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Every college student wants to make a little extra money, because Starbucks isn’t cheap and neither are textbooks. Even if you’re on a full-ride scholarship or have parents taking care of the bills, you might start looking elsewhere for some income. Many college students take on-campus jobs, whether that is in the school library, the cafeteria, as a residential adviser, or a research assistant.
On campus jobs can be taxing. It’s hard to work where you play, which often results in a serious distaste for the library or your own room. However, on-campus jobs can be extremely rewarding, especially compared to the horrors that many people experience at off-campus places during college.
I’ve worked an on-campus job since the first month I got to campus, two and half years ago, and I’ve never looked back. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my on-campus job, especially in comparison to the ones I’ve had off-campus.
1) It’s a blessing to work close to where you live
I count myself extremely lucky that my commute is never longer than five minutes, even if I hit the traffic lights crossing the two streets I have to cross to get to the law school I work at during the week. If it’s raining, I can pop up my umbrella and make it without succumbing to the water. On a cold winter day, I don’t have to worry about catching pneumonia on the way. Many off-campus jobs require a plane, train, or automobile to get to, I’m mostly kidding. Transportation costs can really put a dent into your paycheck. Being able to walk to work is a blessing and you shouldn’t take it for granted.
2) On campus wages are often higher than off campus wages
While I don’t think minimum wage increases across the board are a way to fight poverty, I’m certainly not complaining about how well my on campus job pays. I make more than $3 more than the state minimum wage, because my school is blessed with a large endowment and wants its student workers to benefit. I would certainly not be making as much if I worked at a clothing store or coffee shop off campus. They also wouldn’t be as understanding of my hectic school schedule either. Universities, with their high tuition rates, alumni donations, and tax-exempt status, are often able to offer higher wagers than other businesses are, so take advantage of that.
3) You’re not above doing basic office tasks
So many college students, especially at private universities that cost an arm and a leg, think that they should be doing real, important work to earn their paycheck. They think they need to be drafting presidential speeches and reporting to the Deacon of the University or whatever to make a job worth it. News flash: you’re still in college and you’ll do whatever your boss needs you to do.
Supervisors of college workers don’t want to waste your time or theirs by sending you on coffee runs or doing busy work, but sometimes, office tasks do need to be done. You’re not above doing it. I work at the #1 Law School in the world and I spend a good half hour every month erasing pencil marks from file folders. Yes, I’m serious. Does it suck sometimes? Yes. Does it need to be done for the functioning of this professor and ultimately the school? Yes. So I do it. You should too.