Tips for Landing a Job in College or Graduate School

A student I mentor asked me if there was anything he should consider regarding finding a job in college or graduate school and I thought I would share a few of the things we discussed.

“Is there anything I should do for my job search before I arrive on campus?”  YES!
  • First and foremost, try to find a job on campus.  When you work on campus your employers know that you are a student and they will provide you with the flexibility you need.
  • Quite often, you will need to be work study eligible, so be sure to fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA
  • Contact your department secretary and the Dean of Studies to ask them if there are jobs of fellowships available on campus.  This will immediately make you stand out from the rest of the pack.
  • Contact a faculty member that conducts research that interests you.  Let them know you are an entering student and keep your email short and top the point.

“What sort of job should I look for?”  One that helps you complete your education.

  • Find a jobs as a new student were you get paid to advance on your degree, either by completing research or learning skills you need for your degree
  • If that is not available, find a job that can go on your resume
  • Find a job that helps you pay for something you need to buy for school, such as books or computers
  • Find a job that helps you pay the bills, such as at a coffee shop or local coop
  • No matter what, find a job that you like.  If you have an okay job, find a better one.
  • Above all else, make progress on your degree.

“I think I found a possible job, is there anything I should consider before accepting it?”

  • Before I arrived at graduate school I mentioned that I had a job offer where I would get paid $12-15 per hour.  The professor told me to accept the job and keep it on the back burner, as most fellowships paid that amount. The good ones, I learned were in the $20+ range.  is something better came up, I could always decline.
  • Find out if the job offers any other perks such as office space, health insurance, on the job training, or opportunities to publish.  Try to get a concrete answer on what you can gain after working with the faculty member for a semester, year, or decade.  Remember, you are a looking for something that will help you make progress in your degree, not slow you down, and unfortunately, some faculty prefer to use students rather than help develop them into colleagues.
Good luck, and remember, a job in graduate school should above all else help you complete your degree.  Good luck and kick some ass!