For college students, money is often a stressful topic. Between the rising cost of tuition, the high price of dorms, apartments, and meal plans, and even just everyday bills like car insurance, stretching student loans and college scholarships to cover all the necessities can be quite difficult; for this reason, many students take on a job while in college.
However, the college job search is often quite tricky; after all, it can be hard to know where to look for a job, what resources you should use, and whether you should search for a job in your major or just a regular customer service job.
Believe me, I’ve been there before…several times, actually. But it’s by no means impossible.
To simplify the college job search process, as well as some tips for your search, I've put together a guide of 8 resources to successfully navigate the college job search and (hopefully!) get you that job!
1. Apply For Work-Study
Filing your FAFSA (which stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step to navigating the college job search. Why? Because the FAFSA is what can qualify for work-study, a form of financial aid received through an on-campus job.
Even if you’d prefer to not work on-campus, I always recommend opting in for work-study just in case. After all, applying for it doesn’t mean you have to accept it if it’s offered in your financial aid package, which means it doesn't hurt to apply and have it as an option!
Another reason why you should apply for work-study? Students who qualify are given preference because of their financial-need status. This makes it much easier to land a job. Some colleges even have jobs that are only available for work-study students. This means signing up and qualifying for work-study can be the key factor between getting a job and not getting a job in college!
Tip: When applying, beware of FAFSA scam sites, which may claim that you need to submit a fee to file your FAFSA. You can find the actual site by clicking here and can file as early as October 1st for the following school year.
2. Apply On The University’s Job Site
Didn’t qualify for work-study or looking for additional options? Check out your university’s job site!
While each university will be a bit different (as some may have their own job site and others will partner through a network, such as Handshake), checking out your school’s job site will make it easy to see and bookmark different positions that you’re interested in, apply to them,check out the progress of your application, etc. It’s also possible that the website will show both on-campus positions and off-campus positions, too!
Tip: If there’s a profile section of the site, make sure you fill it out! Include your major, description about you, a resume, etc. Having a completed profile can help your application stand out to employers!
3. Apply On An Unaffiliated Job Search Site
In addition to applying on your university’s job site, another option is to check out an unaffiliated job site, such as Indeed.
While sites like these (most likely) won’t show you on-campus options, it’s great for finding jobs in the local area. This can be especially helpful for bigger cities, where it can be time-consuming to search through business’ websites one-by-one. By using one of these larger websites, it’s easier to find jobs, organize your favorites, and then apply.
4. Talk To Your Department And Professors
Departments love to hire students who are majoring in their department! Whether it's a desk job, helping professors get materials ready for class, or setting up for shows or events, there's always a need for an extra set of hands.
It’s important to note that these jobs are not always announced or posted; sometimes, they're only advertised by word-of-mouth! Ask your professors or the head of the department if any of these positions are available.
5. Look For Local Employers
Where there's a college, there's bound to be a budding college town nearby and many local businesses are eager to hire students. The best part is that even if you don't have a car, these jobs can easily be within walking or biking distance!
To find out whether there are any positions available, check out their website, social media accounts, or visit them in-person. Remember that even if you used a large job site in tip #3, not all employers will post job openings on them, so it’s still worth doing a little bit of research to find local employers that meet your interests.
6. Attend On-Campus Career Fairs
Attending a career fair can seem scary and intimidating in college. After all, you're not just applying for a “job” anymore…you're applying for a career!
However, career fairs are an amazing way to meet employers and find out about local jobs, internships, and companies that you may not have known were in your area. Plus, since these employers are on-site, you have the opportunity to make a great first impression and put a face and personality to the name on your resume!
Career fairs usually happen during the first couple of weeks of the semester, so if you haven’t found a job yet, no worries! A career fair can be the perfect place to look.
As you prepare for your career fair, here are some great tips on crafting the perfect elevator pitch.
7. Use Your Skills In Freelancing
Are you self-motivated are strong in a particular skill? Have a weird college schedule that makes it hard to work enough hours to pay your bills? Then put those skills to use and try freelancing!
While it's not a “typical” college job, freelancing lets you work when you want, wherever you want, as much as you want! Whether it's running an Etsy store, tutoring local students, designing graphics, or writing articles for a client, there are numerous ways you can be a freelancer.
Want to learn more about freelancing in college? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 on Side Hustles and Part-Time Jobs for College Students, as well as How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer When You Have No Experience.
8. Meet With The Career Center
The Career Center is one of those things that we always talk about in college, but rarely ever utilize. (Oops.)
Well, now’s time to change that!
From resume help to interview practice to job searches, your college's career center is ready to help any student who walks through that door looking for work. Plus, they have an abundance of resources and connections that can help you find a job and/or internship in college. They may even know of specialty jobs (like working for a visiting fair or carnival for a few weekends) if you're just looking to make a bit of extra money!
Final Thoughts On Navigating The College Job Search
The college job search can be frustrating and sometimes it can feel like there's just not any jobs out there. Believe me, I spent almost 2 months applying to dozens of jobs, going in and introducing myself to some of the location's managers, and even taking a typing test in an attempt to become a receptionist, all before I heard back on just one of my applications. Sometimes it just takes a lot of persistence, knowing where to look, and figuring out what job will be best for you. But it is possible and by reading this article, you now know how to successfully navigate the college job search.