Work Study: Campus Jobs and Where to Find Them

What is Work Study

    Work-study is a federally-funded program that encourages students to pursue a part-time job while completing their studies at a university. These funds are awarded through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, and the amount awarded varies based on when you complete the application, your financial need, and the funding level of the school you are attending. Although you may be awarded work-study as a part of your financial aid package, this does not guarantee you a part-time job. The best approach to finding a job that fulfills the work-study requirements is to check with the financial aid or human resource department at your school, but there are some jobs that are commonly open to students.

Campus Tour Guide

If you’ve ever visited a college campus, it’s likely that you have had a campus tour or have seen large groups of parents led around campus by a current student. The admission office for campuses enjoy filling these roles with current undergraduate students that are able to share their personal experience at the school as well as point out some of the interesting buildings or share the history of the school with visitors. For the students, it can be a fun way to share what you like about the school while making some money and getting your daily steps in. These jobs can also be accommodating to students because most tours will last an hour to an hour and a half, which allows you to sneak in one between classes compared to some jobs that will have three or four hour shifts. This job isn’t for every student though. It does involve having to speak to a dozen strangers and be prepared to answer their questions. Most schools will have a common script to work off of, but it can be difficult to navigate parents asking about your high school GPA or SAT score. Overall, being a tour guide is a potentially fun job that can help improve your public speaking skills and give you the chance to connect with incoming students.

Library Worker

I know after hours of studying, the library can be the last place you want to spend more time in. Although it might not be the most exciting job, there are usually positions to stack books or check out books at the desk. Working in the campus library gives students the chance to work a few days a week for a few hours at a time, and it could be a job that’s less busy or involves less socializing than others. In my experience, it’s also possible to do some work at the check out desk when you’re not busy. Although not every school may offer this job, it can be a peaceful environment to work in that is worth looking into for a work-study job on campus.

Athletics Worker

If you love watching your school’s athletic team or if you just need a job that is usually later in the day, then it’s worth it to look into working in the athletic department. There is usually the opportunity to work the scoreboard or keep track of the statistics for the game if your school has home games. Although it may be more interesting if you know about the sport, someone will usually be there to teach you how to keep track of the game. Some of the benefits of working an athletic game is that it usually is a two or three hour commitment for each game, it can be a fun job for many students, and most of the games happen later in the evening for students that have a lot of day time classes. On the other hand, these jobs can be very loud and it’s possible you get yelled at by some rowdy fans. Also, many division one schools don’t allow students to fill these positions. If you have the opportunity, it may be fun to work a game and see if it’s right for you.

Teaching Assistant or Tutor

It is possible that not all schools offer paid peer tutoring or allow undergraduates to work as teaching assistants for classes they previously took. If your school does, then this could be a great opportunity to gain experience in teaching and to further your own knowledge on a subject. If you are able to work as a teaching assistant, then you can have the opportunity to work close to a professor and may get a say in how to improve certain aspects of the class. If you become a tutor, then you have an opportunity to help your friends while also getting paid for it. However, both of these jobs require you to have a thorough understanding of the material and be able to explain this to other students. These are great to develop, but this could require a lot of time and energy. 

Research Assistant

For schools that have current professors completing research on campus, becoming a research assistant may be the most rewarding job. It can give you direct experience in your field of interest, grow your recommendation list, and can even lead to some students publishing a paper before they even graduate. However, this can be a huge time commitment depending on your role in the lab, and it can require extensive experience. So if you don’t end up working in a research lab as a undergraduate student, it is not the end of the world. It may be better for some students to work in a research setting during the summer when you have more time to focus on it, but if you want to work during the school year then it can be possible to use this as a part-time job to fulfill your work-study hours. These jobs do require the student to find a professor that will allow them to work under them, and these jobs can range from completing experiments to cleaning the glassware in the lab. If you are particularly interested in a certain professor’s work then I recommend talking to them early and asking if you could attend some group meetings as well as give them a realistic schedule for how often you could work before accepting the job. 

Off Campus Job

    There may be some benefits to having an on campus job, but that doesn’t mean those are the only opportunities available for the work-study program. Some schools partner with near-by companies or non-profit organizations. Off-campus jobs may be listed on a school portal or forum, and these jobs may require more work to find than an on-campus job. However, these jobs could also help students work in an area that’s specific to their interest or major. Don’t limit your search to what the campus advertises, and you can always contact the financial aid office about outside opportunities you have found. 

Good luck on your search

    This is not a complete list of all the job opportunities for college students, and not every school even offers these jobs for their work-study program. If you have questions about your financial aid package, it’s best to reach out directly to your college’s financial aid office to see what opportunities they offer. Other job opportunities for your school may be listed on an online school portal, and this can help you start finding a job that interests you. The important thing is to look for jobs early, and I’m sure you will find something that works best for you.

If you have more questions about the work-study program or jobs for college students, here are some helpful articles:

https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/work-study

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-on-campus-jobs-for-college-students-2059898

Published by Alexa Lauinger

I graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2020 with a major in biology and a minor in environmental science and engineering. I worked in a biochemistry lab for three years. I was president of the Questbridge chapter at Caltech. And I played on the intercollegiate volleyball, basketball, and track team.

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