For many students, working in college isn’t a choice. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 81% of part-time and 43% of full-time students worked while enrolled in college in 2017. College is time consuming, and many students would rather not work or don’t think they need to, but a part-time job offers benefits beyond a paycheck. Here’s why—and how—to find a job as a student.
Benefits of having a part-time job
The most obvious benefit is a paycheck, but there are a lot more advantages to having a part-time job in college that can help you in college and your future career. These include:
Time management skills
Studies show that working in college hones your ability to manage your time effectively, teaching you how to prioritize and plan. Good time management often boosts grades (as long as you don’t work too much) and is an important skill that will benefit your career after graduation.
Related: Video: Time Management Tips
Money in your pocket and less debt
Your parents might not be willing (or able) to subsidize weekend events, Greek life dues, or even textbooks and travel fees. Earning cash as you go allows you to pay your way and reduces the amount of student loans you might need to apply for. Extra cash also helps you avoid putting expenses on a credit card or dipping into your savings account.
Being able to list a job (or two or three) on your résumé makes you more competitive for campus jobs and the working world when you get there. The more you can work, network, and use the career center while you’re in college, the better position you’ll be in for employment after graduation. Even a customer service job like waiting tables demonstrates your ability to interact with people and problem-solve. Employers look for “soft skills” on résumés like problem-solving as well as communication, leadership, and critical thinking.
Meeting new people
Students who get involved in college do better in many ways. A part-time job is an effective way to meet others and make connections. If you’re a good employee, your supervisor may write you a letter of recommendation for your next job. Every connection and friend you make helps you in ways you can’t anticipate.
Where to look for jobs
It takes some work to get to work. Here are the best places to look for part-time jobs in college, plus tips to help you find a great gig.
If you qualify for work-study, you might be able to find work-study jobs on and off campus relevant to your major, such as tutoring in the writing or math center, research in your major’s department, or interning at a nonprofit organization. Campus jobs are typically flexible for student schedules and may allow studying on the job when things are slow. If you qualify for work-study, options will be listed in your financial aid award letter.
Other on-campus jobs
Colleges offer many non-work-study campus jobs as well. Check with the student employment board, the career services center, your major’s department heads and professors, and the Associated Students (AS) job postings for positions related to student governance. AS jobs include things like business director for AS clubs, student elections coordinator, or DJ for the campus radio station. These jobs are a great way to get involved with your campus student governance group and learn valuable leadership and organizational skills.
Other off-campus jobs
You could also pick up part-time work off campus at restaurants, small businesses, or retail outlets. This is particularly easy if your college town’s economy relies on college student employees. The student employment board will also post gig work like babysitting, tutoring, and day labor jobs. Also consider checking into internship possibilities related to your academic interests—the career center can help you find them. Many are unpaid, but you might get lucky!
When you’re looking, try to find a job that consistently fits around your class schedule or is limited to weekend hours. If possible, don’t work more than 15–20 hours, tops. Research has shown that college students who work more than 20 hours compromise their academics. Depending on how big your school is, finding a college job takes time and patience. Even if you don’t land one right away, don’t give up. Visit the career center for help polishing your résumé, and be persistent. Something will come through!
Want a fun way to start your job search? Take our Which Campus Job Is Right For You? quiz!