Determining where to allocate your time in college can be a challenge. Starting your first year comes with choosing college courses—each with a college-level workload, the opportunity to join what seems like an endless amount of student groups and organizations, and the need to socialize to make new friends—all alongside the added responsibilities of doing your own laundry, cooking, and cleaning.
Wait till you’re ready
As I entered my freshman year, I chose to postpone getting a job so I could focus on my studies and integrate myself into student life on campus. However, I found that the extra chunk of money I saved up throughout high school quickly dwindled away after paying for books, groceries, student organization dues, dance costumes, and much-needed cups of coffee.
I knew that in my second year, something needed to change. So, I began to explore job opportunities at my school, looking into jobs that ranged from fitness instructor to mail room assistant.
Find a job that works for you
Initially, I wanted to get a job to earn enough money to sustain myself and began to save enough to pay for the following year’s rent. Soon, however, I realized that if I found a job that would be both intellectually stimulating and related to my major, I could be financially stable and also strengthen my skill set as a future physical therapist. I decided that becoming a research assistant at one of the on-campus labs would be the perfect opportunity to make this goal a reality.
Look outside the box
In my university’s job database I didn’t see any paid research opportunities related to my field, so I decided to seek out my own opportunity.
After reading about an assortment of the laboratories at my school, I determined that the Rehabilitation Games and Virtual Reality lab (ReGame-VR) related most to my major and specific interests within the field of physical therapy. I knew that being directly involved with research on new rehabilitation methods would be an invaluable experience as I continued through the DPT program at my school.
I emailed the professor who directs the lab and expressed my interest in working there, and she replied that there was an open Research Assistant position. I met with her, began training soon after, and have been working in the lab ever since.