Are you planning to work while in college? Many college students work part time and full time jobs while going to school. In fact, a recent analysis by the Census Bureau found that in 2011, 20% of college undergraduate students worked full-time, year round. While you may not be planning to work a full time job there are still many benefits to getting some type of job while in college.
While the obvious benefit of working in college is making money, for personal spending and/or to cover cost of attendance, there are a number of other benefits to working in college.
– Gain experience in your area of interest. Look for jobs in areas that relate to a future interest, even if the job itself is not your dream job. You will get experience and a better understanding of the work environment and be able to keep a pulse on trends in the field and what the employers are looking for. Even if it is a just a part time job in a campus science lab or an administrative position at a local architecture firm you can still get a small foot in the door that may help shape your future job search.
– Make connections. The people you meet during your job in college may be able to help you in your future job search by writing a letter of recommendation or serving as a reference or helping you make other connections with colleagues.
– Help manage your time. Often, the busier you are and the more scheduled you are during the week the more it will force you to manage your time better. Some students who have too much free time on their hands end up wasting it. When you know that you have a very strict and routine schedule it forces you to develop some good time management skills.
– Make friends. If you are new on a college campus you may still be seeking out networks of friends. Particularly when looking at on campus jobs you may find that you will have the opportunity to work with other students. Look for jobs on campus in the rec center, library, dining hall, or even office of admissions! When I worked at CU-Boulder in admissions many of our student staff members became very good friends inside and outside their work environment.
–Learn new skills. Many on and off campus will push you to develop new skills or at least improve upon ones that you already have. Hone those communication, writing, or computer skills. They may come in handy upon graduation as you are embarking on your job search.
If you are thinking about working during college remember that it is all about balance. Particularly when arriving as a new incoming student there are many things you will be juggling. A new transition to campus, living on your own, difficult academics, new relationships, etc. The start of college can be overwhelming for some students and a new job can add to that stress. For some new students, it may be best to wait until their second semester so they can use that first semester to really adjust to life in college. For other students, waiting to get a job may not be an option due to financial constraints. No matter your position, remember it is important to find some balance and know when you are taking on too much. Be honest with yourself, your family and employers about what you can handle.