As people are making their choices about where they want to be over the next four years, one of the most important choices a student makes when in college is finding a job both in the sense of in school and after graduation. When I received my financial aid and saw the work study portion, I didn’t think much of how I would secure a job or what seems cool, but knew that if I was able to find something on campus it would be convenient and cheaper than traveling to and from work off campus. What I liked about the idea of work study was that I would be able to gain some financial independence from my dad and would be able to pay for things I might want including off campus food once I got tired of dining hall options and contribute in small ways to my education such as buying my own textbooks or helping to pay my tuition. I got lucky freshman year in that when I was doing a summer program before the first semester my program organized a job fair just for us and I saw a table at BC Athletics in the Video Production department and pretty much got a job by saying my availability to work different games. From what I’ve heard, the usual experience is kind of a mad dash of applying to jobs on campus, but for most schools there are usually a lot of different jobs that students can do for work study whether that is working for an academic department, dining services, or library. While I know of some people who choose not to work during their first semester or all of freshman year to focus on academics or “enjoy college”, I personally think that gaining some sort of financial independence from a work study job is worth it along with the fact that it is money that the government is pretty much giving to you just to in some cases do homework in an office or library.
I’ll be honest and admit that even as a soon to be senior that finding the perfect balance between work, school, and friends is still a challenge and especially as a first generation college student. First semester freshman year, I got really involved on campus and began making friends but I wasn’t able to work that many hours do to my commitments. Second semester I reexamined my priorities and decided that some of my involvements weren’t worth the fact that I couldn’t work certain hours and just focused on maintaining my grades and working. Sophomore year, I finally started to make strides in that I was better able to handle work and academics. Every single weekend pretty much I spent it working athletic events and I somehow managed to take on another job as an RA, volunteer, and make the dean’s list. A major sacrifice I ended up making was that I didn’t make the effort to continue some friendships or work on some social circles within my year that just began to drift as I was living among freshman and started to befriend residents within my community.
I would love to say that I figured out how to better balance work, academics, and social life as a junior, but instead of taking on less I took on more as opportunities just presented itself my way including a retail job at Under Armour, leadership positions, and volunteering. The reason why I took another job off campus was that I didn’t feel as though I wasn’t being scheduled for games as much as I was last year at BC Athletics. This year especially I didn’t want to just wait for opportunities to come my way I wanted to create them and take chances to get as much as I could out of the little time I have remaining in college. As a junior, I’ve been focused on the internship search which is only a step below in terms of stress to the full time job search, and I can definitely say that potential employers would prefer candidates who had some kind of experience no matter if it’s an on campus job doing analytic research or a barista at a Starbucks off campus. For liberal arts students such as myself, I think that being able to leverage work experience on or off campus is a major advantage to sway recruiters who may at first glance be hesitant because of the “hard skills” you might lack being that the experience you have shows your work ethic and the “soft skills” that make you not just a good employee but keeps an organization functioning and welcoming.
As a humanities student myself, I’m proud to say that because of my work experience and willingness to go to career fairs and workshops I ended up getting an internship this summer at Discovery Communications network doing advertising and sales. I’m a huge proponent of telling students to follow whatever they are passionate about no matter what others think about their studies because when you talk to professionals in different fields there’s not always correlation between what people studied and what they do. What you learn in the classroom is only supplementary to what you do in your free time. A person’s work study job can be more than just a source of income but can develop into a springboard where someone can jump into a potential career path or serve to hone skills for another job in the future. Getting a job can be as challenging as applying to colleges, but for those who are willing to put in the effort to go to events put on by their school’s career center or utilize opportunities on and off campus then they have the benefit of making it through the internship or job search process with something at the end of the road. A person’s first job on campus or after college doesn’t have to be the most luxurious, but can lead to a stepping stone to greater opportunities if they are able maximize on the opportunities presented to them.