Heading off to college is about a lot of things. One of those things is learning to work. Many college freshmen get their first paying jobs while in school, and that early professional experience is often crucial in creating the successful career-person they’ll become.
Be careful, though. Not all jobs are helpful, educational, lucrative, or even safe. If you’re a college student looking for a job that will lead to long-term success, you’ll want to consider a few factors regarding the positions you seek out.
Money is obviously a big part of your job search. If you’re like most young college students these days, you’re going to need to work through school in order to feed yourself and get started paying off students loans. Unfortunately, few high-paying jobs are available to people without college degrees (which is why you’re in the school in the first place, right?). Nonetheless, you might want to shop around for a gig that exceeds the minimum wage. This way, you can keep your work hours down and save time for your studies.
Some students get to school with a twenty-year plan in place. If you’re one of these big-picture thinkers, you’re in luck—that plan can help you to narrow down ideas for your job search. Look for something related to your eventual goal. Want to become a doctor? Snag an entry-level gig at the clinic. Interested in social justice? Many nonprofit companies have opening for part-time workers. Even if you don’t land a dream job, you’ll make contacts and prove your value to your preferred field.
Health and Safety
Don’t sacrifice your health for a part-time job. Some high-risk fields tempt college students by offering higher pay than they’d get cashiering at a gas station. Unless you plan on heading into one of those fields, though, getting a dangerous job is probably not worth the extra pizza money. Your college job is short-term; your health is forever. Doing construction or driving deliveries could destroy your life permanently if something goes wrong. Take a smaller check, and think of the lower safety risk as a paid benefit.
Some jobs demand a lot of time. When you’re browsing job ads, keep in mind that your main focus as a student should be on school, not work. Avoid jobs with unpredictable schedules and on-call requirements, like many direct health care and management positions. School needs to be your priority. Seek out jobs at companies with a lot of employees and regular schedules so that if you need to get out of shift in order to study, there will be someone to cover for you.
Work can drain you in more ways than just time and money. Some jobs can leave you so worn out that you’ll be unable to study no matter how much time you’ve got left over. Paramedic work, for instance, may leave you emotionally exhausted and unable to care about that 17th century Scottish History research paper. When you’re looking for a college job, seek out low-stress work.