The first week of school, you were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and you wondered what to make of this new thing called college. The second week of school, you figured you should try to arrange work study so you could pay for this new and exciting experience. By the third week, you wondered why no one has called you back for an interview, even though you submitted five thousand applications. By the fourth, you seriously wondered how you were going to pay next month’s tuition. Whether you’ve been in this situation or you just want a work study job when none seem to exist, you’ve come to the right place. The following are the work study tips you didn’t know you needed.
1. Prep ahead of time.
Maybe there’s a job reserved for you. Maybe the work-study program is as competitive as the real-world job market. The application could consist of your name, year, and availability, or your resume, a cover letter, and an in-person interview. Before you become a part of the system, you have to know how it operates. If there’s a program during orientation that teaches you how the work-study program works at your school, definitely attend. Ask upperclassmen tips for finding jobs on campus, how easy the experience was for them, if they like where they ended up, etc. Upperclassmen are one of your most important resources, as they know all of your school’s specific quirks.
2. Use your school’s resources.
Some schools have online portals where you can see both on-campus and off-campus job listings. Most schools have career development offices that exist for helping you navigate the professional world. Ask the administration for tips on finding a job and if there’s anything you could be doing to stand out. It can be intimidating to approach administrators during your first year, but you have to remember that they’re there to help you and want to see you succeed. Oftentimes, the key to success is reaching out for help when you need it.
3. Be aware of deadlines.
Some schools have a priority timeline for work study students. After this time passes, the hunt for jobs becomes much fiercer. If you don’t have a job by this date, don’t be dismayed. Even if things don’t seem to be working out, you’re learning valuable dos and don’ts that will make the process smoother next year.
4. Put yourself out there.
Email academic departments you’re interested in and ask if they need any assistants. Sign up for the professional societies on campus (even if you’re not a member) and watch out for job and internship opportunities. Tell your friends that you’re looking for a job and ask them if they have any tips. You never know if you’re talking to somebody who knows somebody, as the saying goes.
5. Know what’s available to you.
Before you approach anyone for help, you should know all the relevant details of your situation, including what kind of work study you have and your award amount. Being a work study student might have perks that you didn’t know existed. For example, at my school, work study students can work certain off-campus jobs while someone who works a campus job is restricted to on-campus work.
6. Always have a backup plan.
Hopefully you get the first job you apply for. If not, keep applying! It can be hard to keep moving when something as important as work-study doesn’t seem to be working out, but you have to keep at it. If work study absolutely doesn’t work out, think about an off-campus job. There are fewer perks that come it working off campus, but you’ll have a source of income at the very least.
Obtaining a work study job can be surprisingly easy or surprisingly challenging, depending on where you go to school. If you’re blindsided by how challenging it is to find a job, don’t despair! Keep looking and keep applying, and eventually you’ll hit gold.