I, like many of my peers in college, held jobs throughout my undergraduate career in order to help make ends meet. Working while taking classes, especially at a demanding university like UC Berkeley, isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when hours worked begin to dig into study time. I knew many undergraduates who resented their jobs at cafés, restaurants, parking garages, and theaters in the neighborhood for putting extra pressure on their study schedules.
As far as college jobs go, I and a few of my friends were extremely fortunate to find positions that not only gave us the flexibility we needed to keep our studies on track, but also offered us opportunities to learn important job skills or to engage with our fields. I realized quickly that, even though undergraduate students often don’t have many options when it comes to jobs, college work hours don’t have to feel like a waste of time. Here are five of the best job options we found:
Just about every university (or university area) I know of offers paid tutoring opportunities, which are a great way to develop leadership, communication, organization, and public speaking skills. Tutoring hours are often flexible, and tutoring subjects that you yourself study can help you stay sharp in your own field. Many tutors I know also love their work because of the positive impact it can have on students.
I took notes for my university’s Disabled Students Program, which paid me a stipend in exchange for detailed lecture notes for disabled students’ use. Some universities also allow private note-taking companies to hire students to take high-quality lecture notes, which are then sold to other students. Taking notes on lectures, especially those in your field, allows you to combine learning time with work. If you’re enrolled in the course that you’re taking notes on, you can earn money in exchange for work you’d be doing anyway.
These aren’t always paid, but it’s worth looking into them either way. Gain experience in and exposure to your field, build relationships with experts, and contribute to interesting projects by working with researchers at your university. The hours are often very flexible; in many cases, research assistant projects can be completed from home.
Again, these aren’t always paid, but are definitely worth exploring anyway. Holding internships in your field will offer you work experience, exposure to your field, and sometimes even academic credit if your university accommodates it. If you need to work during college, it makes a lot of sense to do the same work you’re going to college to learn about in the first place.
Do you study computer science? Help a local business redesign its website. Do you study journalism? Hone your writing skills by looking for work as an editor, drafter or blogger for a nonprofit near you. Doing short-term work related to your field of study will help you better craft the skills you’ll need to succeed post-college and will look great on your resume, too.
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Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.