I had just finished grading a massive stack of papers my boss had asked me to have done by Friday. It was 3:20 pm, which meant I could start packing up so I could run out the door at 3:30 to be at my next class. I felt good, because I was almost done with all of my work for the week, the weather had warmed up outside, and I had been extraordinarily productive.
Then there was a knock at the door, and a student walked in.
“Hi, I was wondering if someone could look at some essays?”
I winced, and told him I left at 3:30, to get to a class. This was my shutdown time, and he had walked right into it. He realized that it was the end of the day, and nobody else was coming in and seemed a tad distraught. I stood there, torn. He had four short essays in his hands, and just wanted grammar looked at. I looked at my phone. 3:22. I could handle grammar. Plus, I had some leeway. 3:30 was the leaving time so I could make sure I would be early. I told him I would grade his essays.
Situations like this were probably what my mom meant when she warned me about a job eating up my time, but there are lots of types of jobs in the world. The ones available to you in college are a special type. Many colleges allow students to work on campus as part of their financial aid package, and even beyond that, there are often a lot of jobs available for any student. They just aren’t always heavily advertised. In my school, jobs that departments feel their students would be suitable for send out emails to their students. My school also has a website that advertises student work and lots of people have jobs this way. But what is it like?
The best part of a college-related job is that they can be lightweight jobs. You have tasks to complete but they usually aren’t terribly time consuming, and the job itself usually keeps you off your feet. Usually, you’re sitting at a desk to man the phones, or run the occasional errand for the person you work under. In my case, I grade papers for a writing center, which requires me to put in hours at a specific place, in case students need help and come in. I’m free to grade papers (when there are some to grade) during this time, or do my homework. There isn’t usually a high turnaround for when I grade the papers, and I share the workload with three other girls. It’s a pretty nice job.
What kind of jobs can you get from your school? Well there are a couple types:
Standard With a Dash of Helpful
There are many desks to be manned at A&M, and many of them are manned by the students of A&M. From my observations and occasional speaking to (the nice people who give me the keys to my workplace every day for example), there’s a lot of sitting, making copies, and answering the phone. These jobs are solid, but you are at the beck and call of the rushes that occur from time to time. Students all have the same question, the phone rings frequently in the same hour, and so on.
However, you get to work on campus, which means they take your class schedule into account with more love, and the people there are rooting for your success. Do your homework! At my school, if you fill out the paperwork (always with the paperwork), you are able to sign up for classes early. Nice perk, yah? Food for thought though: try not to watch things with a tag “NSFW” or anything that comes close to it. I once walked up to the office I get my keys from and could see the screen of a computer a student worker was at through the glass door, before he even saw me coming. You may think you’re fast with the switching tabs from all those years living in the same house as your parents who thought your room was theirs since they “owned it,” but glass doors are not your friend. Neither is browser history.
Gotta Love Those Freshmen
Ah, the Resident Advisor life, or RA. Many of my good friends are RAs, and while they’re all bubbly and love meeting new people, they warn this job is not for the faint of heart. Your door is always open, and have fun resolving roommate squabbles. But conflict management is a great skill, and if you are eager to help incoming freshmen understand how to survive college, this job may be for you. Plus, I hear they get like, free room and board. Or something crazy like that. But really.
The Quirky Life
These jobs are just…different. I’m not saying they’re weird, but they may include duties slightly different than your standard job. For example, an old roommate and friend, Meghan, works in my school library’s “map room” and she has jobs that include scanning maps into the computer and filing them away, along with making this globe light up:
These jobs can fall under the standard of working at a desk, but in cool and different places than the usual office. They’re particularly helpful if you want to develop a skill that this job requires, but still need the student worker love.
Not a Professor
Oh. Being a teacher’s assistant, or the commonly known TA. My job classification falls under this, but it easily varies from professor to professor. Some TAs are required to appear in class, and usually have to hand out tests and run labs. These jobs are often held by grad students, but obviously, undergrad positions are available, considering I exist. Do expect having to grade papers. This may include tearing your hair out. Or not.
Jobs are available on campus, and while they are jobs, they give you money, have flexible hours, and come with various perks. The people are more understanding (usually) and as time consuming as they can be, the downtime can be promising. Before you go running to your area’s local fast food restaurant for work, see if your school offers student work, and see what you can scrounge up. Time management skills will probably blossom. Good luck!