will experience as students. Working on campus is a great way to make money while also being able to focus on school. It also helps you manage your time. I live on campus, so it's easy to get back and forth from work to home. Also, with on-campus jobs, school always comes first no matter what. They allow you to schedule around classes and are flexible with test schedules.

Andrew Bay

Hometown: Wichita, Kansas
Major: Sports Media
Campus job: Production assistant for OSU Athletics

I assist with TV productions, travel with sports teams, run a camera during sporting events, and run machines in the control room during games. This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. First, I knew I would get a lot of professional experience. Second, I needed money. Scholarships only cover school stuff, so to spend money on other things—like adventures, traveling, or eating out—I needed some extra spending money. College is about becoming independent and finding yourself. Working on campus can be a huge step in the maturation process. Also, getting a job of any kind is good, but on-campus jobs have the best understanding of the workload that you have as a student. It can be a great stepping stone to full-time employment.

Toni Gallegos

Hometown: Altus, Oklahoma
Major: Animal Science with an option in Pre-vet
Campus job: Feeding and maintaining cattle at the Willard Sparks Research Facility

I assist with medical care of the animals and help with graduate research as well as studies for other companies. I'm able to gain large-animal experience that I would have never had otherwise. It’s good experience, but I’m also trying to pay for school and my living expenses without any student loans. This job is tremendous. I would recommend that students work on campus! They pay fairly, they work with your schedule, and you have the opportunity to gain valuable experience either in your field of study or just work experience in general. When you get out of college, aside from your degree, work experience will be one of the most valuable assets that future employers will look at.

Related: Quiz: Which Campus Job Is Right for You? 

If you're looking for additional ways to fund your college education and gain experience, working on campus is an excellent opportunity. The responsibility of a part-time job will build contacts, teach applicable skills, set you up for success in the future, and provide additional income. So the real question may be: when can you start?

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