Categorized | Job Hunting

Hitting the Books and the Pavement

Posted on 10 October 2008

Remember when going back to school meant standing in registration lines and buying a backpack load of textbooks? For many of today’s university students, “back to school” also means “back to work”–typically to a part-time job that fits their course schedule. Recognizing that more undergraduate students than ever need to work in order to stay in school, most colleges and universities actually help students in their job search. From traditional venues to the current vogue of Web sites and job fairs, institutions of higher learning try their best to keep students in pocket (and tuition) money.

Check Out Campus Services
According to Dr. Bob Greenberg, director of career services at the University of Tennessee, the percentage of working students at his institution has risen because of the increasing cost of education. In particular, students who take out loans try to minimize the loan amount or supplement those funds with income from a part-time job. Finding the employment avenues and resources begins with the university’s career services office. These offices post job listings and often hold workshops that provide tips on resume writing and interviewing, all the tools students need to land a part-time job.

UT’s career services office helps a significant number of its 26,000 students find jobs. “I’m talking about 80 percent of UT students,” Greenberg says, “not merely work-study students, whose salaries are paid for by the federal government.”

Part-time job opportunities abound when companies adopt a 24/7 operation.

On-campus, part-time jobs abound in such areas as the library, food service, residence halls, and academic departments. But off-campus jobs also provide many choices for student workers. One way colleges help students plug into this market is with job fairs. UT, which offered its first job fair last fall, recruited 40-50 employers to participate; nearly 1,000 students obtained firsthand information on available jobs.

Another way students take advantage of the off-campus job market is through co-ops and paid internships; these programs offer college juniors and seniors an opportunity to earn work-related experience in areas they want to pursue after graduation. Internships are available in fields from marketing and engineering to writing computer programs, news stories, or advertising campaigns.

Many employers find students to be a steady source of part-time help, and they regularly send listings to university career services Web sites. The Student Source in San Francisco finds the student job market to be so lucrative that its business has been around it. Student Source provides student employees to more than 600 clients, including law firms, publishing houses, architectural firms, and medical clinics.

So, Where Are All the Jobs?
Just as the entire work environment has undergone changes, the part-time job market has shifted also. Although restaurants and department stores have long provided part-time employment, telemarketing and phone-center companies, with their emphasis on sales and customer service, have emerged as some of the biggest employers of students. Brandon Patterson, shift manager for Dial America, a company that sells credit card enhancements, said 70 percent of the company’s employees are college students.

Part-time job opportunities abound when companies adopt a 24/7 operation. For example, companies with overnight shipping businesses, such as UPS and Federal Express, regularly hire students. So do newspapers, which typically need people for part-time work in overnight circulation and in the mailroom. There’s a real demand for skilled workers, especially in the areas of information technology, operation of specialized instruments/equipment, or foreign language proficiency. The following list outlines a few key part-time employment prospects by industry/job type:

  • Telemarketing & phone service centers/Sales; Customer service
  • Retail establishments/Sales; Stockroom Display
  • Law & accounting firms/Clerical
  • Hospitals/Maintenance; Data processing; Lab assistants; Food Service; Housekeeping
  • Hotels/Housekeeping; Banquet or restaurant services; Reservations
  • Office cleaning services/Housekeeping

Greenberg offered this tip to students who consider part-time employment: “We suggest incoming freshmen wait at least until the end of the first semester before starting to work. If they’re not careful, they can get in over their heads.” After they become acclimated to college work, students can take on a paying job; a reasonable job schedule is 15 to 20 hours per week on top of a 12- to 16-hour class load.

Part-time work can be as educational as a classroom course: you learn job-hunting skills and gain real-world experience. If you’re lucky, you’ll earn a reference to jump-start your full-time career once your graduate. And that’s not bad for working a few extra hours a week.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume Tips says:

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