Working while you’re in school has many benefits personally, professionally and financially. It gives you the chance to network, stay productive and build your skill sets. Most importantly, you can earn some money and pay off your student loan debt early.
Students should pick the work they pursue as carefully as they choose their major in school. You don’t want to sell yourself short taking any job just for a convenient paycheck, especially if it won’t give you the experience you need. Some of your options for the upcoming fall semester could include:
- A work-study position on campus related to your field of study
- An off-campus part-time job
- An internship or externship which may offer paid compensation
You’ll want to pick an employment opportunity that works with your schedule and won’t affect class attendance, study time or homework. Consider some of the pros and cons of each opportunity below.
Positions are usually on-campus
Work-study positions are easy to find right on campus through your school’s career center. Some may be based off-campus as well.
A work-study job can save you money on gas, travel expenses or commute time since you’ll likely be on-campus or nearby. You can use that time instead attending class and earning academic credits.
Tuition assistance (and sometimes pay)
Unlike an outside part-time job, a work-study position is a school-sponsored position. It is a form of financial aid that may reimburse some of your tuition costs in lieu of loans.
Work-study positions may also offer a small hourly rate you can earn. During my time as an undergrad journalism major, the work-study position I held was writing and editing for a local arts newsletter. The position provided tuition assistance and part-time pay at the same time.
They provide some career experience
Work-study is essentially like an internship. I was lucky to find one that was related to my major, gave me relevant experience, and paid modestly all at once.
Find a work-study that complements what you’re studying in school and it becomes more than a job; it enhances your curriculum.
Positions may be competitive or scarce
Unlike part-time job opportunities which are numerous, there may be a shortage of options for the work-study program you’re interested in.
If you’re attending a smaller college, there may also be less work-study opportunities. On a larger campus, competition from other students may mean the position you want gets filled and won’t be available until the next academic semester or quarter.
Compensation may be low
Work-study isn’t like a job where you can request a desired wage or salary. Depending on the award, your financial aid assistance (or pay) is set by the school.
If the pay is low, your work-study program may feel like volunteer work at times.
Part-time job pros
Greater variety of opportunities
An off-campus job isn’t tied to a school in any way, so you’re free to look for any type of work you like, wherever you choose. Ultimately, there are more job opportunities available to you.
Additionally, you’re not limited in a number of hours you seek or how much money you can potentially earn. Unlike work-study, which is restricted to financial aid and school budget requirements, you may find an off-campus job that pays far higher than you’d expect.
It places you in a real-world environment
Finding a part-time position off campus may open the door to social and professional networking opportunities with people outside of the college community.
If you’re seeking a more professional position, it also gives you the chance to hone your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills. A part-time job will offer you real-world, career experience that could serve you well after graduation when you hit the job market.
Part-time job cons
Unless your part-time job is under the table, your pay is taxable income. The amount you earn with your job could affect the amount you receive in financial aid, whereas a work-study job is financial aid.
Although a work-study position on campus may establish specific hours for you to work, a part-time job places your employment at the discretion of your employer. They’re free to increase or decrease your pay or hours as they wish, which may interfere with your class schedule.
Outside employment is also at-will in most states, so your job can be terminated at any time.
Gas, bus or train fare to commute off campus to a part-time job can cut into the wages you earn. If you’re only able to work a few hours a week, these expenses can drastically minimize what you may earn.
Internships give you vital career exposure
An internship in your chosen career field can give you the hands-on experience and exposure you need to land your first job post-graduation.
Internships also allow students to learn more about the workings of their job industry, meet future colleagues, and build skills. An internship on your resume and positive reference from your mentor/supervisor are key assets to getting hired in the future.
You might get hired
Make a positive impression, and the company or organization you intern with off-campus might just end up becoming your first full-time job after graduation. Many internships segue into part-time or full-time positions.
Your foot is already in the door with an internship, giving you a competitive edge over other job applicants who don’t have previous internship experience with the organization.
Most internships aren’t paid
The price many students pay for an internship slot is no pay at all. Internships are usually unpaid, volunteer opportunities designed to impart career experience as compensation.
If you have expenses and student loans to pay, you may find yourself struggling to pay your bills, attend classes and fulfill your internship.
You may not like it
Your internship may teach you that you don’t like working in the career path you’ve picked. Or worse, you’ve been delegated to menial job tasks that nobody else will take.
While an internship can be a great opportunity for you to discover your strengths and weaknesses, it can also mean that you might need to change majors, or reassess your educational or career goals.
Aim for a mixture of experiences
Your class schedule permitting, look for a mixture of opportunities that impart the experience and income you need while still in school.
Instead of choosing between an internship or an off-campus job, think about splitting time between a part-time, unpaid internship and a paid, part-time position. This could be a good compromise that will earn you some money and give you some resume-building skills.
If you’re limited to a work-study, check with your school about how much it will reimburse you for financial aid and if workers get paid. If the work-study program is only one semester long, you can search for a paid internship or part-time job for the following semester.
Most of all, assess your own personal and educational preferences. Everyone’s situation — academic, financial and otherwise — is different.
At the end of the day, pursuing paid employment of any kind as a student will help you pay off your student loans and college costs in the long-run.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.04% – 13.04%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 11.10%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.92% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.72% – 9.68%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|