Student contribution: working in college

female college student looking for a job

To get a job or not to get a job, that is the question. There are a ton of good reasons to consider working while you’re a college student: money, experience, money, networking — and did I mention money? All that extra dough is great, but work can easily become a distraction from studying (and let’s remember that passing your classes is your primary job in college). Plus, you may not have transportation which could add a challenge to your search. Lucky for you, I’m here to help.  

There’s a lot to consider before even applying for a job. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Be sure your schedule is open enough for a job. Besides making it to class, you’ll still need to keep a normal sleep and study schedule. Learn more about time management here.

  • Budget out what you need and how you will use your paycheck. Be sure to include a savings plan. I have budgeting tips for you here.

  • Decide if you should work on or off campus based on your transportation options. More on that below.

When you first start applying, remember that there may be a lot of students looking for work so on-campus jobs can be a numbers game. Be patient and give yourself some time to find the right job for you. More time means more jobs to apply for, increasing your odds of finding and landing a great one. Check out these tips from iGrad on how to increase your odds of getting the job.

If you’re in a research-focused major, you can even try getting a part-time position helping a professor. My sister was an intern for the ASU REACH Institute and now, two years later, she’s working for them full time and they’re helping cover part of her graduate school tuition. Now that’s a success story!

All jobs have something different to offer. Some of the office or front desk jobs you’ll see advertised tend to be slower paced and more task-oriented while something like a restaurant job is more fast-paced and requires being on your feet for several hours. Decide what will work best for you and focus on finding that type of work. Here are some great resources to get started on your search:

  • Search through ASU’s listings for on- and off-campus jobs, TA positions and more.

  • If you’re eligible, take advantage of work-study to find something great.

  • Check out ASU’s Handshake site and set alerts (you’ll see the button on the right side of the page) to be among the first to hear about new postings.

 If you don’t get an on- or near-campus job or you want to branch out, you have other options. For example, I’m a business major. And while business textbooks are great for telling you how something works, there is nothing like being a part of the action. The biggest challenge I’ve faced when looking for off-campus work is determining how I’m going to get there. Just making it to the interview can seem impossible if you don’t have a car.

I learned that buying a car might make sense if you get an offer for a great job, but be sure to consider the cost of insurance, gas and parking before hitting the used car lot. Here’s a great list of things to consider before making the purchase. If you don’t have or want to buy a car (or if your hourly wage doesn’t justify parking expenses) carpooling is my favorite option. Once you receive an offer, talk to your employer about carpool options, they may have something already worked out for student employees.

Remember, you always have the option of public transportation. ASU students on all campuses can purchase a U-Pass for unlimited public transportation for the school year. The Tempe campus has the free FLASH and Tempe Orbit buses that can cut costs and get you around the area. Check out schedules and routes for the entire valley here.

If none of these options work for you, try exploring your entrepreneurial potential with a side hustle. Check out Adulting’s list of the best side hustles for students for ideas.

Post contributor: Aubrey Durham


Adulting 101

Sun Devils turn to ASU Adulting 101 to learn (some of) the things not taught in class. Not sure about how to do something? Need to connect with an expert? We got you.


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Meet the team

Ivan Alcazar
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Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Major: Political science
Year in school: Junior
Aubrey Souders
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Major: Justice studies
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