Balancing a part-time job with academics in college is tricky and can be very stressful, but it is surprisingly common, even among those who are financially supported by their parents.
Those of us who do not qualify for work-study programs often still seek to contribute to the costs of our education, or to at least make a little money on the side. Finding any kind of a job is rarely simple, though, and finding a part-time job flexible enough to fit in around classes and meetings can be quite the headache.
However, it is possible to find employers who will be sensitive to the needs of the average college students, both on and off campus.
It is often possible to find work through your university even if you do not qualify for a work-study program. These positions vary from school to school, but certain ones will likely be mostly occupied by students, and these are the ones most likely to be flexible around your academic schedule.
Your college should have a career center or online employment portal you can use as resources for locating jobs for which you might qualify. Many universities will have jobs in dining, library services, and youth athletics open to students, and some if not all of these should have non-work-study as well as work-study positions available.
If you are looking for a more skills-based position with the potential for higher pay and resume building, you could also look into your university’s med school or emergency services for work as a scribe or EMT, or into its research programs for work as lab tech or even a paid researcher (oftentimes payment comes through grants you may have to write yourself in addition to finding your way into a lab).
Depending on your skills, you might find a university job for programmers or other technical roles. Again, your career center and online resources specific to your university will be your best aids in finding jobs that compensate you according to your qualifications.
Many of the institutions in the close vicinity of your campus will be interested in and likely already are employing students. Again, these jobs will range in skill requirements.
It should be relatively easy to get a food services job at a popular restaurant or bar off campus. Many local retailers will also employ college students with little to no prior work experience. Since many of the employees already working these jobs will most likely be students, these employers will most likely be accommodating in terms of shifts that fit around your academics, and if the one you solicit is not, you should have plenty of other options that will be more flexible.
While there will likely be a number of companies requiring more technical experience in your college town, these are less likely to be accommodating of your other obligations than skilled positions affiliated with your university. They will also be more competitive to get since graduates will be able to work full-time and probably be better qualified. However, they are not impossible to get, and are often easiest to find work with through summer or semester internship programs aimed at current undergraduates.
Whether you find work on- or off-campus, make sure to prioritize your studies. It might be nice to have cash on hand, but your education builds the foundation of your career. You don’t want a job you completely qualify for as an undergrad to become your career, or you won’t have made much of a return of the investments you’ve made into your education. That being said, if you can comfortably balance the demands of both school and work, it can be a very rewarding experience, not just financially but in building life skills as well.