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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, partially due to being taught good money management skills in high school.  My parents saved up on my behalf.  Also, I had scholarships, which funded my college education.

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?