Student opinion: Working while in college

What to look for in a student job

Working while in college is challenging, yet rewarding. Juggling all of your school work, at home responsibilities and job responsibilities can be a tough routine to make. However, after a month or two you will hardly ever be strapped for time.  

A big part of relieving the stress of working while in college can be finding the right job. Whether it be work -study, an on campus job, a retail job, fast food or any other industry, there are a few things you should look for when it comes to a job search.  

First, you need to look for a job with a flexible schedule. A schedule where you are able to accommodate your class schedule and still work enough to pay your bills. You can find this in retail jobs like a grocery store or chain store, fast food restaurants, on-campus jobs and work study jobs. Most jobs that are hourly are willing to work around your schedule. Just make sure to tell them your availability when getting hired to make sure that your available hours fit what they are looking for.  

Second, you are looking for a job that pays enough per hour to pay your bills. Jobs that pay minimum wage or less than $12 an hour typically don’t cut it for students who live on their own. Most students aren’t going to be able to work more than 25 hours per week with a full class schedule. This means a job that pays minimum wage will not make enough to pay for rent, groceries and gas. 

Many area jobs start at $12 per hour and some go all the way to $18 per hour. So it takes some looking around to find the wage that works for you.  

Third, you should look for a job that has a flexible attendance policy. Jobs that have strict attendance guidelines and point systems can be a hassle with the weird schedule of a college student with class related activities coming up at the last minute.  

Finally, you need a job that you will enjoy doing. Working at a job that makes your brain hurt from how boring or tedious it is, isn’t a sustainable job. Sure it might work for you right now but it could lead to burnout if you’re not enjoying the work.  

Overall, it’s important to look at all of these factors when considering your next job. Remember, online job boards and the college’s own Handshake app are great ways to get connected with employers.

Finding the right work-life balance

As many students navigate the rigors of collegiate life, all too often they find themselves embroiled in the murky waters of both academia and the complexities of the workplace.  Indeed, each of these worlds come with their own set of pre-determined rules and norms for achieving certain levels of success.   

But for students, the challenges of working while in school can present extra added stress that can have an adverse effect on their academic performance.  Therefore, it is important that students carefully find a balance between the two by establishing personal ground rules for each area. 

Initially, it is important that students work closely with their academic advisors to create a course schedule that not only follows their program guidelines, but also seek employment that aligns with their class loads.  This includes both on- and off-campus jobs that allows maximum flexibility to afford time to complete assignments, participate in study groups, as well as engagement in social outlets such as participation in clubs or organizations of their interest.  Moreover, it is equally important to build relationships with work supervisors who will allow time off to study for exams, projects and other academic endeavors such as attendance at conferences.  In essence, students should seek workplace supervisors who value their academic achievements and respect their ability to balance both academia and the workplace simultaneously. 

Secondly, students should plan a weekly schedule which allows time to study an additional 3-4 hours for each 3-semester hours in which they are enrolled.  And depending on one’s major, these hours may be increased where necessary.  With a solid academic schedule in place, additional time performed while in the workplace should not interfere with this pre-determined schedule. 

Additionally, students might consider building relationships with classmates who are be able to support them in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as an illness. 

Finally, in balancing both work and academic life, it is important that students set clear boundaries on the importance of things that are most critically important to them, whether it is success in the workplace, the classroom or both.

Categories: Editorials, Opinion