Don’t turn up your nose at what looks like a “nothing” job – it’s all in how you spin the experience.
Personally, we don’t know too many college students who don’t work at least part-time while they’re in school. Some wouldn’t be able to attend college at all without working. Others have the basics covered, but work so they can enjoy some extras. And a lucky few work not because they have to, but because they want to. No matter why they work, though, students who hold down jobs during college gain something that money can’t buy: experience, and a chance to develop marketable real-world skills.
Starting a job search? Don’t turn up your nose at a gig just because it looks like a “nothing” job that you wouldn’t want on your resume. As with lots of things in life, it’s all about how you spin the experience. And don’t overlook non-traditional or think-outside-the-box opportunities, many of them on or close to campus. For example:
- Alumni Services Staffer – Working in your school’s office of alumni affairs will expose you to everything from fundraising and event planning to outbound marketing. Another great reason to seek out this kind of job: The networking potential. On your resume: Marketing communications coordinator, event coordinator, development (fundraising) coordinator.
- Brand Ambassador – Marketing products to peers has taken off in recent years as more and more companies look at establishing a presence on college campuses. To find this kind of opportunity, check out BookRenter’s program or RepNation.com is a good place to start. On your resume: Marketing consultant, customer service specialist, brand evangelist (yes, that’s an actual job title in many companies).
- Tutor – This gig isn’t for everyone. Patience and personality are prerequisites for the job. But private tutoring usually pays a decent hourly wage (especially for math and science tutors) and allows you some flexibility when it comes to scheduling. For tutoring opportunities, start by checking your campus placement service, local want ads, and Craigslist. On your resume: Tutor, teacher, subject matter expert (SME).
- Residence Hall Advisor – Another job that’s not for everyone, but RAs usually receive a discount on their own dorm fees (or aren’t required to pay at all). On your resume: Facilities manager, peer counselor, team-building specialist with excellent interpersonal skills.
- Writer: Almost any career path you take will involve communication, a lot of it written. So getting some writing experience under your belt could stand you in good stead someday. Instead of waiting for jobs to be posted, be proactive. Contact local publications and marketing/advertising agencies to see if they use freelance writers. If you don’t have a portfolio of your work, offer to do an assignment “on spec.” If the editor doesn’t like what you do, they don’t have to pay you, but you’ll have a finished piece to show to the next publication or company you talk to. On your resume: Writer, fact-checker, researcher.
- Entrepreneur: We’ve heard some great stories from students who created their own job opportunities. (One of them is Keith Kaplan, winner of one of two BookRenter 2011 Social Media Internships, who started his own cookie business while an undergrad at Michigan’s Albion College!) Other creative student businesses: a laundry service that delivers clean, folded clothes to students’ dorm rooms; a girl who offers personal wardrobe consulting and closet organizing; a weekend artist who turned her hobby into a paycheck by holding painting classes on campus; two classmates with one car and lots of initiative who provide child care support to working couples by picking up their kids from school; a computer geek (self-described) who offers 24/7 consulting and computer repair to students in his dorm; a journalism major who started an editorial service specializing in fact-checking, editing, and proofreading senior papers. On your resume: Entrepreneur, small business owner, director of marketing.
Planning to work while you’re in school? Tell us about it!