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Is working at university right for you?

Updated: Jun 18

“Should I even get a job?”

To answer this question you need to carefully weigh finances, academic growth, career growth, and time commitment. First you need to make sure that you are academically excelling. You are a student first. You should ensure you are taking your classes seriously and that you are on track to graduate with the classes you need to take for both your major and your intended career.

Once you determine that your academics are in order and you are taking advantage of clubs and other extracurriculars at your school, you should look for possible job opportunities!

Whenever possible, aim to supplement your career and personal pursuits through your work!

A job is a great way to gain many skills: teamwork, interpersonal skills, technical knowledge, etc. Hands on experience may even make you realize you prefer a different specialization or career and it is important to discover this early on!

“Should I take an unpaid job?”

Sometimes an unpaid internship or opportunity may be a better option than a job. For example perhaps you are deciding between a barista role and an unpaid volunteer research position. In this case the research position helps advance your career, build your network and solidify your resume. The unpaid research position is the better option over a paid role that doesn’t advance your prospects! If your focus is better spent on academic pursuits/extracurriculars or other unpaid opportunities (like unpaid research or internships) then don’t get a job. 

“But I want to get paid!”

There are many opportunities to advance your career and get paid. For example if you are a biology student then a great opportunity to gain real experience may be emailing your professor to see if they have undergraduate research opportunities. If you are a writer then perhaps you can write for a local column on a part-time basis. If you have already taken some courses at your university you might consider tutoring or becoming a teaching assistant—especially if you are interested in eventually becoming a professor or teacher yourself. If you are a medical student you might consider becoming an EMT! If you are an engineer and have a free summer try finding an internship! Hopefully the thought process is becoming clear—take up jobs that will advance you in your career! Get hands-on experience!

“How do I decide between a job that pays more, but isn’t related to my interests or major?”

Think about how much a career oriented job will help you in the future. The career oriented job will help you land higher paying jobs in the future. Alternatively perhaps you can do two jobs simultaneously, especially if it’s summer. Ultimately you are likely better off focusing on the job that will help you more for your future! 

“Can I do a job just because it’s fun?” 

Of course! Maybe you don’t really need the income, but you really enjoy the people or the work itself (like a barista, waiter, gym receptionist, etc). However, ensure that you are prioritizing your academic and career pursuits with the amount of time and dedication that they deserve.

Do you have any lingering questions? 

Stay tuned for a more in-depth breakdown of the types of job opportunities available to you in university!



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