Mackenzie (‘22, Mill Creek, WA) is a rising sophomore at the University of Portland. She will be answering some frequently asked questions that incoming students may have in regards to having a job in college, as well as sharing a few words regarding her experience of working on-campus during her first year of college.
What types of on-campus jobs are available?
There are so many different on-campus jobs! I would honestly be surprised if you couldn’t find something you were interested in here. UP offers positions from anything like working at sports events, to tutoring. A few that I can think of off of the top of my head are working for the rec center, the dining hall, a workshop leader, and being a tour guide, although there are many, many more. You can check them out on the University of Portland student job board!
I’ve never had a job before. Will I still be able to find a job?
Absolutely! Of course, employers are looking for students who have experience, but this can be other types of experience as well. Did you complete service hours in high school, or volunteer with a certain organization? What types of activities were you a part of and leadership positions did you hold in high school? These are all important things to include on a resume if you do not have prior work experience. Employers are looking for dedicated, responsible, and enthusiastic employees, so try not to worry too much about your past experience!
Is it hard to get hired? What if I am looking for something urgently?
I personally had a little bit of a hard time finding a job. I started applying as early as possible, which was August 1, when the student job board opened up. I applied for a few different positions, and wasn’t hearing much of anything back. I heard it was hard to get a job as a first-year student, but also knew it was possible. I needed something pretty urgently, so I actually made an appointment with the career center to help me build a professional resume and cover letter. This was extremely helpful, as the career center knows exactly what on-campus employers are looking for. I got an interview during my first semester, but the job didn’t seem like a great fit for me. It’s okay to keep looking until you find something that you are interested in! I ended up getting hired at the rec center at the very beginning of second semester.
How many hours a week can you work, or are you required to work if you have an on-campus job?
During the school year (and if you take summer classes) you are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week. If you work on-campus during breaks or summer, you can work up to 28 hours a week. You can certainly work less than this though, depending on your position. I worked 2-4 hours a week at my job. It’s definitely worth investing the time to find something that not only you are interested in, but that will work with your schedule as well.
Can you work only weekends or only weekdays?
Most likely. Again, it depends on your supervisor, but most are pretty flexible in that they know you are a full-time student. I only had one 2 hour shift on Thursday nights last semester, and picked up a sub shift every once in a while when my schedule allowed. It depends on the position, but most likely, your supervisor will be willing to work with you.
Is having a job manageable with taking a full load of classes?
Yes, absolutely. It is all about managing your own schedule, though, and knowing what you are capable of taking on. I knew I needed a job, but couldn’t imagine adding something else into my already-busy schedule of classes and coursework. However, if you start off with only a few hours a week, you’ll be able to get into a routine and plan around it. On a similar note, it definitely depends on what your schedule looks like, too. Some of my friends were able to work almost the entire 20 hours a week, but I definitely couldn’t have done that! So, at the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you.
When should I start looking to find an on-campus job?
If it is a priority for you, I would start looking as soon as the job board opens up on August 1. At least give it a look-through and see what interests you. The interviewing, deciding, and hiring process can be lengthy, so it can’t hurt to apply often and early! It really depends on the student though; some want to work immediately after starting school, and others want to settle in their first year and maybe look their second year. That is all up to you.
What are the advantages of working on-campus versus off-campus?
One big advantage is work study, if you qualify for that. However, an advantage for everyone is that typically, your employer will be more understanding, flexible, and willing to work around your schedule because they know you are a full time student. Also, as a first-year student, you may not have a car on campus, so it makes it convenient to be able to walk to work. You’re also saving gas money by being able to walk! 🙂
Outside of the actual hours, what does the commitment look like for having an on-campus job?
This really depends on where you are hired. For example, my job as a weight room attendant at the rec center required no outside work. I really enjoyed this aspect of the job – the whole concept of “leaving work at work.” However, I know there are also some really fun and rewarding jobs on campus that may require a little bit of work outside of your paid hours, such as being a workshop leader. It really depends on what you’re looking for and what you’re interested in.
Would I be required to work during breaks?
It depends on where you work. That is also something to keep in mind when applying for jobs. My job as a weight room attendant did not require me to work during breaks, although I could’ve if I was around. However, positions such as a front desk attendant or a dining hall employee would most likely be required to work some shifts over breaks.
Would I still have time for a social life?
Most definitely! Again, it is all about your own personal time management. This may mean getting up a little earlier or staying up a little later on a Thursday night to finish something for Monday, so that you have time to spend the day downtown with your friends on Saturday. On the flip side, it may mean cutting down that social time a bit, but I don’t know anyone who having a job has severely impacted on that front.
What if I begin working and realize that the job is too much on top of classes?
I would definitely start by having a conversation with your supervisor. They’re going to appreciate your honesty in letting them know that you are overwhelmed. Hopefully, they are willing to work with you, whether that mean cutting down your hours or something of the sorts. They understand that you are busy and trying to juggle many things at once.
If I get hired in a certain position, am I guaranteed to keep that position throughout continuing semesters if I want to?
This all depends on the position, your supervisor, and the quality of work that you show! I would say that most positions will technically make you “re-apply” for upcoming semesters, although if you supervisor enjoyed having you on staff, you will most likely get rehired.
A brief personal experience working on-campus:
I, gratefully, had a super positive first experience of working on campus! I worked as a weight room attendant at Beauchamp, which I enjoyed for multiple reasons. I’ve always valued an active lifestyle and strength training was an important part of my time as a cross country and track athlete, so getting to work in the weight room was just super fun for me. I also enjoyed getting to build relationships with other staff members and patrons. Lastly, I enjoyed having the opportunity to both utilize skills that I had learned from previous jobs, while also gaining new skills in a new position.