When, Where and How to Find a College Job

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If you plan to earn money by working in college, you’ll need to understand the first steps to finding a job. Here are the basics.

When to Look for a College Job

Now. If you plan or need to start working right away, start looking now. Use the tips below to start your search before you leave home or as soon as you’re moved in.

If you’re counting on work-study earnings as part of your financial aid, be aware that those jobs sometimes fill quickly, so the sooner you start, the better. See other work-study tips.

Or later. Some students prefer to wait until they have at least a few weeks of managing a new class schedule, a different type of homework load and the college environment before adding a job to the mix. In that case, you should start looking for suitable work a month or more before you hope to start.

 

Where to Look for a College Job

Today’s college students have multiple choices for the job search. As you search, remember that if you can tie your part-time job to your major or intended career, you’ll also be gaining experience future employers may value.

College career center. Most campuses offer job postings through their career services area. Often, these are also listed online so you can begin looking before classes start.

Departmental offices. If you’re interested in helping professors with administrative duties, tutoring other students, leading campus tours or becoming a resident assistant, you may approach specific offices directly.

Community and campus openings. Many college towns face an increased population of students, faculty, parents and sports fans during the academic year, and employers hire accordingly. Consider restaurants, sports facilities, retail outlets, gyms and even specialty openings like auto repair or photographer’s assistant if you’re qualified. You may also find that your skills as a babysitter or lawn worker in high demand from faculty and other residents.

Online searches. Find on- and off-campus jobs by searching for openings listed on the web.

 

How to Land a College Job

After looking at your options and considering how they mesh with your particular skills and goals, take steps to improve your chances of getting a job.

Apply early and often. You’re likely not the only student looking at a particular job. Get your application in early, and apply for a number of different positions. If you have specific parameters, like you must work on campus, you may need to increase the number of jobs you apply for to improve your chances.

Reach out to an individual. Personal referrals often help if you know someone who already works for the employer you would like to work for. Even if you don’t have a contact, researching and reaching out to a hiring manager can give you a leg up.

Be professional. Include a cover letter, a professional resume and references with your application if the position warrants it. (Your campus career center is a good resource for developing these items and determining their need.) Provide accurate contact information and be ready to respond to a phone call, text or email. If you meet with the employer, send a thank-you.

Prepare for interviews. You may need to schedule an interview around classes and other commitments. Make sure you put your best foot forward by preparing well.

Follow up. Don’t assume a lack of timely response is a “no.” Before you leave an interview, ask for a timeline and be prepared to call or email your interviewer for an update after that date. If an interview isn’t required, it still doesn’t hurt to call about progress on hiring for the position a few days after the application period closes.

By: Iowa Student Loan

5 Tips for Choosing a College Major

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It starts as soon as people know you intend to go to college — everyone wants to know what your major is or what you want to do for a career. This can lead to a lot of stress if you just aren’t sure. Try these tips to help figure out your answer.

1. Don’t panic.
Many young adults — and a large proportion of older adults — haven’t figured out what they want to do, so you’re not alone.

For many career paths, you can wait a couple of semesters to declare a major without extending your college career (and potential debt). In fact, many colleges advise those who aren’t absolutely sure of their major to spend some time exploring before committing to one.

2. Find out where your interests lie.
Think about what you most like to do. What classes did you excel in? What extracurriculars, activities and events do you keep going back to? Have you ever been so absorbed in something that you didn’t realize how much time had passed?

Questions like this can help you determine how you like to spend time. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ask your friends and family what they notice about you.

Assessments can also help you determine your interests and potential careers, and the majors tied to them. Your school counselor or academic adviser can help you find assessments, and several are available for free online.

3. Consider all the aspects of a potential career.

Salary can be an important factor when you think about careers and the majors that will allow you to obtain a job in that field. But, you may have other considerations.

Ask yourself whether you want a job that will allow you to help others or improve the world in some way; whether you like high-stress environments that will require you to make quick decisions or meet deadlines; whether you prefer to work alone, in small groups, or with a large variety of people; if working in cubicle or driving around the state is more appealing; and other similar questions.

Also consider the lifestyle you would like to have. Do you want a job that will allow you flexibility to volunteer or spend more time with a family? Do you prefer urban or rural environments? Would you consider a move across the country — or the world?

4. Explore your choices.
Once you have an idea of the types of majors you might like, use a tool like ROCI Reality Check to help you explore the jobs actually achieved by graduates of that major, as well as the job descriptions, projected need for workers in that field and expected salaries.

Think about job-shadowing or finding part-time jobs that are closely related to the type of work you want to do to see if the reality is close to your expectations. Many professionals are happy to talk to interested students about the type of work they do every day.

Some colleges offer exploratory courses or programs to help you take a few classes from several majors and pinpoint where your interests lie. Talk to your academic adviser about these possibilities.

5. Keep an open mind.
You may find that you don’t like certain aspects of the career you always wanted. If that happens, think about related careers that don’t involve the things you’d rather avoid. Take a look at the actual jobs held by graduates of your selected major in the ROCI Tool to get ideas for related careers.

If you do declare a major and then decide it’s not for you, it’s usually not hard to change your major. Depending on when this occurs and how different your new major is from your last one, you may find you need to spend more time in school to complete all the required courses.

Remember that your major can be instrumental in helping you obtain your first job out of college. After that, you may find that skills you picked up in your first position are more useful in landing your second. Also, many people switch careers one or more times before they retire. Your college major does not necessarily dictate all your career choices for the rest of your life.

By: Iowa Student Loan

What Does “Success in College” Mean?

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Success in college is often associated with earning the cap and gown, but there’s more to it.

It’s also about earning high enough grades to land the job you want. Some employers will not interview students or recent graduates with GPAs below a specific average, usually between 2.50 and 3.00. Earning a GPA below the magical number for your career area could reduce the value of your college degree.

So how can you ensure your GPA is high enough? Some keys to getting good grades are:

  • Taking your classes seriously. Remember that being a good student is your job while in college.
  • Carefully tracking when assignments are due, and budgeting your time accordingly.
  • Going to class and taking good notes.
  • Doing the required reading.
  • Spending the time necessary to adequately study outside of class.
  • Checking your grades to make sure you get the credit you deserve. Ask your professor why you were docked points, and ask if you can redo any subpar work.
  • Taking actions to master the concepts and details of the course content.

To master the course concepts and details, you should aggressively seek out help from multiple resources:

  • Take advantage of your professors’ and teaching assistants’ office hours. Ask them to review your papers before you turn them in or to help solve a problem that is vexing you.
  • Attend scheduled help sessions for the class.
  • Obtain a tutor from your college’s academic support services.
  • Form a study group with other class members, and share the partial knowledge that each of you possesses to gain a more complete understanding by all members of the group.
  • Locate other students, friends or siblings who have taken the class and ask for their help.

It’s no accident when people get good grades in college. They succeed because they are determined to do so and are willing to take every step necessary to make it happen.

By: Steve McCullough
President/CEO
Iowa Student Loan

Interview Tips for On-Campus Jobs

Working on campus offers several benefits for college students from convenience to flexibility. In addition, you may gain valuable skills and contacts for your future career path. Use these tips to help you land the job.

Interview-InfographicDownload a PDF of this infographic.

Before Interview Day

  • Look at the department or office website to understand its mission and activities. Then, articulate how those are tied to your own goals and how you can help your employer.
  • Ask how long the interviewer expects the session to take and schedule appropriately. Plan to arrive early.
  • If you’re communicating with the interviewer, ask about the office dress code. If you’re unsure how to dress for your interview, err on the side of more business than casual, even if it means overdressing for your 8 a.m. class.
  • Know your availability. How many hours can you work during the week without affecting your studies? Do you have a regular activity or commitment that you’ll need to schedule around?
  • Ask potential references who aren’t related to you if you can give out their contact information.
  • Prepare your answers — with examples — to common interview questions, such as:
    • Name an accomplishment you’re proud of.
    • What previous jobs have you had and what did you do?
    • Tell me about an area you’d like to improve on.
  • Think of at least two questions to ask the interviewer.
  • If you’re nervous or haven’t had a job interview before, work with your campus’s career services to practice.

Day of the Interview

  • Have the interviewer’s contact information with you in case you’re unavoidably delayed.
  • Bring a copy of the resume and cover letter you submitted when you applied, as well as a transcript or other documentation that show your qualifications if the job is related to academic ability. Bring along your reference information as well.
  • Arrive five to 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.
  • Silence or turn off your phone and put away earbuds and other electronics.
  • Dispose of any food, drinks or gum before you enter the office.
  • Introduce yourself and shake hands firmly.
  • Be friendly and relaxed (but still professional).
  • Show that you’re attentive by making eye contact with the interviewer, nodding and smiling as he or she describes situations or asks questions, and paraphrasing questions in your response.
  • Don’t feel like you need to rush every answer. Thinking for a few seconds can help you make sure you convey the impression you want to give. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
  • Before you leave, ask about the next steps and the timeline for those.
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and shake hands again.

After the Interview

  • Within 24 hours, send a more formal thank-you by email.
  • If you haven’t heard anything within a couple of days after the timeline you were given at the interview, follow up. Let the interviewer know that you are still interested in the job and offer to provide any additional information needed.

By: Iowa Student Loan