If you plan to earn money by working in college, you'll need to understand the first steps to finding a job. Here are the basics.
When to Look for a College Job
Now. If you plan or need to start working right away, start looking now. Use the tips below to start your search before you leave home or as soon as you're moved in.
If you're counting on work-study earnings as part of your financial aid, be aware that those jobs sometimes fill quickly, so the sooner you start, the better. See other work-study tips.
Or later. Some students prefer to wait until they have at least a few weeks of managing a new class schedule, a different type of homework load and the college environment before adding a job to the mix. In that case, you should start looking for suitable work a month or more before you hope to start.
Where to Look for a College Job
Today's college students have multiple choices for the job search. As you search, remember that if you can tie your part-time job to your major or intended career, you'll also be gaining experience future employers may value.
College career center. Most campuses offer job postings through their career services area. Often, these are also listed online so you can begin looking before classes start.
Departmental offices. If you're interested in helping professors with administrative duties, tutoring other students, leading campus tours or becoming a resident assistant, you may approach specific offices directly.
Community and campus openings. Many college towns face an increased population of students, faculty, parents and sports fans during the academic year, and employers hire accordingly. Consider restaurants, sports facilities, retail outlets, gyms and even specialty openings like auto repair or photographer's assistant if you're qualified. You may also find that your skills as a babysitter or lawn worker in high demand from faculty and other residents.
Online searches. Find on- and off-campus jobs by searching for openings listed on the web.
How to Land a College Job
After looking at your options and considering how they mesh with your particular skills and goals, take steps to improve your chances of getting a job.
Apply early and often. You're likely not the only student looking at a particular job. Get your application in early, and apply for a number of different positions. If you have specific parameters, like you must work on campus, you may need to increase the number of jobs you apply for to improve your chances.
Reach out to an individual. Personal referrals often help if you know someone who already works for the employer you would like to work for. Even if you don't have a contact, researching and reaching out to a hiring manager can give you a leg up.
Be professional. Include a cover letter, a professional resume and references with your application if the position warrants it. (Your campus career center is a good resource for developing these items and determining their need.) Provide accurate contact information and be ready to respond to a phone call, text or email. If you meet with the employer, send a thank-you.
Prepare for interviews. You may need to schedule an interview around classes and other commitments. Make sure you put your best foot forward by preparing well.
Follow up. Don't assume a lack of timely response is a "no." Before you leave an interview, ask for a timeline and be prepared to call or email your interviewer for an update after that date. If an interview isn't required, it still doesn't hurt to call about progress on hiring for the position a few days after the application period closes.