College is demanding. If you’re doing it right, it should feel like a full-time job. But business and academia are worlds apart, and more and more employers are saying that they’re not very confident in the abilities of newly minted college graduates to transition smoothly into a professional life. As college prices continue to rise, it becomes increasingly more difficult (even impossible) for students to pay their way through college with a side job, but regular paychecks, even small ones, can help pay for room and board, textbooks, and other course fees. Even if those are all covered, the extra money can help students unwind at a cafe (or a bar, if they’re old enough) and is a nice added benefit to having useful work experience and something that looks nice on a resume. But what are the best kinds of jobs to take?
The single most important factor in choosing a job is how much it will interfere with your daily class schedule and much-needed study time. What’s great about internships is that not only are they usually networked through the university, but employers enter the relationship understanding that school takes priority. The downside is that many internships are unpaid, but they more than make up for lack of cash with unparalleled networking opportunities and professional experience.
- Campus jobs
Campus jobs share similar benefits to internships. Because the university is the employer, they’re usually strictly prohibited from enforcing too rigorous a work schedule on the students. If the idea of working for the people who get your tuition money irks you, you can always take your culinary talents – or develop some – and set up a small food stand or food truck to serve students on their way to and from class. There are plenty of options for coffee shop point of sale that can make running your tiny business a breeze.
Retail is not high on the list of people’s favorite jobs, but it’s an honest salary and so many employees come from high school or college backgrounds that employers are generally understanding when it comes to scheduling, and if you get to know your co-workers they can help you cover your shifts if you need emergency study time. If you do good work, it can also segue into being a real post-college career if you decide you want to move into management.
Freelancing allows you to work directly in your chosen career path and build a portfolio of respectable work while earning money at your own pace. It’s ideal for forward-thinking students, especially those in the creative arts, with entrepreneurial spirit and good time management skills.
- Seasonal Work
Seasonal work can be in a variety of fields and disciplines, but the main perk is that it can help you fill that downtime between semesters that many traditional employers would rather avoid hiring you for if they know you’ll be gone again before the end of the year. Seasonal work also tends to be high-volume in a short period of time, so as soon as it’s over the next semester will be coming around the corner and you’ll have sufficiently deep pockets to pay for your textbooks and course fees, and maybe even a little recreation on the side.