Having a job while in college is a common experience for many students. This is the second of two posts examining some factors that students might consider as they seek college employment. In the first post, we looked at some general, but important, questions your student might think about. In this post, we look more carefully at some of the differences between on-campus and off-campus jobs.
Once your student has decided that he needs a job and has time to commit to a job, the next decision will be whether to look for an on-campus or off-campus job. This is a complex question. There are advantages and disadvantages to both situations. You can help your student explore which type of job may be best for her by considering some of the following factors:
- One of the major advantages to an on-campus job is the ease of getting to it. Students generally do not need to travel very far. However, if your student attends a large university, on a sprawling campus, an off-campus job close to his residence hall may actually be more convenient than an on-campus job on the other side of the campus.
- Because it is easy to get to, an on-campus job may often be “sandwiched” in between classes. On-campus employers may also be willing to have the student work several short shifts of an hour or two rather than a full shift and will work around the student’s class schedule.
- On campus employers are usually understanding of student schedules and obligations. They may allow the student to miss work for a major campus event, they understand about major projects or final exams. Off-campus employers may be less flexible.
- A student may be more easily able to find a substitute for an on-campus job because of the number of other student workers. However, finding a substitute for an off-campus job may be easier at times (such as during finals or breaks) since the pool will include people other than students.
- An off-campus employer may have difficulty letting a student go during long weekends, school breaks or summer vacation. Your student should be sure she has an agreement with her employer if she expects to take time off to go home.
- If your student has had a job at home with a major company, it is possible that he can transfer to a location close to school. This may make getting a job easier.
- An on-campus job will allow your student to make connections on campus. She will have an opportunity to meet and work with other students, faculty and staff members. She will be able to combine her job with her engagement on campus. However, an off-campus job will allow her to connect with people outside of the college. If she is looking for an opportunity to have a break from school or to connect with the wider community, this may help.
- Your student might consider which jobs are more interesting. Both on and off campus jobs may be menial work – clerical work, food service work, landscaping or retail work. However, some on or off campus jobs may be more challenging or allow him to make connections. Have him look carefully at all opportunities.
- Off-campus jobs may have better pay, possibly with raises and benefits. A student working on-campus may trade off some cash benefit for convenience or flexibility or an opportunity to work in a particular department or with a particular person.
- Most on-campus jobs are for the school year only. If your student hopes to continue her job all year, she should ask about summer employment.
- Off campus jobs may lead to employment after college. Your student might consider what he hopes to be doing after graduation and look for some off-campus job that is related.
- Any college job – either on or off campus – will go on your student’s resume. He might consider which job he would rather list as work experience.
Obviously, there are no absolutes. For some students, working on campus is the perfect opportunity for a number of reasons. For other students, the possibility of looking off-campus for employment opens up a number of options. Once your student has decided what he is looking for in a job, and has considered the many factors involved, she will be able to make an informed decision about whether to work, and where to work, during college.