College  |  January 25, 2023  |  Kayla Pinzur

How I Found the Perfect Part-Time Job for My College Major

What you’ll learn
  • How a part-time job can make college expenses easier to manage
  • Tips for finding a part-time job related to your major
  • Ideas for finding jobs that aren’t tied to your major

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.

"Working as a student can, at times, be difficult, but the financial stability and experience it’s providing is definitely worthwhile."

Finding non-major-related jobs

While it’s great to find a job that ties into your major or career goals, even non-related jobs can give you skills that will help you all through your working life. Any successful job—on or off campus—on your resume shows a potential employer that you’re responsible, that you take work seriously, can manage your time, work well with the public, and that you’re a go-getter. Here are some possibilities:

  • On-campus: tutoring, campus tour guide, bookstore salesperson/stocker
  • Odd jobs: service-industry, like hosting or serving at a restaurant, receptionist, food and grocery delivery
  • Side hustles/IRL: pet sitting/dog walking, fitness instructor, nannying, rideshare driver, lawn maintenance
  • Side hustles/online: Blogging and vlogging, taking paid surveys online, sharing class notes through an app 

Work doesn’t have to be boring

The lab explores how balance, functional mobility, motor learning, and participation in children and adults with neuromotor impairments can be improved with VR-based therapy.

My role is to engage and guide participants between the ages of 8 and 12 through numerous tests and balance tasks, all after preparing the equipment and computer software, and administering EEGs—an electrical test used to find problems related to the brain—to the participants.

You can still have fun

With added income each week, worrying about whether or not I will have enough money to attend my own organization’s fundraisers or buy groceries is much less of a concern now. Working as a student can, at times, be difficult, but the financial stability and experience it’s providing is definitely worthwhile. If a part-time job doesn’t fit into your current schedule, there are other options for covering college costs, like college scholarshipsgrants, and student loans.

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