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Working Part Time in College: Scoring the Right Job for Your Schedule

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Part-time jobs are key for cash-strapped college students.

Part-time jobs are key for cash-strapped college students.

If there is one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that college isn't cheap. Because expenses can rack up, working part time may be necessary while you're in school. The question, then, is can you find a job you care about that will squeeze into the limited amount of free time you have each week?

While it may seem overwhelming at first, a part-time job may provide an awesome opportunity to develop in your field, become financially independent, and meet some amazing people. It certainly did for me.

There are many different outlets for students to work while they are in school. Most campuses offer a certain amount of work-study funding for students who get jobs on campus — a great option for students whose schedules are already tight.

If you don't receive work-study, not to worry. Companies from a number of different fields now hire independent contractors to work from home, and the jobs often fit right into the hectic collegate schedule. Websites like craigslist and snagajob advertise part-time jobs, many of which are online positions that can be done right from your dorm room. Alongside convenience, these jobs pay well and allow students who are still in school to develop skills like writing, database management and online communication.

In my last five years of college (undergraduate and graduate), I have done all of the above trying to find the right work for my schedule. As an undergraduate, I worked at the career services office, which allowed me to budget my hours between class, work, and study time, and gave me a stable and predictable schedule on a 9-to-5 cycle (something that can be lifesaving for a hectic college student). While this system worked well for me in undergrad, I did not receive any funding at all in graduate school. I needed to find work that fit my schedule, but that was also rewarding both personally and academically.

So here is how working part time in graduate school happened for me: Through a part-time listing on craigslist, I found a data entry job for a green energy company that not only paid well, but also helped me build connections in my field and learn practical skills beyond what I was taught in the classroom. My studies relating to environmental policy were made concrete by my part-time job, and I was able to use class projects to investigate issues my company was concerned about.

Working part time in college can be rewarding only so long as it does not detract from your academic studies. Thankfully, the Internet has allowed more and more students to work remotely on their own schedules. Finding a work/life balance can be difficult in college, but finding the right job for your schedule could be the difference between feeling overwhelmed or feeling fulfilled.

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