The best way to work on campus is to not work at all.
By that, I mean not having an on-campus job. Managing academics and maintaining a social life is much easier when one doesn’t also need to work in order to pay off tuition or living expenses. Although it may give you more work experience and more money in your wallet, it certainly takes up a lot of time and not all campus jobs are worth the effort you may put into them. In addition, the best jobs on campus–those that pay well and have good work conditions–are almost always hard-to-find or highly sought after by students. Ideally, if one could avoid it, the best situation is to not have to work during the academic semesters and to gain work experience and money over the academic breaks.
However, realistically, not everyone has the luxury to choose that option. Many of us have work-study requirements or piles of incoming bills that demand we get a job a.s.a.p. when coming to college. For those of us who must work, what then can we do? What are the best work opportunities that will generate the least stress for us? In short, what is the best way to work on campus?
As of now, I currently have three jobs with Cornell University:
- I work as a student blogger for their Life on the Hill blog series.
- I work behind the counters of the Ivy Room at Willard Straight Dining, preparing and serving food. And….
- I work as a tutor for elementary school students through the Public Services Center’s REACH program.
It may seem like much, but I actually work relatively few hours for each of those positions and the hours are pretty flexible for most of my jobs. It was much harder my freshman year, when I had only one job but stricter hours and when I worked 4-5 shifts a week on average. However, having three jobs wasn’t something I had intended either. It was a product of a desperate search to find a job after being unable to return to my previous employer at the end of Fall semester, Sophomore year. The only way I could cover my work study allocation while also making up for the time I spent unemployed was to accept three job offers simultaneously and balance them against my academics.
Given my experience with locating work at Cornell, as well as the stories I have heard from my fellow classmates, I feel as if I can say I am very familiar with Cornell’s on-campus employment system. For those of you looking for work, here are some tips you should now:
- Check out Cornell’s student job databases for relevant postings. It was through databases and various advertising locations on campus that I found every single one of the jobs I have had over my last two years at Cornell.
- Look for a job early in the semester. The longer you wait, the smaller the chance you will have at snagging a decent job with hours that will fit your academic schedule.
- Ask students you know about where they have worked or recommend working. Students always have valuable insight on the different workplaces available on campus or, at the very least, they might point you in the direction of someone who could help. Another option is to go to different offices, libraries, and other facilities on campus to ask directly if they have openings.
- Once you have a job, if you want to quit, make sure you get a new job before leaving your old one. I was once told I would have a job ready for me only to find out that, once I had quit my other job, a position wasn’t actually available for me. It took me weeks to find new employment, and those weeks of no income really hurt me in the long-run.
Now, what is the best work to have on campus?
Well, I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you that for me the best jobs I’ve had on campus were the ones that were the least advertised, like my blogging job and my job as a tutor. Those jobs took me a long time to find, but they are definitely the most rewarding overall. Both jobs allow for wonderful experiences interacting with people (adults and children, alike), pay relatively higher wages than my past jobs, are more flexible time-wise, and have the least stressful work conditions (I’m looking at you, Cornell dining jobs). Jobs that were the most common for students–working in libraries and dining halls–were the least rewarding in my experiences. I did get to meet a lot of interesting people through those types of jobs, but the poor hours, hard working conditions, ineffective management, and low wages didn’t make it worthwhile. I currently maintain a job at the Ivy Room because I have already developed an attachment to the people working there. However, between the Ivy Room and blogging–or between the Ivy Room and REACH–the latter options are definitely better for my current lifestyle as a student.
If you’re a student looking for the best work on campus, my best advice is to continue looking beyond the obvious choices of employment for those jobs which may prove more interesting for you personally or more suitable to your schedule as a student. You can take on a dining job or library job in the meantime to earn money, but I strongly urge you to continue looking for other employment even while you are working at those facilities. In summary, the best job on campus is the one that most students don’t even know exist. Find one of those jobs, and you’ll have a much easier time getting through your academic and work requirements; I guarantee it.