College is one of the most expensive time of our lives. With over $1 trillion in student debt in the U.S., it's no surprise that college students tend to balance a job while being a full- time student. With tuition only growing, a part-time job becomes a necessity for nearly 80% of students. So not only are we expected to reach astronomically high expectations with our grades, but we are also expected to make an income to pay $900 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment that you share with 5 other people. Being a working student since I was 16, I've learned a few ropes in the part-time job world and I hope I can help y'all out too!
The first thing you can do is to start early−as in before college. If you're already in college, utilize holidays and summer to really stack up hours! Start working as early as you can and save up to create less of a burden and a struggle for yourself when you're older. I started working a part-time job when I was 16. I worked as a seasonal server, traffic director and in fast food. I literally tried to find any job I could and worked it until something else came along. Saving portions of my paycheck allowed me to go to college with a good amount in my bank account. Nothing crazy, but definitely enough to give me time to adjust to college and then find a part-time job. After my first semester of college, I decided that I would need to get a job in order to support myself once I was living off-campus. Especially living in the Bay Area, I knew rent was not going to be nice to me.
How to look for a job
I definitely recommend getting a job on-campus. A great way to find on-campus jobs is to simply pay attention around campus. For example, when visiting the dining halls or on-campus coffee shops, look to see if there are any "Now Hiring" signs. Along with this, check out your school's website. Many schools have job listings specifically for students. This may be jobs at your school's library, as an assistant, campus store or working in the dining halls. All in all, on-campus jobs are the most convenient.With an on-campus job, being a student is the number one priority. That being said, on-campus jobs are usually a lot more lenient with schedules−understanding extra time off for midterms and finals. Another perk of an on-campus job is the connections you can make through work! Working as an assistant can open doors to internships, other job opportunities and personal insight. Along with this, on-campus jobs do pay more. Of course, this varies with schools and jobs, but my experience has shown that working on-campus pays more than off-campus jobs.
Finding off-campus jobs in your college town is another option. Due to the fact that it's a college town, off-campus bosses might be lenient towards scheduling, but definitely not as much as an on-campus job would be. One perks of working off-campus jobs is the ability to interact with more diverse people whereas you may be limited to how much human interaction you have with on-campus jobs (i.e assistants, library security, etc). The easiest and quickest way to find off-campus jobs is through fast food and restaurants. Next, I would recommend looking into retail stores. Overall, look at small, local shops before trying to get jobs at big brands and companies.
All-in-all: don't limit yourself. Remember that these small jobs will give you skills you need for your dream job! A busy resume is better than a blank one. My biggest advice for looking for a part-time job is to apply for everything and see the options you have.
How can I be a student AND have a job?
Being a full-time student with a part-time job is challenging work! I definitely recommend holding off on getting a job for a few weeks so you can get used to your school schedule and your class workloads. When asked for your availability, it is crucial to factor in study time! Make sure you realize that you'll need time to study and do homework so working a full day is not the best. Also, realize that your job is part-time! I know we all want to live comfortably, but you're a student before anything! Your education is important to further a career, and overall will make you a better living. Having to live paycheck to paycheck is hard, but it's all part of the college experience.
If you find yourself unable to keep up with schoolwork, it may be time to quit your job. A good tip that I've learned is to save a certain percentage of your paycheck. For example, saving 20% of your paycheck into your savings account can add up, and end up helping you with a few months of rent. This allows you to be able to quit your job (if necessary) to get back on track and apply for something else later.
Don't be scared to ask for days off. Of course, you shouldn't be asking to take time off when you've only been working a few months. But, like I've said before, you're a student first. Organize and map out study times and when you will absolutely need time off. Let your boss know early and never put your education at risk for a job. Trust me!
You can do it!
College students are faced with crazy expectations. Not only are we expected to have impeccable grades, but we're also expected to be stable in all ways: financially, emotionally, mentally, etc. Balancing school with your health is already enough. Only add a job to the equation if you need to or if you want to! Don't be pressured into doing more than what's good for you. Whatever you decide, I support you!
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