What are the Best Jobs for College Students?

Thursday, Apr. 3rd 2008 6:37

Dear Digital Student,

I’m an incoming college freshman about to start school in the fall. I’m holding my own and am looking for ways to make money. What are some reasonable jobs for college students?

Sincerely,
Will work for food

BabysitterDear incoming freshman,

First of all, congratulations on your acceptances to school! There are several jobs you can look for once you get on campus. Some of the best jobs don’t require too much work, and they will make you some easy money. Here are a list of my favorites that don’t require you to venture far from campus.

Desk Attendant: Some schools allow student security guards to watch students enter and leave dorms and other campus buildings. Depending on the job description, you may have to sign guests in and out or disallow non-residents entirely. During the hours that aren’t that busy, you can even do your homework. It’s also a great way to meet new people.

Resident Assistant: This probably isn’t an option for an incoming freshman, but an RA usually gets offered free housing in return for leading a group of students residing in the same dorm (usually assigned per floor or per building). Resident assistants get pretty sweet digs and are required to hold monthly meetings with their residents. They also enforce the rules and offer a helping hand to students looking for guidance.

Babysitter: Face it, babysitting is a commodity to many working parents and it also pays a lot better per hour than on-campus jobs. Many college work programs have lists filled with parents who are looking for a mature college student to take care of their kids while they go out. And in reality, most of these kids go to bed early, giving you more time for homework.

Library Assistant: The college libraries are begging for students to help take care of book check out, audio/video systems, computer access, and the copy machines. There are a lot of positions and some good experience to be had.

Computer Lab Technician: Computer-savvy students will be happy to know that there are a variety of computer-related positions in on-campus labs and in college dormitories. Labs always need technicians during their open hours to troubleshoot problems with monitors, printers, and other peripherals. Many colleges also offer a “residential network” program, also known as ResNet, where students can get help from fellow students on computer network troubleshooting issues (wired or wireless) at any time of the day. All you need is to make an appointment.

Working alongside your professor: These individuals are also known as Teaching Assistants and get some incredible exposure on specific areas of study. You’ll often hold office hours, grade papers, and offer academic guidance on a specific course. You’ll also establish a relationship with a professor, which can open some huge doors for you. If anything, this is the job you want to put on your resume, especially if you’re headed up the graduate school route.

Internships: The other route is to take a paid internship in an area that you are interested in pursuing post-graduation. This is also a great way to build experience and pad your resume. Internships are a great option for financial aid and give you hands-on experience in a field — often well before your peers.

What jobs have you held during college?

Posted by The Digital Student in Advice, Career Planning | 34 Comments »



34 Comments on “What are the Best Jobs for College Students?”

  1. Tom Says:

    The financial aid and job consoling offices on campus will have good jobs available. Be careful not to take too many hours because it will cut into your study time. That’s why the Desk Attendant job is great (I did it.)

    Watch the internships. They pay little or NO money in relation to the responsibilities that come with the job. So know what you are getting into.

  2. Jon Says:

    If these jobs were numbered, I would place Internships at the top of the list – they might all pay as much as you like, but you can find good ones out there. The experience you gain is invaluable anyways. If you can afford to do it (or even volunteer somewhere in a related field), you should.

  3. Alex Says:

    You can always take a look at the student’s newspaper and radio. I’m the computer technician of my varsity’s student newspaper, and this is a pretty good job.

    The problem with most of the campus job: they don’t pay a lot. You can always look on the side, outside of the cheap jobs (video rental, fast food, etc.) you can find some startups needing everning workers.

  4. Jeff Says:

    My best job job in college was working at a bank. Consider the benefits:
    1- Great hours. I never had to work late and only half a day Saturday, never Sunday.
    2- The pay was much better than most college jobs. I started out $4.50 above minimum wage at the time.
    3- It helped me a lot when I went job hunting. It is considered a professional job and is shows you can work in a professional environment. It was well respected on my resume.

    Negative – I HAD TO WEAR A TIE.

  5. Co Says:

    I think it depends on what value you hold in a job. Is it to get money now or to set you up for something in the future? A teacher’s assistant or a lab assistant are great jobs to set up for graduate research gigs, med school or the private research sector. They don’t pay much more than a dollar or two an hour more than the cheap-o jobs. If you stick with them, you can often get good raises. Just beware your lab running out of funding. I worked full time with a couple other students at a lab a couple summers ago, and the next summer, they couldn’t hire anyone full time.

    If you’re looking for money to pay for school, the jobs you’ll want are probably not going to allow you much time to study. Babysitting is a great option if you’re a woman, it seems. My sister makes a lot of change doing that just once or so a week.

    On my campus, the worst paid and most readily available jobs are food service, whether ON campus or just off it. The best paying and most coveted job seemed to be law library attendant. You had to wait for someone to graduate or die to get them. They’re easy and pay really well. You usually have to reshelve, look up journal articles and cases and help people find things.

    I did food service, but if I could, I’d go back and do what I do now. I’m a nursing assistant at the university’s hospital. I make a fantastic hourly wage, I’m insured, I get vacation time and it only took a two-month community college class for me to be qualified. The bonus is that I’m getting health care experience for grad school.

  6. skeen Says:

    I also agree that hospitality jobs are best. In college, I started off as a busser at a high end restaurant and made 4-something/hour + tips. It ended up being between $18 and $20/hour. I only worked 25 hours/week but I wasn’t subsisting on Ramen noodles.

  7. Curtis Says:

    work at a grocery store, it is what i do and dang is it easy…

  8. med student Says:

    TA’ing is a really good job for multiple reasons. I TA’d chemistry for 3 years during college. I made $20/hour (15-20 hrs/ week). It gave me a good grasp of chemistry (one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it) and subsequently scored very highly on the physical sciences section of the MCAT. I also developed a great relationship with the professor which led to a couple research projects and publications with that professor. When it came time to apply to med school, I got a great letter of recommendation from that professor. TA’ing was one of the best decisions I made in undergrad.

  9. Brendan Says:

    @Tom – Internship pay varies wildly depending on field. All three of my internships (after sophomore and junior years, and between senior year and grad school) paid nearly as well as an entry-level engineer at the same company. That’s fairly typical in CompSci jobs.

    In general, be careful with all these nonsense jobs. Employers are uninterested in sitting at a desk doing homework while pretending to work, they’d rather see you take an extra class and do some useful project than do some useless, makework job. (This is especially true with campus IT techs, usually the height of incompetence.)

  10. Gabriel Says:

    School Print Center – Peddling portable drives containing student work to and fro……Printing on machines with the word jet on them….HOt!

  11. Adam Says:

    The highest paying jobs when I was in school were the kids who worked for Public Safety driving the shuttle vans around. Crappy part was that you had to work nights to do that.

    Personally, I worked in the school’s IT department for 3 years… and with the A/V services department my 4th. They didn’t pay much but it beat not having any money all the time!

    Honestly, I’d never work food service. Especially in the dorms. Not worth it IMHO.

    p.s. Internships are not all their cracked up to be. Especially since it seems, at least in my industry, they’re still not counted as “real world” experience. (In my industry, interns = getting someone to do the job for free.)

  12. corey Says:

    I have a really good job being an audio technician at school. the job allows me to be involved in many events, and i get great technical knowledge. Work in the student union, most of the time people who work there want to work with students, and they really enjoy helping you out.

  13. Dominic Connor Says:

    It’s worth looking at the end game here. One day you will be going for the job all this study has built up to. The difference between the job you want, and the next one down can be quite large, so where you can, step back and ask how this job will look on your resume.
    I headhunt people for banks (mostly quants, ie maths/physics/CS/engineer majors), and at that level they often like to see people who can explain complex ideas well, and so teaching can be useful.

  14. Daniel Says:

    I worked for the Varsity Internship Program last summer–an amazing experience! It’s not for everyone–only people who don’t mind working hard, getting great experience, building their resume, and making a good amount of money. (average first year student makes around $7,000). More info can be found at bestsummerjob.com

  15. Pete Says:

    I was employed all through college and every job I had was awesome in its own way. I recommend students get a variety of jobs through college to get experience in different fields or with different pay scales. I was a CS major, so most of my jobs involved technology, but they all gave me a different perspective, which just added to my learning experience.

    My fist job was working for the school’s auditorium. I did everything from setting up and taking down shows for big-name acts, to moving boxes and sweeping floors. The hours were based around events, so I could work as much or as little as my schedule allowed, and there were opportunities (especially for show take-downs) to work as late as 2-3 in the morning. Plus the pay was a bit better than most campus jobs.

    My next job was a year and a half working for the Office of Residential Life as a web developer. ORL had its own little IT dept made up of students overseen by a professional. It was much cheaper than a department of professionals and it provided us with an experience very similar to a real IT department. This job was REALLY handy when I went to go find a good internship.

    After my time at ORL, I took a semester off school and went to work for an investment company as a Java developer in a 7-month co-op. While taking a semester off to work can be rough on your academics, if you can handle it and you have a plan to finish school. It can be a great opportunity. In my case, they paid very well AND they paid for my apartment while I worked there, so I could save a lot of money for my last year of school.

    When I came back to school, I rounded things off working at a computer lab and as a “grader”. Lab work is great work if you like to sit around and play video games all day. It doesn’t pop out to employers as great experience, but it’s easy money and lets you concentrate on your studies. Being a grader was great, too. It is a position like a teacher’s assistantship, but without the “teaching” part. I was given a stack of Java programs written by freshmen every other week and graded them when I had time, returning them to the teacher when I was done. It paid 10 hours a week no matter how much I worked, even though I usually only worked about 3-4 hours a week. Plus I got to learn all about decrypting bad Java, which is very useful in my current job. :-)

    When it came to finding a job after school, I already had a resume packed with experience I could apply to many situations, and 2 months before I graduated, I already had offers from 3 different companies to choose from. Not to mention all that work allowed me to graduate college debt-free (which is very uncommon these days). The bottom line is that when it comes to working in college, I recommend it. Find a job with your future in mind, not just the one that pays the best. Ask around in your major, find out where the “smart students” work. Often you’ll find there are some great jobs available you never even knew existed.

  16. Kristin Says:

    The best college job I had was being an usher. It was nice because I was working on campus and after the first hour of helping people find their seats I was able to sit outside the auditorium and do homework for two to three hours during the concerts.

  17. cj Says:

    I had a few IT related Jobs in College. I did Tech Support for the School of Education, and then was offered a better paying position at the Journalism school as the Sr. Student IT Manager. I made about $13 an hour and taxes were almost nothing since it was a student job at a Public University, which is a nice paycheck for an on campus job! As time went on I was given more and more responsibilities, and it really started effecting my studies. I started working too much and missing some classes because I had to help some professor I had or helping the dean of the school. Finally I quit after it encroached too much on my studies and got a great job on campus interning for Apple.

    Bottom line; You’re at school to succeed and do well in your courses. If you need to pick up a job to pay for expenses at School, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Looking back at my experience I would have saved myself alot of stress if I had chosen a job that had a smaller paycheck and less responsibility.

  18. MES Says:

    I am a resident assistant and recommend the job to all college students I meet. I get free housing and it looks great on resumes later down the road because it gives you leadership experience.

    I also tutor athletes on the side. Aside from getting autographs, this job pays very well and is extremely flexible in terms of schedule and hours because I set up sessions directly with my students at times that are convenient for me.

  19. Anna Says:

    The highest paying jobs were my accounting internships where I’d make anywhere from 15 per hour to $25 per hour my junior and senior years. If you can find an internship in the field you’re interested in that also pays well, your resume and your wallet will both benefit.

    Also, a lot of my friends were servers in nice restaurants and made some very good money. Or the TA thing is also great.

    When you are looking for a job, definitely keep your long-term goals in mind and pick something that you can be proud of on your resume.

  20. Matt Says:

    That Vector Marketing one is definetely a hoax, that’s just someone from that company trying to trick more college students into joining their scam. Vector marketing is a MLM scheme in which you sell low quality knives to friends and family, there’s no way you can make $40,000 in a fall.

  21. Jennifer Wills Says:

    I work with a sales and management internship program in the summers. I am using Varsity earn the money I need for grad school. It’s long, hard work but the training is unequaled and the opportunity to earn a lot of money is there for a highly-motivated, disciplined student with an extra dose of courage and judgment. Varsity provides Professional Training to develop these practical skills:
    a. Prospecting/Canvassing – Our students are taught how to map out their assigned communities, going house-to-house on a referral basis, tying the community together through the use of Pre-Approach information.
    b. Approaching – How to make a good first impression and gain an audience.
    c. Establishing Rapport – How to help the prospect trust and like you.
    d. Defining of the Need – How to ask appropriate questions to get needs/wants identified and agreed to.
    e. Demonstrating – How to present features/benefits of the products that can fulfill the prospects needs.
    f. Closing –How to understand the emotions of the buying decision and bring the prospect to a point of decision.
    g. Managing Time– How to use crystallized goal periods.
    h. Bookkeeping – How to run a business, including keeping expense reports, managing cash flow, and maintaining inventory.
    i. Goal Setting – How to set, crystallize, and achieve realistic goals.
    j. Team Building – How to screen, interview, recruit, train, manage, and motivate a team.
    k. Organization Building – How to train several teams to work together to accomplish the organizational mission and goals.
    If you know someone who fits the bill, send them to our website. They can request an interview.

  22. Evan Johnson Says:

    I started interning at a commercial real estate brokerage during the school year. Following the internship, I stayed as an assistant, receiving a percentage of our commission. Now that it is summer, I am getting my real estate license so I can work in property management and leasing for the rest of the summer while continuing part time during the school year.

    You really don’t have to settle for low paying, retail type jobs, or jobs on campus that provide no real experience for your future career. If you can find a paid internship that is your best bet, they just seem to have gone extinct during this recession.

    If you know what area you want to develop a career in, try to find a position in that industry just to get a foot in the door. This is very valuable, and even if you don’t like a particular industry after experiencing it, you are sure to have developed valuable networking contacts who will be able to help you find positions in other areas. This is VITAL as you will not have to compete with other job applicants like you would if you applied using the typical ‘front-door approach’

  23. Emilie M Says:

    @Matt– Very True.

    Vector is definitely a hoax, I tried it for a couple of weeks and it ended badly. I do not recommend.
    The only people who seemed to be making any money were the secretaries and the guy who was the “manager”.

  24. Andrew Says:

    @Matt and Emilie M: I agree.

    Vector Marketing is a complete hoax! I tried for it this July and it was horrible…They want you to leech off of your friends and family to buy expensive knives and don’t pay you what they say you will earn. Scumbags.

  25. kayla Says:

    my boyfriend applied for vector as a joke and put “smoking weed” as a hobby and guess what they called they next day for an interview. i applied and got an interview the same time. we went to make fun of it. i wore cowboy boots and he wore jeans an a tshirt.. we both got hired and never went back.

  26. Brett Says:

    My buddy and I worked for Vector for 8 months. Almost every sales company will hire just about anyone (they have nothing to lose). It’s up to the employees to make money (i.e. commission) so of course people who don’t sell will have a bad taste in their mouth. I sold alright for about 7 months (because they are good knives) and made enough to pay for school for two semesters (so did my friend) and they never took a penny out of my pocket. But after that I was not selling, so I stopped. But I don’t diss Vector for my failure. Vector is a great, honest company (much better than other sales companies out there) but the job is not for every person they hire. I only recommend it to those who can do sales.

  27. Lin Says:

    I work in the college library and love it. It’s the highest paying on campus job, very easy, and I can wear whatever I like!

  28. Steven Says:

    I’m a student and I’ve been looking for on campus jobs for quite some time and have had difficulty finding ones that paid more than minimum wage. I’ve also had difficulty finding internships, though I was until recently a marketing major (now SCM) and that’s (in my opinion) not a very concrete major.

    I worked in a restaurant (Pappadeaux) for about half a year. It paid pretty good money but I ended up stressed often and working Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights until close often getting out after midnight. If you’re fine with that a restaurant job isn’t difficult to get so long as you appear willing to learn and adapt to the restaurant environment.

  29. Susan Says:

    I also worked for Vector Marketing but do not think they are a hoax or scam. I was able to pay my way through college, with my sales job at Vector Marketing. I love it that I was able to make my own schedule and the money I made for the number of hours I worked was great. The job also helped me gain confidence in a business atmosphere and I improved my leadership and communication skills. Potential applicants should ignore or at least have an open mind when they read Vector Marketing scam information because not all of this information is true. Finding a job is very hard nowadays, and I don’t think students should be so closed-minded when it comes to the job search just because some people did not personally have a good experience.

  30. Nicola Says:

    I worked on the newsletter while I was at University. I mainly got the job as the result of my tutor. He wrote the first one, swore that he was never going to do it again as long as he lived, then pushed the job off on me. It didn’t pay much but it gave me some pretty good experience. For a start, that tutor gave me a glowing reference when I went for work experience placements at our local paper. In turn, they gave me a glowing reference which really helped out with my graduate jobs hunt.

    To be honest, any experience of the working world is going to be good. But if you can keep it related to the industry you’re intersted in, so much the better.

  31. Rosalva Says:

    Front desk Receptionist at a hotel is honestly the best job u can get if your looking to work and still have time to study!! There are many slow days around here. You get eight hr shifts and all you gotta do most of the time is check ppl in and out! not a hard job at all! that way u have access to a computer to to test online and homework!!

  32. Vince B Says:

    spelling corrections: flexibility, competitive, environment

  33. Best Jobs for College Students? | Lifehacker Australia Says:

    [...] do feel are ideal for college students? Share your past positions or best tips in the comments. The Best Jobs for College Students [...]

  34. monnie r Says:

    These are some great tips for college students looking to work while they attend school.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    Monnie :)>

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