Before I came to college, I knew that I was going to have to eventually get a job. While I was in high school, I had a job during my junior and senior year. I liked making money and working, but an immediate effect was that my grades suffered a little bit. I saw this and knew that something had to change if I wanted to work while in college. When you first arrive at college you figure out quickly that it is nothing like what you are used to. You are living away from home, your class schedule is not as uniform as it was before, and the learning environment is immensely different. Because of that I recommend getting adjusted to your class schedule and your workload before you begin working at a job. While that may not be possible for everyone, it is still very important to understand how much is needed of you for school so you will be able to effectively manage your school, social, and work life. Once you understand your capacity and how much of your schedule can be allotted to work, that is the perfect time to start looking for a job.
Once you feel you are ready to get a job or know you want one, the biggest question to answer is on campus or off campus? On-campus jobs refer to jobs within the university such as desk assistants or dining employees. Off-campus jobs refer to any business outside of your school’s campus where you can be employed. I attend college in a city, so there can technically be off-campus jobs that are still inside of my school’s campus limits. There are pluses and minuses that come with both, which I will discuss below.
The majority of on-campus jobs advertise their flexibility in scheduling. Since these jobs are within the university, managers and schedulers understand that you are in school and have other obligations that come before work. On-campus jobs can have shifts as short as two hours, which can give you the opportunity to make some money that day but also stay on top of your schoolwork. Another plus is the location. If you already live on campus, having a job within a close walking vicinity makes it easy to get to work. Lastly, some on campus jobs allow you to do your schoolwork while on the job. This policy varies by position, but in most cases if you are unoccupied at the moment you will be allowed to do homework or other school-related tasks. One downside to o- campus jobs is that the pay is typically lower than off-campus jobs. As student workers, the many pluses that come with these jobs have this trade off. Wages are almost always a non negotiable flat rate for your time in that position.
Off-campus jobs are just your typical run-of-the-mill retail, food industry, or business jobs. You do not necessarily have to work in one of those industries, but they are common for college students. Off-campus jobs can get a little tricky. These businesses are not in the world of academia so your status as a student may cause problems for you. For example, an employer may want you to work more hours than you can actually commit to. As a student, it is recommended to work fewer than 20 hours a week. Off-campus jobs might see this conflict in your schedule and choose not to hire you because they need someone who can work more than that. Another thing to keep in mind with off-campus jobs is the commute. Many universities do not allow freshmen to have a car if they live on campus. If you go to school in a place with a good transportation system, this may not be a problem for you, but that’s not the case for everyone. If your job isn’t within walking distance, you have to weigh in your commute time and make adjustments to your schedule accordingly. From my experience, a plus is that the pay is almost always higher than on-campus jobs. You are going to have to weigh the options to see which will be worth it in the end.
In my own experience, I applied to off-campus and on-campus jobs. I received more off-campus interviews, but I was denied by everyone because my availability was too slim for them. Of the three on-campus jobs I applied to, I was interviewed for one and eventually hired. To this day I am so glad that I chose that job and didn’t keep on looking for one that would have paid me more. The benefits to having my on-campus job are plentiful. The work environment is great because I work with other students and I have a caring boss who understands that we are still students. I often have free time at my job which allows me to do my homework and I typically don’t work more than 16 hours a week. Overall, it has been a great experience and has not made my grades suffer in any way.
In the end, what it all comes down to your personal preferences. For me, I choose convenience, but other situations may have different factors that lead you to choose otherwise. What I feel is the most important of all is that you get a job that fits you and what you can handle. College is a totally different ballpark that requires more caution and observance to what you are doing and the things around you. Everyone wants to stay on top of their grades and one of the easiest ways to fall behind is working long hours. If and when you start your job search, I hope that you keep everything I have said in mind, and I hope that you are able to find something that fits your needs.