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On-Campus Jobs: Opportunities & Benefits of Working on Your College Campus

Colleges and universities offer thousands of on-campus jobs for students who want to get involved with campus while earning some income. Not surprisingly, research shows “increased academic success for students working on rather than off-campus,” according to the American Association of University Professors.  

At Brigham Young University, Student Employment Manager Jenifer Jarvis explained how approximately 19,000 on-campus jobs are held by students.

“At BYU, we’re really invested in having students work on campus so about 40 percent of our students work on campus,” said Jarvis. “We believe in helping them pay for their tuition as well as providing opportunities for them to gain work experience. They handle a wide variety of responsibilities. Often, students say that the most valuable part of their education is their job experience.”

This wide variety of jobs at BYU as well as other universities extends from entry-level food service or administration positions to graduate students who do intricate lab work or teach classes, and everything in-between. BYU has student employees in almost every department, but most colleges also employ students in both campus facility areas and academic departments. This allows students to gain work experience in an academic field or hobby that interests them. Either way, this provides career experience for students. As on-campus jobs often serve as a first job for college freshmen that grows their employment skills.

“I worked as a kids gymnastics coach on campus on the weekends during my freshman year. I did it because it was an easy way to earn money and grow my skill set while not needing a car to get around. I gained both the hard skills needed to coach gymnastics and the soft, interpersonal skills that come from working with families,” said MacKenzie Mantsch, University of Denver graduate.

Working on-campus allows for a convenient way to gain work experience as many on-campus positions work with your academic schedule and are in close proximity. Students are able to leverage the skills learned in on-campus jobs when they later search for jobs and internships that relate more closely to their career goals.

“Working on-campus was a great option for me to begin employment early in college and grow my resume before I started applying for internships,” said Mantsch.

In addition to work experience, working on-campus allows students to form mentorships with professors or other university staff that employ them. Students also work with peers, and some students manage their peers, gaining management and group work skills.

“We believe in giving them work experience and helping them pay for their education so that they can keep the cost down, but also they can interact with the employees at the university and be mentored by them,” said Jarvis.

When it comes to academic departments in particular, students are able to engage further in their studies. Former University of Denver student, Emma Beech, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Psychology. She was able to coincide her academic work with her on-campus job as an assistant in the Art Department.

“I worked as an assistant in the Art Department for about two years, where I was given a lot of creative freedom within my duties. This included anything from setting up the studio for drawing and painting sessions, assisting during classes, to curating the gallery for exhibitions. I was compensated for my work and also had my own personal studio space, which was a huge plus,” said Beech.

In addition to hands-on practical application to academics, students may also have the opportunity to learn from older peers. Jarvis explained how visiting scholar students that come in and work in the science labs are able to work with younger, less experienced students and serve as peer mentors.

As for the monetary gains, Jarvis explained that most on-campus job wages are above minimum wage. While there is obviously a payment difference between an entry-level job and more advanced jobs, on-campus jobs are financially profitable.

“There are also some savings that are a benefit to students. They don’t have to pay FICA taxes when they’re classified as a student, so that’s about a seven percent raise,” said Jarvis.

Additionally, if you live on or near campus, there are no transportation costs that are often associated with off-campus jobs. Plus, there’s the obvious fact that you would be on-campus at some point during the day either way. For students that decide to stay near campus over the summer, students are able to continue to work through summer classes or in other on-campus seasonal programs. For example, BYU hosts several summer camp-type programs for youths, including sports camps, theater camps, and other activity-based programs. This allows the older college students to work with children in a fun way, and continue to make money over the summer.

Student employment is not only a benefit to students, but to the university they attend as well. Students provide a fresh perspective, as passionate university students are notoriously innovative.

“They’re so bright and up-to-date on current things and they can come up with solutions and ideas for departments that help us stay fresh,” said Jarvis. “So it’s such a benefit to us as well as to the students.”

With the rising cost of tuition, many students are turning to part-time jobs to cut some of the cost and work towards paying off loans while still in school. But, balancing academics and work can be tricky. Working on-campus allows for a more convenient alternative, cutting transportation cost and time, and allowing students to make university connections.

To find on-campus employment, visit your student employment office. This office will be able to direct you to available on-campus jobs and set up your employment eligibility and HR paperwork.

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