Paying for college can be one of the most stressful parts of the college experience. It’s essential to know all of the options to chip away at a big bill. Financial Aid Award letters include grants and scholarships (free money with few strings attached), loans (need to be repaid) and earned-aid (usually work-study) – a guaranteed part-time job. Part-time jobs, either under the work-study program or not, offer valuable opportunities for students to earn money, reduce debt, and gain valuable experience.
When considering if a college is affordable, some students factor in the potential to earn money while in school. These earnings may be used to reduce the number of student loans in two ways. If the money comes from a summer job, it can be used directly to pay the tuition bill. If it is earned during the school year, students can use a tuition payment plan to make some or all of the payment when it’s due and then repay the tuition plan over the coming months.
One rule of thumb is that students should not work more than fifteen to twenty hours per week during the school year. Balancing a job, their social life, and studies can be overwhelming, so capping the number of work hours can be important.
While a part-time job puts money in students’ pockets, it is also an opportunity to:
- Build a network to find a full-time job. Networking can mean finding a mentor or discovering someone who might alert them to a new job. Some companies have formal mentoring programs to help employees feel more comfortable in their new workplace environment. The mentor-protege relationship should be mutually beneficial — a protege should be more than a coffee-fetcher, just as the mentor should be more than a lunch-buyer.
- Develop long-lasting skills including invaluable interpersonal and time management skills.
- Evaluate potential career opportunities, determine if a career in this field fits their interests, passions, and desires, and understand how to get on the road to success in a particular field.
- Gain confidence and establish a track record of success on a job showing that they are reliable, trustworthy, and a good employee — all things that future employers will look upon favorably.
A part-time job for most students is invaluable – an initial venture into the adult world and the first entry in the “Experience” section of their resume or LinkedIn profile. They now have a key additional piece to complement their explanation of how volunteer work or participation in a club or on a team counts as experience. A part-time job makes writing that part of their resume or LinkedIn profile much easier while providing some much-needed spending money and an opportunity to reduce student debt.
There are many stories of part-time work leading to full-time employment and meaningful careers. Robert Mariano started as a part-time deli clerk at Dominick’s supermarket in Chicago’s suburbs, worked very hard and befriended the owner. He rose through the ranks to become the Chief Executive Officer. Several years later, he started his own chain of hugely successful supermarkets, appropriately named – Mariano’s. Just imagine, starting as a part-time meat slicer and ending up with your own chain of very successful grocery stores. That could be your student one day!