Student Jobs

I have a job!  I feel like I'm crowing this from the rooftops today, but what can I say- I'm pretty excited.  You're reading the blog of the new Student Assistant to the Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research.  As a once again gainfully employed person (believe it or not, ducklings, I write this for fun, not money), I thought I'd share my experiences of job hunting at college- what to expect, where to look, and how to manage a job once you get one.

When I graduated high school, I had a grand vision of paying for school through a combination of scholarships and a full time job.  Instead, I learned a couple of very important lessons.  First, the average student job will cover the bill for tuition OR housing OR food OR a car OR entertainment- but probably not more than one or two of those, even if you live frugally.

Second, jobs are great time sucks.  Let's say you take the bare minimum in classes- 12 credits.  I never did- if you want to graduate in four years you should take at least 15.  But even on 12 credits, you have 12 hours of class time a week, plus around 36 hours of out of class work for challenging classes.  Include 8 hours a night for sleep and two hours for eating a day ends up being 70 hours a week.  With 40 hours for a full time job, you have about 10 hours of free time a week.  Every class after that drops it another four hours.  At some point, you have to start dropping food and sleep.  That impacts your grades, impacting scholarships and future employment.  Basically, anticipate the time demands, and don't rely on being able to take an unreasonable amount of hours to pay your bills.

Third, you won't always be able to get a job in your field right away- and even when you can, it might not be exactly what you were hoping for.  I'm an engineering student.  Most engineering jobs are pretty 9am-5pm.  Interestingly enough, so are most engineering classes.  Don't give up hope though- even if you have to look outside of your area of expertise, if you look, you can find somewhere that will offer experience to diversify your resume or offer a new skill set.  In my new job, for example, my new supervisor speaks German.  In addition to getting office and administrative experience, I can work on my fachvokabular (technical or professional vocabulary), granting my resume a little bit more of a sparkle for the future.  If you can't get a job right away, volunteer for a while.  A lot of the time, you can get experience in a field you couldn't get hired in by volunteering.

Alright, so you're dedicated.  You've decided that some financial security is worth the sacrifice of your free time, and you have some idea of the sort of skill you want to develop in a job.  Now, you wonder, where do you find these jobs?  There is no shortage of answers to this question.  I have friends who swear by the bulletin boards- UAF has many of them, and I have seen positions advertised both on and off campus there multiple times.  For on campus jobs, is definitely your best resource.  UAF Career Connect has some resources, especially for summer internships.  Several professional organizations and the Honors Program have list servs (email groups) that send out relevant job postings.  At some point in the last couple of years, I have gotten a position from all of these sources.  Career Services is also a great resource for reviewing resumes and cover letters once you've found a posting you wanted to apply for.

So now you've found that perfect job, and you're ready to get started.  The most important tool to managing your new job is a schedule.  Plan ahead!  You have less free time, so procrastination is more likely to result in an all nighter or not finishing an assignment.  You also have a much tighter schedule, and its easy to let classes slide.  Don't let it happen!  Schedule down time, too.  You might think you are saving time by only taking time for essentials- but it will cost you a lot more down the road when you have a break down mid semester from the work load.

UAF's a pretty great campus for jobs.  We have plenty of openings, and the placement rate after graduation is excellent.  By planning for a job before you begin, I'm hoping you miss some of the pit falls that tripped me up.  Good luck!

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