Finding the job
You're getting financial aid award letters and planning out your college workload. You know you'll need to work. But what do you need to be looking for?
A perfect college job is one that has flexible hours (trust me, you’ll want those when your class schedule no longer runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), gives you enough shifts to pay for your books and your Starbucks addiction, and boosts your resume. It's also one that you preferably enjoy. (You win the lottery if you get one that allows you to do homework on your downtime.) Granted, you probably won't land the perfect job right away — but at least you'll know some job elements to consider.
Tip: One of your best resources for finding jobs will be your school's career services. The staff there can help you find opportunities, fine-tune your resume, and practice interviewing.
Creating your resume
- Focus on your relevant experience and achievements.
- Tailor your resume to the specific job for which you're applying.
- Keep your resume to one page (at this point in your career).
- Have someone else read your resume for typos.
Need more help? UNC Career Services has even more tips and examples to help you build your resume.
Preparing for your interview
- Research the company and position.
- Practice with sample interview questions.
- Think about how to answer any questions about the experiences on your resume.
- Make sure you’ve completed all interview pre-requirements (some jobs ask you to come prepared with presentations or portfolios).
- Print and bring copies of your resume, letters of reference and cover letter.
- Dress to impress.
- Show up early.
- Look your interviewer in the eyes, relax (but be attentive), smile, and be confident.
- Be enthusiastic, ask questions, and show your interest.
Work-study is part of your financial aid package. If you have questions about whether you qualify for work-study, email or call your school’s Financial Aid Office. Work-study is usually just for the academic year, so if you're planning on working over the summer, check with your boss to see what they can do to keep you on (or take enough credit hours to be considered a full-time student over the summer).
A couple more things to know: Depending on your school, most on-campus jobs require that you have work-study. And you can only work a certain number of work-study hours per semester. Depending on your finances, that may mean that you will need an extra job on the weekends or evenings.
If you don’t have work-study, never fear! There are jobs out there for students without that resource. Check out your school’s career services office and website for help finding them.
Pros and cons
If you have the luxury of choosing whether to work, know that besides earning you extra cash, having a job will help build your resume. You'll probably make connections on campus and learn new skills — skills that may lead you in a different direction (and could even change your career path).
But know that balancing work and school requires, well, work. A job takes up a lot of free time and could keep you from going home during breaks for much needed down time and family time. Come prepared, know your limits, and don't be afraid to challenge yourself. You got this!
is a junior majoring in Elementary Education at UNC. She’s working toward her licensure to work in a third-grade classroom. In the meantime, she is studying leadership in the President’s Leadership Program and working with the Bear Hug Club and the Ambassadors for Student Leadership Club. She’s forgotten the meaning of "free time."