Two weeks ago I was just an ordinary college student: trying to keep up with school work while managing to keep a moderately vibrant social life and still look sexy. Then, one night, I got bombarded with radioactive waste and I woke up… a superhero! Okay not really. One night I went to bed a college student and the next day I woke up as a college student with a job. Why am I comparing having a job as a college student to being a superhero? Think about how Superman has to single-handedly save the world while staying on top of work at the Daily Planet and dating Lois Lane. Having a job while studying is sort of similar to Superman’s life–it can be hectic sometimes–but it also has so many benefits:
- Financial benefits: Of course, the number one benefit of having a job is that it provides you with a source of income, which you could use to pay part of your college tuition, or for your personal expenses.
- Work experience: the amount of time you work adds up towards your work experience, which could prove as a bonus when you apply to other jobs after college.
- Flexible hours: one of the benefits of working on campus as opposed to working off campus is that the jobs offered on campus are part-time and are accommodating of the number of hours you are willing to work because they understand that your main purpose on campus is to study.
- Develop work ethic: many students acquire their first job while in college. Having a job that early helps you cultivate a good work ethic, handle responsibility and cooperate with other people in the workplace.
I personally applied to a job because I had never worked for pay before and I wanted that experience. I also wanted to be more independent and not have to rely on parents for my personal expenses, because I know it can sometimes be challenging for parents of international students to mobilize funds for their children especially if the exchange rate between their country and the U.S. is very high. Having a job has not only helped me gain working experience but also helped me become accustomed to the norms of working in the U.S. Getting a job, though, was admittedly not as easy as I had anticipated: it actually took me nearly a year till I got a job offer. But now that I have been through the experience of job hunting I can offer some useful tips on how to get a job on campus:
- Build a resume (CV): this is the most important step in getting any job because it is the first thing employers look at. It is okay if you do not have any work experience yet, there are lots of other qualities you can fill your resume (CV) with, such as extracurricular activities and skills. The main idea is to give the employer a sense of what you could accomplish if you are to be hired. There are several online resources you could use to polish your resume. Just a couple:
The great thing about DU is that there is professional help readily available on campus through the DU Career Services https://www.du.edu/career/. This is a good resource to use not just for building a CV but for receiving career advice and total professional development.
- Do a job search: the DU job page is the most accessible way to view jobs available both on and off campus. https://www.du.edu/admission-aid/financial-aid-scholarships/student-employment
- Start preparing for an interview: this is the second most important step to consider in getting a job. Interviews and resumes (CVs) are usually the two deciding criteria employers use in their hiring process, but a good presentation during an interview can compensate for a weak resume (CV). Again, DU Career Services is here to help you with all your professional development needs including preparing to ace that interview. You can make an appointment on their website, https://www.du.edu/career/.
You can also find some tips on how to make a good first impression during an interview here:
- Research the position: know the exact details on any position you apply to before the interview. Being knowledgeable on the position will help you answer that question employers undoubtedly ask during interviews: “What would you do for the company/ organization if employed?” Get to know your potential employers, superiors or even the previous holders of that position and reach out to them if possible in order to make an impression on them and gain useful insight into the nature of their workplace.
- Stay humble: life is about learning. Remember to stay humble and respectful towards your superiors and your colleagues. Be sure to thank them after the interview. You could even send them a letter or an email expressing your appreciation. Be open to learning from them, especially when you are hired.
The truth is having a job while in college is not going to be easy but I can honestly say everything gets better with experience. My advice is to talk to your employer so you can start working a few hours a week and add on hours once you get used to the new lifestyle. Employers are also very understanding if you need to lighten your schedule close to the exams period. Hopefully, these tips will not only help you in finding a job but will help you balance it all, just like Superman.
Editors: Anh Pham & Grace Sullivan