During my first year of college, I didn’t have a job. Admittedly, it was a nice break and it gave me the opportunity to get the hang of everything in my new environment. I quickly realized, however, that your bank account dwindles fast when you don’t have any sort of income. As a certified shopaholic, this was definitely concerning for me.
Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year. I worked at a local sports bar back home and earned back all the money I spent over the course of the year plus a little extra! I decided that I wanted to continue to earn money during the school year, so when I arrived back at school I started applying for jobs. I got one at a retail store, and I honestly love it. The only tricky thing is trying to find a work schedule that fits around the rest of your commitments. You might have to do some trial and error, but it is possible, believe me.
First Things First
Take a look at your school schedule. Academics always comes first – no matter what! If you’re taking a heavy load of credits (16+), don’t overwhelm yourself with a lot of hours of work. You still need time for yourself! Your future employer understands busy college schedules, so don’t be afraid to set your limits. Below, I have a mini cheat sheet of how many hours college students typically work in relation to the amount of credits they’re taking.
12-15 credits = 15-20 hours of work
16+ credits = 10-15 hours of work
By no means do those numbers apply to everyone, but it’s a good starting point if you’re unsure about how much you’ll be able to handle.
Apply, Apply, Apply!
The only way you can get a job is if you fill out applications! My advice would be to start with jobs on campus. These are super convenient because you don’t have to commute anywhere, the pay is usually over minimum wage, and the employers are absolutely required to work around your class schedule.
So all those sound really great, right? Well sometimes the only jobs available are ones that aren’t the best. Like I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to work in the dining halls. The work is long and hard and you’re sweating hardcore by the end of your shift. If that’s the case for you too, then you might have to expand your search to outside campus property. My best advice for you here is to start with stores and restaurants nearby, and gradually start to apply to places further away.
Keep Your Future Career in Mind
I’m an apparel merchandising major, so it was important for me to find a job in retail to learn more about the fashion industry. Retail experience automatically improves my resume and I’ll be more likely to find a good job after graduation. This applies to other industries as well!
If the job you’re applying for has the word “internship” in the title, then that’s extra amazing! Employers love seeing that word on a resume because they know it was a more intensive experience where you had a lot of responsibilities.
So You Got The Job…Now What?
Congratulations! Getting a new job is always exciting, but now comes the balancing act. At the beginning of each week, I like to take a look at both the hours I’m scheduled to work and my other commitments. If I see that I have to work a long shift on Wednesday night, I make sure to get most of my homework done before that. That way I don’t have to stay up extra late that night to finish everything after work.
If you got a job off campus, make sure to factor in the time it takes to drive back and forth. For instance, I work about 15 minutes away from campus. Factor in about 5 minutes for heavy traffic and the few minutes it takes to get all my stuff together, that’s about 30 minutes both before and after work that I have to block out of the rest of my schedule.
Last Minute Tips for Success
1. If you’re feeling overworked, ask for a reduction in hours – Everyone gets busy. If there’s a time during the year that you know you won’t be able to work as much, let your employer know. They should be very understanding.
2. Whatever you do, do NOT blow off work – If you’re feeling sick or have a schedule conflict, you need to decide how to handle it. If you decide that you just cannot make it in to work, you need to let your employer know a few hours before your shift so they have time to find someone to cover for you.
3. Have a job you enjoy – Let’s face it, a lot of part time jobs aren’t the most fun you’ll ever have. However, if you truly hate your job, it’s time to find a new one. Keep in mind though that it’s always easier to find a job when you already have one, so don’t quit your current one just yet!
Those are my tips for managing a part time job while you’re in school. Hopefully they helped you out a bit!
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