Holding Down a Job as a Full-Time Student

Students involved in a fest
Students attend the Student Involvement Fair in Dunn Meadow on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017.

I remember my first day at IU as if it did not take place over three years ago. My parents dropped me off at Forest, my roommate urged me to try out ‘Welcome Week,’ and my new email account was abruptly welcomed into the world with 50 unopened emails sent within the past hour. Memorable moments happened quickly, and before I knew it, I was pacing around the President’s Room in the IMU looking for a job that would bring some element of consistency in the four years ahead. All the pacing I did had its perks, and by the end of the day, I landed a job at the Friends of Art Bookshop.

I had been told to not get a job while in school a significant amount of times, but I wanted to have real work experience and find a community I could confide in. Also, I just wanted something to do. If you feel this way too, then I highly recommend finding yourself a job preferably on campus or in walking distance, but if you are still peering behind the Sample Gates at the idea, then I will tell you a bit more about my experience as a full-time student with a part-time managerial position.

My days tend to move a little like this (queue the interior monologue):

“9 a.m. painting, can’t forget my locker keys and toolkit…oh and there is my poetry book for lecture, let’s try to shove that in my already exploding bag…ok, I work from 3-6:15 today, a closing shift…gotta pack a lunch! Is it going to rain? Nope. Oh! And I need my laptop, plus the charger since I forgot to plug it in last night, my headphones, a cup of coffee, my planner…good to go! Probably should put some shoes on…”

Image result for stuffing things in backpack gifs

I have a flow to my day, a consistent movement and schedule, no matter how hectic my early mornings are. There is something about leaving home for the day and not coming back until everything in my planner has an ‘X’ next to it that truly makes me feel like I am a grown woman, as opposed to the college student I actually am who calls her mom every day. Since I have had my job for well-over three years, I am used to the beat two different workloads takes: the mental and the physical work. Some days, I go straight from class to my job, from talking about theories of the English language to ringing up muffins. Other days, I have two-hour breaks in between school and work where I can read or do homework before even pondering over muffins. It is a consistency I have adapted to and learned to love. My favorite parts about having a part-time job are getting to know regular customers and learning to be more productive during my week. 

In general, my job has helped me become a better student and an active planner. Although the education system has taught me about responsibility in terms of turning in papers on time, my job has shown me how important responsibility and timeliness are in everyday moments of life. Holding down my job has been a beneficial step in my academic career and has prepared me for life outside of academia. With this being said, I recommend getting a job for those of you who have extra time and want to take on more responsibilities. 

If  you are contemplating applying for a job, there are a few tips I would like to offer you just to make sure you are ready for this decision:

  1. Make sure you have the time for it! Being a student is a full-time job, and it takes priority over any outside activities, including a part-time job. If school takes a lot out of you and requires your full energy, getting a job is not a valuable choice.
  2. If your job starts stressing you out, do not keep it. School is stressful enough so any added stress will only hinder your college experience and possibly your GPA. Although I hold a position as a student manager at my bookshop, I do not accumulate stress. I am employed in a work environment that encourages active student participation and understands the roles we hold as students.
  3. I mentioned this before, but try your best to find an on-campus job or a job close to your where you live. I walk to my job each day since it is located on campus, so I do not have to worry about parking, paying for parking, or buying a parking pass. It’s really just parking, but it is an important, small thing to think about! Make sure every option is going to be convenient for you. 
  4. If you have work-study, use it! Or if you don’t know what work-study is but you have it, I highly recommend reading about it here. This opportunity gives you access to many different on-campus jobs while allowing you first-dibs at endless campus positions. It is how I found my lovely bookshop job, I hope this will help you find yours.
  5. Get a job that works around your schedule, or find a place that is willing to accommodate students. This one is important. If your job begins scheduling you during your courses, it is time to either confront the workplace or walk on out. Your job needs to bend around your school schedule and not the other way around. You are not paying to attend a job, please do not waste your money!

In conclusion, my job has been one of the best memories I hold outside of being privileged enough to go to this university. I have met some of my favorite people while building outside responsibilities for myself, and I have become a better student while doing it. I hope by sharing my student/work journey, I have helped you come to a decision on how you’d like to spend your college career. After all, it is a career in the long-run, and any position on top of this is an added bonus. 

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