How and Why to Get an On-Campus Job

Working at college has benefits, but you have to know how to land a spot first.

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Many students want or need to work during college, but not all jobs are created equal. Working on campus is something every student should give serious consideration.


Recently, I attended a Parent Association Advisory Board meeting at the University of Kansas, and the conversation turned to students working during college. The college administrators present reminded me of the special advantages of working on campus. Here are a few:

1. A school-friendly schedule: No one understands the demands on a college student quite like campus employers. They're also familiar with the college schedule, including breaks and finals, and tend to work around those if possible.

[See 10 paying college jobs that look great on a résumé.]

2. A financial solution: A campus job can sometimes be part of a student's financial package, in the form of a work-study job. Filling out the FAFSA will help your child know if he or she is eligible for this kind of aid.

[Avoid making these seven mistakes on your FAFSA.]

3. Caring adults: College is a time of transition. Most students aren't children anymore, but they aren't quite adults, either—at least when they first arrive at school. A campus job ensures that your child will regularly come into contact with adults who generally have his or her best interest in mind.

4. Great references: Those caring adults mentioned above can also be the source of some great references for future employment or graduate school. If your student works to secure a job in his or her field of study, those references will be even more valuable.

[Learn more about references for college graduates.]


I didn't work during my freshman year of school, but at the beginning of my sophomore year I knew I wanted to get a job, and I wanted it to be on campus. These types of jobs, however, are harder to come by than you might think. Here's a few ways to make your campus job search more successful:

1. Cast a wide net: While I had always wanted to work in the library or the journalism school, those weren't the jobs for which I got interviews.

I applied for 10 campus jobs at the beginning of the year, got interviews for three, and only one ended up working out for me. If you're really interested in a campus job, don't be too picky about which one it is; most of them are relatively similar.

[Read 10 considerations for having a part-time job in college.]

2. Follow up: Supervisors for campus jobs differ from supervisors at other jobs, because they often double as lecturers, researchers, authors, and more.

Hiring a student assistant is not always at the top of their to-do lists, so keeping in touch with them may be what sets you apart from the rest of the applicants.

3. Be professional: It may sound like common sense to be professional in a job interview, but I have seen too many of my peers go to interviews underdressed or acting too informal.

[Find out how to dress for an interview.]

A campus job interview is still an interview, so treat it like one. Shake the person's hand, show up five minutes early, and never wear jeans. These are some of the easiest ways to show the employer that you are serious about the position.