One of the first things that college students should do when they arrive to campus is lock down an on-campus job. It's a great way to make some extra money, meet new people and even earn better grades.
But beyond these academic and financial benefits, on-campus jobs can also help students build their resumes before they enter the workforce.
Hafeez Lakhani, founder of college counseling firm Lakhani Coaching tells CNBC Make It that the key to finding the right on-campus job is identifying an opportunity that aligns with your long-term professional goals. "The best jobs, in general, are ones that appeal to our larger sense of ambition," he says. Though, he admits, "these are not always easy to find."
The secret is to be creative. This means actively networking with various departments on campus and, when necessary, finding alternative funding sources. "Yes, there are a multitude of library, dining hall and administrative jobs for students to fill," says Lakhani. "But if a student can be creative — by seeking funding through grants, for instance — there is a huge payoff."
Here are four of the best on-campus jobs for students hoping get a head-start on their peers:
Lab assistant positions offer students interested in the sciences unparalleled professional experience, not to mention high wages. PayScale estimates that college laboratory assistants make around $14.62 an hour on average.
But Lakhani says that working as a lab assistant is worth more than just a paycheck. "If I'm interested in medicine, for instance, it would be a great idea for me to land a place, paid or unpaid, in a professor's lab," he says.
Working in a lab can expose students to a wide range of scientific processes and teach them the importance of diligence and attention to detail. More importantly, working as a lab assistant can help students network with professors which can lead to research opportunities. Getting research published alongside a widely respected professor is one of the best things that students in sciences can achieve during their academic careers.
Its not easy to launch a career in music but if you have your mind made up, then you are going to have to work hard. One of the easiest ways for students to get experience in the music industry is to get involved with their college radio station.
Most college stations have opportunities for first year students to work behind the scenes in operational roles with pathways to more front-facing positions like DJing.
The key to excelling in this position is to take advantage of every chance you get. Your first solo show may be at an awkward time or you may be assigned a genre that isn't your favorite, but by embracing every opportunity that is thrown your way, you can turn an on-campus job at the college radio station into some serious professional preparation.
Another way to think about what on-campus job is best for you is to think about what types of skills you want to master. If you are interested in fields like sales or marketing, the school newspaper may offer the perfect job for you.
This job often includes reaching out to local businesses to sell ad space and working with operational teams to create and adjust strategy. Working in ad sales for the newspaper can be an amazing opportunity to get your hands dirty and make real sales. It also can give students the chance to oversee team goals and budgets.
Potential employers want to hear concrete examples of when you have performed a function that is part of a role so if you want to work in sales, you are going to need examples of when you have made sales. The newspaper will give you plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Depending on what college you go to, your school may have a significant endowment fund. One of the best on-campus jobs that students can land is working for the office that manages this fund.
"If a student is interested in finance, why not apply to the office of the university endowment?" Lakhani suggests.
The trick to landing this job is networking. It's rare for an endowment office to publicize an opening but just like every other department, this team can still take advantage of help with office work and filing. Even if you aren't making big decisions, connecting with professionals who oversee large sums of money can give students interested in finance valuable exposure.
"Just because a job is not listed on a job board doesn't mean it isn't available," says Lakhani. "Put together a clean resume and an articulate cover letter and go out and knock on some doors."
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