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To Work Or Not to Work in College

You are in college, balancing between doing well in classes and having enriching experiences outside of school. Money is tight – it would be nice to have some extra cash – but working can be taxing on your time and energy. What is a student to do?

I have taken fifteen hours per semester since I started college in fall of 2011, and I have only ever been jobless that first semester of freshman year. At the time, I wanted to focus all my hours towards my studies, but I found that I had a lot of spare time where I could have been working.

My second semester I took up work at the university and I have since had three jobs at UT Dallas, all of which have given me experience and some pocket money. So in my opinion, picking up part-time work is a valuable choice, but let’s look at some pros and cons to having a job.

Pays money
Make friends with co-workers
Teaches working with people
Teaches real-world skills
Provides a view into full-time life
Takes time from your day
Rules and restrictions
Adds deadlines/stresses
Forces proximity to possibly unpleasant people
Miss out on activities with friends

The biggest factors in considering a job are the hours and the satisfaction. A lot of people will work a job they hate if it pays well, and other people will work a low-paying job because they love it. It really runs the gambit. When it comes to searching for jobs in your area, you have to decide for yourself where you fall on that spectrum.

Since we are talking about university, let’s look at jobs on campus. Every university offers on-campus jobs for students, and most of those jobs will be flexible with your class schedule. That’s a major bonus. It’s very convenient to have a schedule where you work just a couple hours on your busy days and work your longest shifts on the days with only one class, or any combination of hours that suits you best. Not a lot of jobs offer that kind of flexibility.

There may, however, be a cap on how many total hours you can work (somewhere between 15-20 hours), so you would have to check. Otherwise, having a job you can walk to, work flexible hours, and possibly interact with other students (e.g. cashier, call center, tour guide) can be pretty nice. Some jobs are more rigid than others, but in general most jobs on campus are understanding of a student’s schedule and work load. Some jobs are more monotonous than others, too. Again, it’s a good idea to know your preferences when searching for a job.

Speaking of searching, you should know where your school posts jobs for its students. The university’s careers/jobs department in the services building should be able to give you all the information you need about how to apply for jobs. Most schools have a website where students can fill out a profile and upload their resume. On that same website, you should be able to see a list of all the jobs available on campus.

I had an office assistant job for one semester, a calculus tutoring job for another semester, and for the last year I’ve been working data entry and tech support. Those are just some examples of the kinds of jobs you can get on campus. I have friends who have been servers, computer lab monitors, research assistants (working with lab rats), and workout class instructors. There are so many options; you are bound to find a job you enjoy. If not, a job that builds you, gives you experience, and a little money doesn’t hurt either.


Angela-CoquisAngela Coquis is a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is majoring in Management Information Systems and wants to live abroad and pursue a career in database management. She enjoys Virtual Campus and her dream job is owning a bakery.

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