Summer is here and that means that many young adults are preparing for their first year of college (or even another year of college). College years are an important part of any young adult’s life. Not only is this the most popular phase in one’s life to establish a career track, it also is the place where young adults are faced to take on many of life’s financial challenges.
Unfortunately, too many young adults do not take college seriously. They enjoy the parties, late-nights, and other events that will always remain unspoken. College is similar to a prison to many. You put in your time in order to get one piece of paper, which will ultimately grant you freedom – or so it seems. Getting a college degree does not give you a free pass to landing a high-paying job. In fact, many people graduate college without a job and are therefore forced to live with their parents after graduating just to survive.I don’t know about you, but I would rather set myself up for success than failure.
Your chances at success immediately following college will be greatly increased with not only getting a job in college, but finding the best job while in school. While compensation may be an important immediate need, there are other things to consider when getting a job in college. While it may not seem like it, there are many options for employment in college.
Jobs Available to College Students
Pizza Delivery – Pizza delivery is one of those cliche jobs to have while in college. Yet, it isn’t without a reason. Between the almost-guaranteed free pizza at the end of the night and potential tips, it can be a smart job to have in order to pay your way through school. Yet, it might not give you the experience necessary for landing that salary job right out of school.
Office Job – Getting an office position, whether it’s on campus or not, will provide you with the experience that you are lacking as a pizza delivery person. Most office-jobs want relevant experience and this would give you that, without a doubt. Yet, don’t expect to be earning a lot of money for the menial tasks that you are most likely to be assigned. Filing, answering phones, responding to emails are not the most challenging tasks and will be compensated appropriately.
Residential Life – Working in “Res Life” can be a great opportunity for most students. The nature of the job will force you develop both administrative and inter-personal skills. The tasks associated with being a live-in supervisor of some sort (whether it’s a resident assistant managing the floor or resident director supervising the residence hall), can provide necessary experience that can transfer to a variety of career opportunities. While the on-call hours of an RA or RD may not seem appealing to everyone, the flexibility can allow you to prioritize your studies and even allow a motivated person to seek additional employment.
Criteria for Best Job in College
While there are certainly more options available than the ones mentioned above, this should give you an idea of the important things to consider when finding employment while in school. If it’s not that obvious, here is a list of things to consider when looking for the best job in college (in no particular order):
- Immediate Compensation – How much will you get paid? Will you get paid for time off? Will this be enough to pay your bills in college?
- Tasks Required – Will you enjoy working in this position? Will you dread going to work? Are you able to perform at a high level or are the necessary tasks beyond your abilities?
- Schedule – Will the employer be willing and able to work around your class schedule OR will you be forced to take certain courses in order to prioritize work? Can you get time off in a moment’s notice? Will you be forced to work nights and weekends, thereby hindering your social life?
- Experience – Will this job give you the experience necessary to succeed after college? Is this position in a similar field to your major? Will this experience translate well into your desired career track?
Selecting the best job means more than finding the highest paying job (another reason why the highest paying job is not the best one). I believe that the best job in college is one that will give you experience in your desired field (thereby increasing your chance of landing your dream job), while at the same time also giving you other options. I found this to be true in my life as I went the Residential Life route. I not only developed a lot of professional skills, but I succeeded and was even offered a professional position as a Residence Hall Director my senior year in college. This as a result, set me in a great financial position at graduation from college, allowing me to establish an emergency fund without having to make any hard sacrifices. Perhaps more importantly, it provided me with excellent work experience (with references) that allowed me to get a job after graduation.
What do you think is the best job for college students? If you already graduated college, how did your job affect your career path?
i had many jobs during college, delivering pizza was actually my favorite. you make a lot of money, meet a lot of people, and it is actually pretty fun.. i bet gas prices take an even bigger hunk these days, however.
i also worked many res life positions and enjoyed those as well..
Great point about gas prices. At least they are coming down a little bit where I am at.
I worked in retail management and it definitely helped me find jobs, and was good for me to make money.
That’s great! Another good option.
My best job in college is when I was a TA. The tuition deduction was great and I liked working with new students. It didn’t really further my career search or anything like that though.
Wow, you got tuition deduction for being a TA? Yeah, sometimes it doesn’t have to influence your career directly. Sometimes it’s just work experience that matters.
I would recommend that students find a job in the area they wish to work after graduate. They’ll accomplish two things by doing so. One, valuable experience will be gained, making it easier to find a job post graduation. They will also have the opportunity to find out if they enjoy the work before they begin their full-time careers.
Agreed – there is nothing worse than getting in a job after graduation and realizing that you hate it.
I worked at University Career Services while at college. I got to network with tons of companies coming to recruit students in a less forced environment because it was helping them out during career fairs and such, also got paid to do homework on a lot of days when it was not busy.
You forgot to mention blogging! SEO, HTML, and a host of other acronyms also look great on a resume if you’re going into the tech field 🙂
Great point. SEO is also great for marketing jobs as well. A friend of mine told me its essential for jobs similar to hers (writing PR content, website stuff, other marketing stuff)
One of my favorite jobs was tutoring. It was flexible and paid more than the other on-campus jobs. Since I was planning on taking the MCAT, tutoring was a good way to keep all the knowlegdge from my biology and chemistry classes fresh, so I didn’t have to study as much when test time came.
Flexible hours is sooo important in college. It allows you to keep the social life and make a few bucks, while also focusing on school.
I’m a rising sophomore and I love my job at the birdy. Its a start up so there’s a lot of responsibility and hands on learning. I think its the best way to go jobwise.
I second Jacob’s opinion of a blog — one of my cousins wants to go into advertising — I told her she should start a blog where she just uploads her finished products right now.
Yeah, that’s a great suggestion. So much is happening online nowadays.
It’s definitely hard finding a good, high paying, flexible job in college, I sure wasn’t able to do it, but I did find that working at the college you’re going to college is probably your best bet. I worked at my school’s bookstore and made a pretty good wage though it was only for a 3 month seasonal contract.
Yes, it can be difficult… especially in this economy. University budgets are limited and often only work study (fed. min. wage) jobs are available. Sometimes looking for a job can also be helpful in one’s career – to prepare yourself for how hard it can be.
When I was in college I was lucky enough to get into the I.T. department as a student worker. I worked the help desk for part of it, which was not nearly as good a job as on-site tech support (think library and computer labs). It was generally laid back and allowed you to do homework in the down time. You obviously learn a thing or two since you have to help students with their tech-related questions. It was generally flexible and easy to pick up and drop hours. Pay wasn’t super high, but it was definitely worth it because of the other perks I just mentioned.
Would highly recommend college students try to get an on-campus job similar to this. Flexibility & ability to do homework on the job are two things students should look for in a job.
Wouldn’t the best advice for a job in college would be to focus on trying to get an internship or a co-op program. This way a student can not only earn valuable experience but usually can secure themselves future employment when tey retire.
I was an itnern, made possible by my university, and i earned a healthy salary doing so. It was much better than one would get from deliverying pizza that is for sure.
Just my 2cents
Many internships that I am aware of are unpaid. It’s good to hear you were successful with it though. That’s a great alternative.
Really? Maybe its because i am Canadian because here in Canada all internships and co-ops are paid. The pay ranges from minimum wage up to regular salary.
Interestingly, i did an itnernship in Fremont, CA (silicon valley) and they pay was $58K/yr adjusted for inflation (18-month term). Of course the job description required a little bit more skill sets for us interns but it was great. I also think it was higher than normal because of the area we were in (prices in Silicon Valley — during the bubble — was very high for everything).
Anyway, great site and glad i stumbled here. Keep up the great work!
Btw how do i set my avatar picture like everyone else here?
Go to gravatar.com and set up an account with the email that you are using in the comments.
I worked as a nightclub promoter, selling tickets and sorting birthdays and VIPs. It was great fun, easy money and taught me the importance of networking. It also makes you very popular on a night out as you’re the guy with all the VIP wristbands! I highly recommend this job to anyone with a decent sized network.