8 Tips for Lining Up Your Part-Time College Job

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As a college student, you’re busy juggling classes, extracurriculars and social time. But many students also find a place in their hectic schedules to work. If you snag one of the best-paying part-time jobs for college students, it can make all the difference in helping offset the costs of tuition — and minimize the amount you need to borrow in student loans.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 43% of full-time college students and 81% of part-time students in 2017 held jobs during the school year. Although finding a part-time college job with little or no experience can be tricky, it’s certainly possible if you follow these eight tips.

  1. Start your search early
  2. Polish up your resume
  3. Attend an on-campus job fair
  4. Make the most of work-study
  5. Search for on-campus opportunities
  6. Look for a flexible off-campus job
  7. Seek out a paid internship
  8. Look for online jobs or freelancing gigs

1. Start your search early

Even if you’re looking for on-campus work, you don’t have to wait for the semester to start to line up your part-time college job. Instead, start searching for opportunities a semester ahead of time or during the summer.

“Begin your job search early,” advised Diana Brush, associate director of Clarion University’s Center for Career and Professional Development. Looking for work “the semester before you would like to start employment is highly recommended.”

The hiring process isn’t always quick, so you’ll want plenty of time for your search. Plus, employers need a few weeks to line up the right candidate.

“Many employers will start advertising and interviewing for fall semester vacancies in the spring or during the summer,” said Brush. “Be aware that processing reference checks, hiring paperwork and job clearances can take several weeks.”

That said, don’t feel like you’re out of luck if you’re starting late, as you can probably still find off-campus jobs, even if the on-campus pool has dried up. But if you can, start early so you can check the job search off your list before heading back to campus.

2. Polish up your resume

Before you apply for positions, you’ll need to get your resume in good shape (or design a new one). To get started, check out resume templates on sites such as Google or Etsy.

While you might not have much — or any — work history, you can include details on your education, volunteer experience and club involvement or leadership positions.

Your college can also help. Brush said it’s best to “check with your career center for resume-building resources, and then send a draft to your career center for review by professional staff.”

You might also prepare a cover letter, as well as collect some references from any past employers or supervisors so you’re completely ready to start applying to jobs.

3. Attend an on-campus job fair

Many colleges hold job fairs at the start of the school year so students can meet with prospective employers. Although some of these positions will likely be full-time, you might also be able to find flexible part-time work and internships.

At the very least, you’ll get practice networking with prospective employers and presenting yourself in a professional way.

Study who is going to attend the job fair before you go so you can come up with a game plan. Target the employers you’re most excited about, and make sure to follow-up after your meeting. Your attendance could lead to a job offer for the upcoming semester or after you graduate.

4. Make the most of work-study

If you’ve got financial need, you might qualify for the federal work-study program, which offers on-campus or off-campus jobs for a certain number of hours per week.

However, although work-study puts you in the running for certain jobs, it doesn’t guarantee you one. You’ll still need to apply, interview and get hired. Plus, some schools have limited opportunities, so you’ll want to start your search early to make sure positions don’t run out.

If you’re eligible for work-study, make sure to read over the terms of your offer and check with your school’s student employment office about opportunities. Although work-study can be a straightforward way to earn money, the program might not include the best-paying part-time jobs for college students.

5. Search for on-campus opportunities

Even if you’re not eligible for work-study, you might be able to snag an on-campus job in a research lab, the library or another building on campus.

“The best way to find a flexible, part-time college job is to start by looking at opportunities on campus,” said Emily Kern, founder of Talent Financial, which provides small business consulting and personal finance coaching services. “Jobs on campus are often geared towards college students and, thus, offer more flexibility around class schedules and holiday breaks than more traditional jobs.”

Plus, a slow-paced job could give you time to get work done.

“In college, I worked at the front desk of the student athlete academic center on campus,” said Kern. “Once I checked the students in for their tutoring sessions on the hour, I had 45 minutes of silence to work on school work, check email, etc. before the next wave of sessions started … I worked with a team of seven college students who all helped each other out with covering shifts, and I was able to be productive and make money simultaneously.”

To find on-campus jobs, check your student employment office’s job board, as well as ads at your campus library, career services office, academic buildings or other areas for students. You might also mention to professors you are job hunting, in case they know about other research opportunities.

6. Look for a flexible off-campus job

Venturing off-campus is another way to find jobs for college students, even those with no experience.

“Look locally around your college,” suggested Yaz Purnell, founder of personal finance blog The Wallet Moth. “Find the smaller, independent stores, cafés and restaurants that are used to hiring students, and therefore are happy to give you more flexible hours and make less demands of you around exam time.”

While she was in school, Purnell worked at a local deli a couple days per week, making lunches and drinks. The income helped her pay for living expenses, and she appreciated the break from academic work.

Again, your student employment office’s job board might have postings from local businesses or even from families looking for babysitters. You could also look at other online job boards or venture into local businesses in person to inquire about opportunities.

If you can find something flexible that doesn’t get in the way of your schoolwork, you might enjoy going off campus every once in a while.

7. Seek out a paid internship

Unpaid internships can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities, but they’re not so accessible to students who need to make money. Fortunately, some companies offer paid internships, so you can learn and make connections without sacrificing a paycheck.

Reach out to your career services office about paid internship opportunities, and search online, as well. If you have any companies in mind, you could also reach out directly to their human resources departments to inquire about paid internship opportunities.

Who knows, you might also get course credit for your work.

8. Look for online jobs or freelancing gigs

If working off-campus is more of a hassle than a perk, you can find a part-time job for college students at home by looking online. If you’ve got web development, design, writing, editing or other skills that lend themselves to online work, you could find a remote job or freelancing gigs that allow you to make money from the comfort of your computer.

“In today’s world, college students do not need to rely on traditional part-time jobs,” said Chhavi Agarwal, founder of work-from-home jobs blog Mrs Daaku Studio. “Instead, you can look to start a freelancing career and offer services like proofreading, editing, transcription, voice acting [or] virtual assistance.”

Freelance marketplaces, such as Upwork and Freelancer, can connect you with clients. Or you might find a part-time online job using a remote job board, such as Remote.co or FlexJobs. You can find work in a wide variety of categories, including writing, teaching and administrative work.

If you want online work that doesn’t require you to be glued to a computer, you could also try a flexible side gig, such as driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering takeout orders with BiteSquad or Postmates, walking dogs with Rover, running errands with TaskRabbit or shopping for groceries with Instacart.

These companies let you set your own schedule, and you can keep up this side gig as long as you want.

Reaping the benefits of part-time jobs for students

If you can fit a part-time job into your busy schedule, you might make enough money to defray the costs of college, at least by covering your living expenses. This income could mean borrowing less in student loans, so you won’t be overly burdened by debt after graduation.

Depending on the job, you might also gain valuable work experience or make connections with professionals in an industry of interest. So prepare your resume and apply early, and make sure to consider on-campus, off-campus and online jobs as you search.

Eventually, you’ll likely be able to find a part-time job as a college student that’s flexible with your busy schedule — and pays well, too.

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