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Couldn't get that paid internship? That's OK, I know somewhere else that's usually hiring...

I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded person. For the most part, I try to stay away from dogma and generalizations because as we all know, sometimes they’re just flat-out wrong.

But this is one thing that I am absolutely not budging on.

If you are in college, there is no reason why you should not have a part-time job of some kind. I don’t care if you’re flipping burgers at the dining hall or doing some kind of high-powered paid internship. If all you’re doing at school is studying and hanging out, you’re doing it wrong.


If you haven’t guessed by now, this week’s Money Clip focuses on an article we mentioned last week from About.com, titled “Best Part Time Jobs for College Students.” While a lot of them are great choices (library monitors and fitness center employees make bank for minimal work), there are probably a bit harder to find (babysitting your professor’s children?!).

But I’m more concerned about the idea behind having a job at all, much less so than what you’re actually doing in said job.

Although you’re still a student when you move on from the world of horrendous lunches and lockers to the world of academia and dorm rooms, high school and college are nothing alike. In high school, you most likely had class 5 days a week for 8 hours a day (aka, a full-time job). I can almost understand the impetus behind not wanting to add some part-time money-making on top of that.

But that excuse completely falls apart when you go to college. Why? Well, mainly because:

  1. You probably live there, which means no time lost commuting back and forth.
  2. You do not have class every day of the week. It’s very easy to pull off a 3-day weekend with either no Friday or Monday classes. I know, I’ve done it 3 times (and only been in college for 4 semesters).
  3. College homework does not equal high school homework. I’m a homework nerd and tend to do it all anyway, but let’s be honest here: Nobody is going to collect your work to make sure you did it. There’s no excuse to not do it of course, but if you happen to skip an assigned reading here and there, the world will not end.

You probably see where I’m going with this: you have much more spare time in college than you did in high school. And studying does not (well, should not) eat all of it up. Neither should partying. So, to fill up all that time when you’d normally be slouched in your dorm burning through your Netflix account, get a job.

And for the sake of this post not turning into some kind of essay, I’m going to attempt to only briefly touch upon the sense of “job entitlement” that everyone seems to think that Gen Y has.

I do not care how smart you are, what unique skills you have, or how attractive you are. Your socio-economic background and upbringing are irrelevant. You are not above flipping burgers or cleaning bathrooms. No student is.

I worked in the fast food industry for 5 years (starting when I was 15 years old) to save up pocket money. Last year, I juggled a paid internship, a tutoring job, and a full course load. Now I’m here. Trust me, you will never understand what it means to move up the “corporate” ladder until you start at the very (and I mean very) bottom rung.

So, in short: Get a job while you’re at school. You have the time for it (I will fight to the death to prove that to you), and you need money. It also builds character and your résumé. The only thing you’ll lose is some free time.

I promise, it’s a worthwhile trade.

(Photo: Flickr/Kake Pugh)

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  1. Aaron Weber September 10, 2012 / 2:03 pm

    I’ve always felt that the guideline for college is 1 hour in the classroom and 3 hours studying. They’re not checking attendance as much, they’re not checking your homework as much, but you’ll get out of classes what you put into them. If you’re working more than 15 or 20 hours a week you’re going to have a hard time keeping up with classes and work, not to mention the need to actually sleep and have friends. (The sweet “do your homework at the information desk” jobs are perfect because you can do both at once. But you can’t study while washing dishes at the dining hall).

    A friend of mine worked opening shifts at Starbucks 24 hours a week plus her full-time school and found it crushing to her spirit and her grades.

    • Mike Restiano September 10, 2012 / 2:10 pm

      Exactly Aaron, I think it’s all about balance. Working more than 20 hours a week with a full course load is going to infringe on the time you need to do homework, go to class, have a life, etc. If you can get something in the 8-15 hour a week range, you’re golden. I did 12 hours a week this past year and it was perfect.

      Another advantage to on-campus jobs in addition to most of them being in office, (aka homework doing) settings, is that they’ll tend to not allow you to work more than 20 hours a week anyway. 24 hours a week at Starbucks sounds painful!

    • Ryan Lane September 10, 2012 / 2:18 pm

      Balance is key. I took a full set of courses while working full time as an editor at the school daily newspaper (which meant being there until about 2 a.m. every morning).

      I couldn’t handle the responsibility of pulling together a features section and all my school work every day (my assistant editor’s nightly tasks may or may not have been my Spanish homework).

      I quit the job after about a month.

      • Carolyn Cronin September 11, 2012 / 3:35 pm

        when I was in college I did the reading because i wanted to get my money’s worth.
        As for a job, I paid for my personal expenses by cleaning houses and nightime babysitting. The babysitting works well because once the child goes to sleep you can do that reading.

  2. Aaliyah Else March 3, 2013 / 10:44 pm

    I’m in school right now doing Pre-Vet. I take 17 hours and also have not one, but two jobs this semester. And it’s working fantastically for me. As a matter of fact, I’m doing exponentially better this semester than last semester. Granted this is my freshman year, but I don’t think last semester had as much to do with adjustment as I thought it would be. I think I’m doing better this semester because I know I have to budget my time according to all of my commitments. I work at baseball games usually 2-3 times per week, including weekends. During the week I work at the vet school about 10 hours a week. And please believe me, my courseload is not easy. Just for perspective, I’m taking a Chemistry Lecture, a Biology Lecture, and a Chemistry Lab and Biology Lab. For the Chemistry Lab alone, I write two lab reports a week. It is possible, and surprisingly I find it easy now. At the beginning it was really hard though! But you get used to it. I still get full nights of sleep, do all of my homework, and have time to go out with my boyfriend and socialize with friends. I’d rather be at the vet school than sleeping my days away anyway :)

    • Ryan Lane March 4, 2013 / 8:36 am

      That’s awesome, Aaliyah! Definitely keep us posted on how it’s going!

  3. Jismon George August 25, 2013 / 12:59 am

    Actually working part time enables us to create a confidence.It improves the quality of our responsibility.More over money and lessons the dependence from our guardian. The main thing is that perfectly suitable for our future by this practise.

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