In April of my freshman year of college, my Politics 101 professor emailed me asking if I’d take a job as his research assistant. I was excited and honored, but also scared that I wasn’t capable of taking classes and working at the same time.
I’m now going into my third year as a research assistant, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. It looks great on my résumé, I’ve learned how to better manage my time, and I’m making money. I recommend finding a part-time job to everyone—it’s taught me as much as some classes I’ve taken.
You, too, can handle working while you’re in college. Here’s how to find a job that’s right for you—without work affecting your grades.
1. Determine How Much Time You Have
If you’re a freshman and need time to adjust, or if you have a time-consuming major, you might not be able to work a lot of hours. But your college likely has plenty of opportunities to increase your cash flow without taking too much time away from studying. My school hires a lot of dorm monitors and security escorts, and you’re allowed to do homework when you’re not checking student IDs or walking people back to their dorms.
Now, if you’re a year or two into college and have become a pro at time management, you can work more hours and you’ll have more options when it comes to jobs. To narrow those options down …
2. Figure Out What’s Important To You
If you want a job that looks good on your résumé, you’ll want to find something in your field of interest. Many academic departments look for teaching or research assistants if you’re interested in academia; see what’s available in your major. Other major-specific jobs: You could be a tutor if you’re interested in education, you could write for your school’s marketing department if you’re a marketing or communication major, or you could do tech support if you’re into computers.
If you just want to make money, or if you want to pick your own hours, check out different departments of your college, like the fitness center, the career center, or the residence life office. They may need receptionists or assistants, and they’ll likely understand how busy college life can get when scheduling your hours.
If you want something off campus to get a change of scenery, visit your local coffee shops or convenience stores—but make sure your manager knows when your classes are so you’re not scheduled at those times.
3. Surf The Web For Jobs
For on-campus jobs, visit your school’s employment website—it may be in the financial aid section. There you’ll find a list of all available positions. Your school may also have an employment directory for off-campus positions and internships.
If you want an off-campus job, you can go directly to the business’s website, or you can check LinkedIn and other sites with job listings.
4. Network With Faculty And Staff
While your school’s website is a great resource, you may have a better chance landing a job through networking. Talk to professors in your major and see if they know of any opportunities. They could ask you to work for them or help you find a job in their department.
If your friends have on-campus jobs, ask if there are any open positions or if you can talk to their manager. If you know a coach, see if they need a team manager. Your favorite club probably has a faculty advisor who could help you find a job. Don’t be afraid to reach out—it could lead to something great!
Once you land a job, remember Tom Petty’s wise words: “The work never ends, but college does.” (But ignore his not-so-wise words, “Spend money you don’t have.”) Don’t work too many hours and miss out on other opportunities—networking events, special lectures, or time with friends. Once you find your balance between school, work, and friends, you’ll realize you can have it all.
Do you juggle school and work? Tell us about it in the comments!