Even if students come into school with some savings, money from graduation or a summer job tends to run out quickly. Because of this, students may want to consider a part-time job to keep income flowing throughout the year.
JULIE: For some, having their child work while in school isn't a choice; it's a necessity. When that's not the case, however, deciding whether your student should work can be a difficult decision, especially early on. Lindsey worked summers and school breaks during her freshman year, but didn't work while she was away at school. She carried a very full class load and focused on getting involved on campus instead.
[Find out how to make your extracurricular activities pay off.]
During the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Lindsey began applying for campus jobs for when she returned to school. She was able to snag one working 12 hours a week, and I think she would tell you that it has made her a better manager of her time.
Here are some things to consider when deciding if a part time job is right for your student:
1. Money: The biggest argument for working while attending school full time is no surprise. But there are other benefits as well.
[Ask these five questions in a money talk with your student.]
2. Credentials: A college work history is a résumé builder. While good grades and extracurricular activities are attractive, a work history demonstrates that the student can successfully balance different, demanding priorities.
3. Network: If the job is in the student's field of study, the benefits are even greater. It's an opportunity to gain relevant experience and build a network of people that could be beneficial after graduation.
[Learn 6 ways to network while in college.]
4. Balance: There are some drawbacks to working while attending school, especially in the first semester or year of college. The biggest consideration will be how working affects your child's academic success.
5. Other commitments: And if your student has a scholarship that depends on him or her maintaining a certain grade point average, it can be argued that bypassing work—or at least limiting the number of hours worked early on—is advisable.
LINDSEY: Getting a part-time job can be a great way to bring in extra cash, but here are some things I've learned about each step of the process from my own work experiences and from those of my friends.
1. Do an initial evaluation: The application and interview processes take time, so make sure you have the time and energy for a part-time job before you begin your search. Ensure that you'll have time for classes, extracurriculars, homework, and down time when determining whether a part time job is for you.
2. Stay flexible: You will apply to many more jobs than you'll receive interviews for, so keep your options open. You may have a dream job in mind, but make sure to apply for backups as well. I applied for 10 campus jobs this summer and only received interviews for two. Be willing to accept whatever job is offered to you, even if it's not your first choice.
3. Get a second opinion: Keep your application professional, no matter what job you're applying for. I had an adviser at my school's career center look over my résumé and a basic cover letter before applying for anything, which helped a lot. Even if you've applied for jobs before, have someone look at your materials.
[Find college job advice in the Hired Before Graduation blog.]
When in doubt, go more professional rather than less. Include a cover letter even if it doesn't explicitly ask for one. Make a follow-up call to ensure your application was received. Dress in correct business attire for the interview. Send your interviewer a note or E-mail thanking them for their time. It's the little things like this that can be the difference between getting a job and eating Ramen noodles for the next month.
4. Follow through on the job: This may seem self explanatory, but once you get a job, do a good job! Your supervisor at a part-time job can become a great reference when you begin looking for full-time jobs after graduation. Be there on time, follow the rules, and don't exaggerate on your timecard. It's that simple.
5. Continue to evaluate: At the same time, don't feel trapped in a part-time job if you discover it's too much, especially if it's hurting your academics. School should always take priority, so if a part-time job is having a negative effect on your grades, don't hesitate to give your two weeks' notice.