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  How to Find a Job (during College)

How to Find a Job (during College)

You're in college now. You may need to find a job to pay for food and rent and all those nitpicky lifestyle necessities that you never knew existed as expenses. Or, you may simply want some extra cash to go shopping. Or you may need a serious job to pay your way through school. Regardless of your reason, you are ready to find a job in the midst of a new life and new education. It is important to understand why and how you will work before you begin your job search.

Typical college jobs include:

  • Restaurant/fast food work (host, wait staff, bus boy/girl)
  • Cashier work (grocery, convenient stores)
  • Bag boy/girl (grocery stores)
  • Movie theater staff
  • Ushers in theaters
  • Retails stores — sales clerks (clothing stores)
  • Babysitting
  • Lawn mower
  • Camp Counselors (summer)
  • Work Study positions
  • Teaching Assistant (TA) work
  • Office/Secretarial positions

While you are older and have a high school degree, you are still not that marketable. Most jobs require a college diploma, so you may be stuck doing similar work that you did in high school. The enormous difference between college jobs and high school jobs is your time. In college, you will find countless more hours of free time that can be devoted to working. You will be able to work twenty to thirty hours a week, if possible. You can manage your own schedule, decide what days you want to take classes, and decide when you want to work. There is no forty hour classroom you must attend, like in high school. There will be about fifteen to eighteen hours of classes you must attend.

Your first year in college may be more difficult to find a good job, as you do not have a great variety of classes to choose from. Generally, your schedule is fairly set in stone and you will not be able to change it easily to ease into a good job. Another reason it will be difficult to get a good job your first year in college is that you do not want to start this new life with poor grades. Many people flunk out of college their first semesters because they are not used to the change in lifestyle. Consequently, it will be important to focus on your studies and adjust to the new type of academia before you settle into a new job.

Some of these jobs seem easier than others. Some are easier to "get" and even others more desirable. Most of your work in college will give you minimum wage, although some places might give you more. Minimum wage as of January 1, 2004 is ranges from $8.50 to $2.65 (with $5.15 the most common) depending on your state of residence.

Once you decide that you want to find a job in high school, you should follow the following steps:

  1. Go around to several stores you like and ask if they are hiring. If so, they will give you an application. Fill out all applications and return them. Make sure you write legibly (type, if possible).
  2. Every time you go to the store/restaurant, dress appropriately. No jeans.
  3. Request an interview in person or over the phone. Ask politely, of course.
  4. In an interview, be honest. They all know you are high school students and will have very little job experience. They just want to know you will be punctual and loyal.

If you want to work "on your own," then follow these steps. The jobs in this category consist of Babysitting, Lawn Mowing, etc.:

  1. Make a printed flier with your name, address, email, phone number
  2. Visit the appropriate local areas
  3. Ask if you can post a flier
  4. Post your flier in schools, parents' workplaces, list serves, and church/synagogue newsletters, local beach clubs

With these jobs, you will need to make personal contact and build a client base. While it may be difficult at first, you can make substantially more money than working as a checkout clerk at a restaurant or store.

When applying for jobs, here are some final tips and reminders:

  • Dress appropriately
  • Speak correctly and politely (little slang, no profanity)
  • Print your applications legibly
  • Ask friends/teachers if they can be your references
  • Be honest about your experience, availability, and age
  • Call to follow-up on your application

The beauty of work in college is that colleges help you out more than you will expect. An entire government plan is set up to help college students find jobs. It is called the work-study program. These jobs are set up through your college or university. The beauty behind work-study jobs is that you pay almost no government taxes. So, while you may make a small salary, you are keeping it all. And, the types of jobs you will get through work-study will enable you to continue to study while at work. These types of jobs include the following:

  • Library worker
  • Dorm convenience store worker
  • Cafeteria worker
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Admissions Officer
  • Tour Guide

These types of jobs differ from school to school, but are plentiful. In college, try to find a work-study job part time to help in your finances. It will be a great step in the job market. Later in college when you want to branch out into more of a "career-stepping job," then you will already have much experience in the working world.