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How To Find A Job As A College Student

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

A small red sign that says "for hire" in white letters.

Perhaps a job isn’t the first thing you think of when imagining your life in college, but finding work as a college student is one of the best things you can do!

The hopeful end goal of your college career is to have a list of assets you have gained to get you your dream career. Why not start gaining those assets in a soft workplace while making yourself money?

Finding work as a college student can be difficult, especially when some employers are not looking to hire students who need specific schedules planned around classes.  Don’t worry – there are plenty of opportunities for finding work!

Work-Study Program

Have you ever heard of a work-study program? Work-study programs are offered by most universities; it is a state-funded or federal program that helps college students earn money within their university in exchange for tuition assistance.

There are a variety of work-study programs you can participate in, from those within your major to things benefiting your university (such as front desk jobs and tour guides) to much more.

Work-studies don’t often pay for all of your tuition; you’ll need a combination of scholarships and savings to pay for the rest. However, participating in a work-study program will save you money and help you build your professional resume. 

Off-Campus Jobs

If you are not interested in participating in a work-study program or don’t qualify to participate, no worries. There are plenty of off-campus jobs that are more than happy to accommodate students.

The first step to successfully landing a job is knowing where to look. Search for job postings on university student-friendly websites. Many websites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn often look for employees who are willing to work full-time or can work hours of the day you may not be available due to classes.

Sites such as Handshake, an employer website made JUST for college students, offer jobs which accommodate student needs. I personally found a flexible job as a campus videographer within a week of joining Handshake!

Job Fairs

If you want to show off your interviewing skills, attend job fairs hosted by your school. While many of these job fairs are for graduating students looking for work post-grad, many employers attend these job fairs to network and look for future interns. They may be more willing to work with your schedule and understand the need for balance between work and academics.

Aside from landing a potential job, job fairs are an excellent way to practice interviewing and networking while gaining insight on how to be a successful applicant for your future job applications.

Your College’s Career Center

Many universities also provide opportunities to visit a professional career center in addition to meeting with your own career counselor. Job applications can be confusing, and knowing where to find your fit may often need extra advice and insight.

Do not feel you have to do this on your own as it is completely normal and okay to ask for help. A career counselor can help review your job materials (such as your cover letter, portfolio and resume), give you pointers on searching for flexible careers you are interested in, and give you guidance to march in the right direction.

Some career centers have job boards for businesses recruiting college students only from your school. Although a career counselor can’t find your desired job for you, they can put you on the right path. Remember to soak in their advice and apply it individually. 

Pros and Cons of Working in College

So, where do you begin when you actually start the process of applying for your researched jobs? Here are some steps to take on your job application journey:

Make sure your contact information is in order and professional!

You want to make sure your employer has an easy time understanding who you are, where you live, and how they can contact you. If you are someone who lives in multiple places (such as in a home and a college dorm), do not put down both addresses on your resume. Instead, consider investing in a P.O. box so that your employer has an easy time understanding where to send things.

Make sure your phone number is yours as well as something you have access to daily. A home phone number while you live in your college dorm will not be helpful when an employer is trying to contact you.

Lastly, make sure the email you provide is professional and something you would want to share to your employer. When you apply for jobs, you don’t want the email on your resume to read: “moozicviber25@email.com”.

Instead, think of getting a professional “work only” email. Don’t make your email your full name, but don’t steer it too far from your identity either. (Example: if your name is John Smith, try doing jsmith13@email.com).

Helpful tip: try not to use school email addresses as you often lose access to those after you graduate! Save the hassle of forwarding yourself information and changing your email with your employer, and simply set up your applications with a personal email. 

Create a tailored resume and cover letter to each application.

I cannot emphasize this enough: DO NOT MAKE A GENERIC RESUME AND COVER LETTER!

Making a generic resume makes it seem as though the application isn’t important to you, and employers may glance yours over regardless of excellent qualifications. Rearrange your resume to present your relevant skills to each application. If you need tips for building your resume, check out our article here.

Once you land the interview, research the company beforehand. There is nothing more embarrassing than not knowing what your company stands for.

Not only will researching your company help with those “How do you personally like our services” questions, but it can also be an asset when trying to make an impression in your interview.

While you’re interviewing, use your research to drop hints that enhance the personal connection between you and your potential job. For example, if you are applying for a marketing interview, you can say something like, “I saw the Summer Blast promotion this company had back in 2019, and I personally loved it! The marketing was so chic and modern, and I’d love to contribute to projects like that in the future.”

Listed career background on your resume? Mention concrete examples in your interview!

Don’t just say you were a “camp counselor” back in the summer of 2018. Mention how much it challenged you and how much you loved it.

Always follow up!

Following up after your interview will set you apart from the rest of the application pool. If you have contact with the interviewer through email, send a warm, heartfelt “Thank You” for the time they spent speaking to you.

If you live near the company, think about dropping off a “Thank You” card at the reception desk labeled for the name of your interviewer. Regardless of the way you choose to say “Thank You.” make sure you say it.

 

It is important to remember to not sacrifice your mental health while working as a college student. With classes alone, your life will be busy enough.

If you can manage the balance with proper organization, then working a job in college will further help you be financially and professionally successful.

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