As an incoming college student, there is one decision you will likely face early on that deserves some thought before you actually get started. We addressed some of the unexpected college costs a few weeks back and when combined with the big ones (tuition, rent, books, etc.), it makes sense to think about what kind of jobs are available for college students, and even more about which is better for you: a job outside your career path that earns more money, or one that gives you experience in your prospective career but pays less. Taylor F., from Sacramento, Calif., asks:
Q: I know I'll need to work when I'm in college to help cover bills. What are some convenient and decently paying jobs for college students?
A: Experience pays.
Steve Loflin, founder and CEO, National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Getting a job is really important during college. Working with employers, I have learned many of them are asking if the student has had any work experience before getting any consideration. Work can be volunteer or for pay but you get experience that shows you can commit to a schedule and manage time. Additionally, you will build relationships that translate into recommendations when pursuing future opportunities. Consider on-campus positions for convenience; Resident Assistant or orientation leader positions will get you some money, possibly free housing, and also will get you trained in a variety of skills that are transferable. Also, ask your favorite professors if they are hiring or inquire in the department that is most aligned with your future goals. Be creative, persistent, and reap the rewards immediately and in the future.
[See how LinkedIn offers new options for students.]
A: Getting a part-time college job pays off beyond the paycheck.
Katherine Cohen, founder and CEO, IvyWise and ApplyWise.com
While you won't earn enough money to cover college tuition, getting a part-time job can help cover expenses while providing important life lessons. Whether you decide to work at the campus store, babysit for a family in the school community, or take advantage of work-study opportunities on/off campus, you'll develop a strong work ethic and be better prepared for the working world. A job can also help you confirm career aspirations, discover new interests, and gain firsthand experience. If you're interested in pursuing a law degree, consider administrative work at a law office. If your college town has limited options for your chosen field, start your own business. Whether you are a computer science major running a computer repair service or a graphic design major doing freelance work, starting your own business shows future employers your leadership skills.
[See 10 college jobs that look good on a résumé.]
A: Go for college dollars with campus benefits.
James Montoya, vice president of higher education, The College Board
The "best paying" jobs are those that provide you with benefits beyond just dollars. Consider working on campus as a student assistant in the Student Activities Office, Admissions Office, or Biology Department. You'll have exposure to administrators, faculty, and other students—and unexpected opportunities. If you're living on campus, avoid working during meal times. Dining with dorm mates is a time to exchange ideas, build friendships, and have fun.
A: You probably thought…
Michele Hernandez, president and founder, HernandezCollegeConsulting.com and ApplicationBootCamp.com
Finding a job in college is a good way to show graduate schools that you are hard working and willing to work. Some of the most coveted campus jobs are in the various libraries as you can gain experience in research/academic work while also getting some reading done. Graduate schools are always impressed by students who start their own entrepreneurial businesses. I've worked with students who have started a futon business, dorm decorating business, and food delivery service, among other neat ideas. Think about the needs of college students. How you can help out? Many colleges have extensive alumni networks, so take advantage of networking to find a job in your off term in law, banking, real estate, or any area that interests you.
[Read about why students should consider entrepreneurship.]
Visit the Unigo Expert Network for more than 30 experts revealing the best jobs for college students, and to have your own questions answered.