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Undergrads and Part-Time Work

 
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NARSAddict View Drop Down
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    Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 8:46am
I hope this will help some folks and also open discussion on whether if it is beneficial to work while in undergrad or not?

Find a Job That Complements Your Lifestyle and Doubles as a Networking Opportunity

By

When Taylor Morrow was searching for part-time work as an undergraduate at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., she didn't have to look any further than the faculty lounge.

Brian Stauffer

Ms. Morrow, who studied accounting at Susquehanna's undergraduate business school and received a work-study grant as part of her financial-aid package, landed a job as an events-planning assistant for an entrepreneurship professor. In her two years in the position, Ms. Morrow connected with many business-school professors and local entrepreneurs as she organized networking events. Additionally, she says the professor she worked with was very understanding when she had to rearrange her schedule during finals.

"In terms of prioritizing, school has to come first," says Ms. Morrow, age 22, though she credits the experience she gained as a student worker with helping prepare her for her current position as an accounting associate with Prudential Financial in Newark, N.J.

With all that's vying for undergraduates' attention as they head back to campus this fall—including extracurriculars, social events and, of course, schoolwork—juggling an on-campus job can seem like a tall order. But if you choose a job that complements your lifestyle and opt for a position that doubles as a networking opportunity, being a student worker isn't only manageable, it also could bring rewards that go far beyond just collecting a paycheck.

Finding a job that's a good fit is critical for busy students, says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching, a career-counseling service in Boston.

For example, if you're worried you won't have enough time to study, look for a job monitoring an art gallery, library or athletic facility where you're likely to have a lot of downtime, Ms. Bolzan says. Or, if your schedule is largely sedentary and you need some physical activity, get a job that keeps you on your feet, such as waiting tables or refereeing intramural games, she says.

Ms. Bolzan advises freshmen to delay taking a job until at least halfway through their first semester or, if they can, to wait until their second semester. This will buy you some time to get to know your campus and find your rhythm, she says.

If you find a job that allows you to expand your professional network, jump on it, even if you might earn more doing something else, says Harlan Cohen, author of "The Naked Roommate," a college-advice book.

"If you want to be a doctor, don't work at Subway," Mr. Cohen says. He suggests contacting your student-employment or career office to see if there are any on-campus opportunities that match your career interests. Alternatively, you could try asking your professors if they need help with research or know of any paid student opportunities. That way, he says, you'll gain work experience in your field and make connections with potential mentors.

If you need to brush up on professional skills, your student-employment office may be a good resource, says Amy Greenspan, student-employment coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin. UT Austin, for example, offers the Student Employee Excellence Development (SEED) program, which includes a series of 16 workshops that cover topics such as employment basics, conflict management and stress management, she says.

SEED participant Stormie Wilfong, a UT Austin senior who works part time as a senior student associate at the athletics department human-resources office, says she has drawn on advice from the workshops while on the job. In particular, she says she implemented this tip: Be attentive and courteous to everyone who walks through the office door.

It seems to be working. The 21-year-old, who studies health promotion at the university's college of education, was named a finalist last year for UT Austin's Student Employee of the Year award.

If your college doesn't offer similar resources for student workers, talk to upperclassmen about their experiences working on campus, Mr. Cohen says. They might have pointers about balancing studying, work and life at your particular school, he says. And they probably know where to look for the best on-campus jobs.

Don't stress out too much about time management, students and experts say—indeed, you might find you're more efficient with a job than without one. "If you have a job while you're in school, then you don't have so much free time to waste," Ms. Wilfong says.

—Email: lindsay.gellman@wsj.com
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zolloh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zolloh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 10:08am
during undergrad i worked full time. a few retail stores but mostly call centers so i could study @ work and pay my tuition....on the other hand i missed out on networking opportunities and school-related extracurricular activities but i didnt have any student loans so it was worth it to me
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NARSAddict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 10:14am
How was your GPA (you don't have to specify) and are you currently employed?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote zolloh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 10:55am
My GPA was ok, I graduated summa. Worked in my field for about 8yrs then headed back to grad sch, where I'm almost done. I cant technically "work" in grad sch coz they pay us/for us.

In undergrad I knew what my family's financial situation was (4 of us in college @ the same time and a single mother), so we each had to make sacrifices, pay our own way and keep the grades up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Samoneisthebest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 11:49am
I spent a good part of my undergrad doing research in my department. Which of course got me some good contacts and even a free trip to the chemistry convention last year in New Orleans. My grades didn't suffer because they are very clear about my studying being my number one priority. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NARSAddict Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 25 2013 at 3:35pm
That is good to here zolloh and Simone.  I recall a good while back when I was in undergrad that it wasn't good idea to work and go to school unless it was a last resort.  I wished I heeded that advice but then again I was going through some things and clearly I wasn't as focused.  But fast forward and I am in a better place and I feel that as long as I set my goals and stick to it and let the people in my life aware of these plans, there is minimal obstructions.
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