Why You Should Always Have A Job While In College

Looking back, I had a variety of jobs in college, and I’m glad for every single one of them.  Here are a list of the jobs that I held at one point or another during my four years of college:

  • Tour Guide – Gave tours to potential incoming students.  Lots of fun and I always liked seeing familiar faces the following year.
  • Phone-A-Thon Rep – This only lasted a week or two, but we got to call alumni and bug them for money.
  • Computer ‘Lab Rat’ – Sat in one of the three computer labs that the college had, answered questions, did troubleshooting on basic problems, and acted as a deterrent to people overusing the printer.
  • Resident Assistant – My senior year, I was an RA on a freshman hall.  Man, did I feel old!
  • Paid Internships – I was in a program which required us to do two internships, one instead of taking classes for a semester (we made them up with a summer session) and another the following summer.  Both were paid.
  • Working back at home – My aunt and uncle owned a collectibles store, and if I was home for the holidays or for the summers where I wasn’t involved with internship activities, I’d work there.

I was lucky enough to not have student debt during college.  My parents saved up on my behalf and I had scholarships, which funded my college experience.

Still, I would not have traded the job experiences I had for anything.  Here’s why you should always have a job while you’re a college student;

  • It gets you used to having a job – Let’s face it, the goal for most people in college is to graduate college and get a job.  The transition to the full-time grind will be much easier if you ease into it.
  • You’ll meet people – I met so many different people at the various jobs.  Some became friends that lasted throughout college and some even beyond.
  • You get money – As I said above, I was lucky enough to have my college funded, but regardless if you need the money to pay tuition (or rack up less student debt), or have spending money (or saving money), you’ll be thankful for every dollar you get.
  • You’ll learn skills – Most of the jobs I had above advanced my direct or indirect skills.  My tour guide experience got me more comfortable with talking to strangers and also being somewhat of a salesperson.  As a ‘lab rat’, I kept up with technology and learned the everyday problems that ‘users’ face.  This directly helped me as I forged a path in IT after graduation.
  • It keeps you out of trouble – Let’s face it, there’s a lot of temptation to get into trouble and a lot of that comes from having too much available time.  Take some of that time away and you’ll be less tempted to get excessively carried away.  I still had my share of fun, but having a number of hours taken up by various jobs, gave me a nice balance so that my times of being an idiot were likely drastically reduced.

So, if you’re in college or going to college, the question shouldn’t be “Do I need to work?” it should be “What job should I be looking at?”

What’s your experience with working while in college?

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36 thoughts on “Why You Should Always Have A Job While In College

  1. I definitely think people should work during college. I worked full-time as a manager all throughout college, and when I applied for jobs, I definitely came out ahead of everyone else since I seemed reliable and able to multi-task.

    • Very true, the work experience shows your responsibility down the line to prospective employers.

  2. Like Michelle, for my first bunch of years in college I worked full time in retail management. Now, at the tail end of my education, I’m doing paid internships hoping that they’ll turn into real opportunities. My fingers are crossed!

    • Best of luck, post some stuff on your blog about how it all goes and I’ll be there to read!

  3. I held a variety of service jobs from fast food to telemarketing but the greatest thing I could’ve done for my future was take a co-op program. I would work full-time for a semester at a time for various companies doing entry-level work, as part of my undergraduate program requirements.

    This put my employability through the roof when I graduated as I actually had experience in the field (and usually in the job) I was interviewing for. The extra cash from getting paid well above minimum wage wasn’t bad either!

    • Plus you make contacts at those jobs who can either bring you in full time or have contacts at other potential employers.

  4. I didn’t work my freshman year but I worked every year after that. Although it sucked to have a job while my friends were hanging out and doing nothing, it was nice to get that paycheck. I worked mainly to pay for my sorority and having fun (like going on spring break) and looking back, I probably did it for many of the reasons you listed as well. To finance all of that, I worked in a daycare center, as a summer camp counselor and at a video store as an undergrad and in grad school, I was a research assistant. Not too creative but they served me well.

    • Good stuff. Yeah, it did kind of suck when I had to work when others were planning fun things, but I learned to plan around that *lol*

  5. I’ve always had a job since the 3rd grade or so. Mowing lawns, bagging groceries, construction, picking tomatoes, blood gas lab, selling clothes,…gosh I even counted worms in a bait factory one summer, it was fun for a 9 year old-the owners were our neighbors, we got a buck a day, and soda and crackers for a snack.

    Work ethic has to come from work. You learn so much about dealing with people in that environment.

  6. Since most of my college attendance was part-time there was never a reason for me to not have a job. Actually, I had to have a job to pay my bills. I was a bit envious of those who went full-time and didn’t work but my situation worked out ok for me.

  7. I worked while I was in university and I am glad that I did. Working and going to school teaches you the ability to multi-task far better than anything else can. And the idea of paying you own way through school allows you to appreciate the education that you are getting as well.

    • Very true, having to balance multiple things at once is a good learning skill that can’t be taught in the classroom.

  8. During my time at college i managed to work weekends in a bar which helped greatly when it came to pay my yearly fee’s, not to mention buying my own treats!

    Michael

  9. It’s important to work even in high school, in my opinion, as it (hopefully) teaches you how to be responsible with real (as opposed to allowance) money from a younger age. It also teaches personal responsibility, which a LOT of young kids need as early as possible. I worked in high school so I could buy a car, plus the fact that I could get out of school early under the terms of my work study program was a great incentive.

    When I got to college, I didn’t want to work, but in order to pay for stuff I wanted to do, I had no choice. I was one of the few freshman in my dorm with a car (a benefit of buying my own POS unlike the kids whose parents gave them one and yanked it back when the went off to school). In order to pay for gas and other things, I worked for the Dean of the business department. It wasn’t much money, but I knew that I wouldn’t have to call home every couple of weeks begging for more money to be put into my account. Plus, I charged others to use the car for trips and stuff and made them pay for their own gas so that was a little extra for me too!

    • True, and like others have pointed out, getting good grades while working is a challenge that will pay off down the road as it teaches you better work ethic and multi-tasking skills!

  10. Agree! Try tutoring. There are usually tutoring businesses near campus you can sign up with. You will reinforce what you know by explaining it and make some nice money at the same time.

    Also, look into work-study/co-op programs at the college. If you sign up, they find paid internships for you (that are difficult to get otherwise) in your area of study. You work full-time during the internship semester and go to class the other semesters. Signing up for this for your junior and senior year of college can get you that highly-coveted experience that is so valued by future employers. Usually you get one credit for it if you write a report, but the main benefit is the experience you can put on your CV. Most of these kind of internships pay pretty well, enough to cover living expenses and more. That is not always true for internships found outside of this program.

    • Great advice and I’m not going to lie, I never thought of adding tutoring but it could be a great hustle!

  11. It is very important to work while in high school and in college. It really teaches you a ton, I have a niece who has not worked in high school and does not plan on working during college so she can finish faster. I can’t imagine the “shock” she will be in when she gets her first job.

  12. Good advice. Working at multiple jobs not only gives you extra cash it also gives you the opportunity to find out what you really want to do after college. You may find your perfect job or what you want to be sure and stay away from.

  13. I worked in HS and college. I worked retail which taught me about how much crap the clerks deal with! During junior year of college, all of my roommates worked in restaurants/catering, so every night we would bring home extras and have a (not very nutritious) feast! Also on-campus coffee shops (free coffee) and libraries (paid study time!) are great.

    • Yeah, even when I worked in the computer lab, there was a lot of down time, and by the time I was a senior, I got to pick a lot of shifts and labs that I knew wouldn’t be as crazy 🙂

  14. I worked all through school. One other pro is that it tells employers you are a hard worker. My job experience helped me land my first real job out of school. After being on the other side of the interview table, I know it is a good thing to have worked through college.

    I also got make dumb mistakes and learn from them..like one time in high school, I was talking to coworkers about my raise amount. I had no idea this was supposed to be kept private but it was a good learning experience for me.

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