July 19, 2019 By Harlan Cohen

The Benefits of Working on Campus

Want to make money, build new relationships, and create life-changing experiences in college? Work on campus. Getting a job should be required to graduate. College jobs help you discover what you love, and more importantly, what you don’t love. They give you real world experience you can’t get inside the classroom. Oh, and you can make money too. Lots of it. I asked students (past and present) to share their best college jobs.

Here are some of the highlights to help you pinpoint the best job for you.

Work-Study Jobs

Federal work-study provides part-time jobs for students with financial need. These jobs can be more flexible and have student friendly hours. If you’re eligible (see your financial aid award letter), you’ll need to apply for these jobs. Work-study jobs can have you working in academic offices related to your major, hosting campus tours, working the info desk, serving in the cafeteria, life guarding in the rec center, or doing anything on campus. There can also be off-campus jobs with private non-profit or public agencies. Getting a job can be as simple as asking the department head or supervisor on duty.

I was the supervisor of university recreation. Highest paid student on campus, had 300 staff to manage and the keys to the building. I was a certified first responder too.

– Zephan Moses Blaxberg

Front desk at my dorm was awesome because it was a huge hub for the community. Everyone would just come and hang out. It taught me a lot about friendships.

 – Takara Sites 

Residence Assistant / Student Leadership

Did you know that some student leaders can earn money while running an organization or helping to host an event? Leadership positions give you experience, training, and big-time perks. Working as a resident assistant is one of the most coveted jobs. A resident assistant’s responsibilities can include creating a sense of community, helping students deal with living situations, and ensuring residents’ safety. Perks can include free room and board, leadership training, and lifelong friendships with residents and fellow RAs.

I was an RA and an Academic Mentor (live in student staff position) as well as worked in Admissions processing student applications. These jobs are what led me to a masters and now career in higher education! Now I get to continue to impact college students.

–Molly Kavanaugh

RA and Assistant Hall Director. Private room paid for as well as a full meal plan. Opportunities to pick up extra shifts at the front desk for a little spending money.

– Emily Glastetter

Sales (yes, sales)

Commission based jobs can help you make money and develop life skills that will apply to anything you do. From leasing apartments, to starting a T-shirt business, to selling knives there are lots of sales jobs out there. Vector Marketing is the sales arm for Cutco cutlery. John Israel needed to make $5,000 over the summer to cover the costs of his freshman year. He hit his number and never stopped. His second year in college he made $14,000. The third-year he made $22,000.  His senior year it was over $50,000. Two years later he was making six figures and it was his career. Learning how to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds has been immensely rewarding for him. Sales jobs teach you how to overcome rejection, build grit, and become resilient.

I had my own company making T-shirts for fraternities and sororities. It was a great way to meet girls and make money to pay for college. I ran it for 6 years through graduate school.

– Mike Moyer

Worked in the ID Card office for 3 years. 25 hours per week, very few weekends. Absolutely taught me how to work in customer service and I was able to use my social skills to build relationships!

– Jake Cloh

Micro-internship

There’s a new way to get a taste of what it’s like to work in a career field without having to go through the interview process. Parker Dewey connects employers with students interested in short-term projects. These jobs range from 5 to 40 hours of work and can pay anywhere from $15-$25 per hour. These micro-internships can give you real life experience, insight into career fields, and experiences to put on your resume. And the coolest part – you can build relationships that can turn into careers. Check out www.ParkerDewey.com.

I worked at a family owned retail store called Beehive. Along with the register, I managed their yearly inventory counts. Upon graduation, I moved to their wholesale side of the business managing that inventory and their shipments… 10 years later, I work at a food manufacturing plant managing raw material and packaging inventory transactions, gains/losses, and the cycle counts. As a college student, inventory was never a thought or a passion of mine, but once I started working with it…. I can’t imagine ever going back!

– Lizzie Hickman

I worked in the student union as a lighting and sound technician/building manager.  I had the world’s best boss who is a friend and mentor to this day. I got to work with and meet people from all different countries and walks of life. Oh yeah, I had keys to the building too

– Jeff Mossman Moss

Campus Brand Representatives

Have a brand you love?  Reach out to the marketing team and see if you can become a brand ambassador. Lots of companies are looking for students to be their voice and face.  You can be the face of energy drinks, test prep services, and ride share companies.  Work flexible hours, meet tons of people, and give away free stuff.  Don’t know where to start? Look for student ambassadors on campus and ask them how they got the job. Search “Campus Brand Ambassador” on LinkedIn and browse a long list of options. Also, visit your career center and ask them about the types of brand ambassador programs available.

Do Something You WANT to Do

Choose your own adventure.  Get a job that excites you. Do something you would NEVER imagine doing. Being a Barista will help you meet people, be more confident, and learn how a business works.  Working as an academic tutor will help you learn how to teach, listen, and change lives.  Working as a research assistant will give you access to thought leaders and campus influencers. Working as a tour guide in the welcome center will help you speak in public and connect with people.  A job you like can turn into a career you love. You have nothing to lose. Make getting a job a personal requirement.

My absolute favorite job still to this day was the 3 1/2 years I spent working with the intramural sports department as a volleyball official. It worked great with my schedule (usually 8-12 hrs./week, Sun-Th evenings). I got to watch some great (& not so great) talent/games, met so many people from across campus, & felt like I had an “in” with a crowd who enjoyed sports, but whom I would never have felt “cool enough” to talk to outside of my job. It gave me a lot of confidence, as well as fun experiences. 

– April Riggs