Getting a job on-campus is the most convenient form of income for a college student. But how do you get one? It can be hard to know where to turn, who to ask, and what job may be a good fit for you. I had the same concerns early in college. In fact, I turned to off-campus tutoring before even trying to work on campus. At the time, that seemed better than searching and applying for on-campus work a bit aimlessly. I didn’t know where to turn, so I just didn’t bother. That mentality was a mistake, but thankfully it didn’t set me back from getting an on-campus job as early as the summer after my freshman year.
How I did it:
While Mason Ambassadors is an organization where members give campus tours during the school year, it is a paid position during the summer break. I remember my excitement upon hearing about this at the end of my first spring semester. I had already applied and interviewed for this position to become an Ambassador, so it took away the worry about whether I would get the job. That is how being a Summer Ambassador became my first on-campus job. Since then, I have also held that position during winter breaks, and it has been great when I’m not working current semester jobs.
You never know what work can be considered volunteer/unpaid during the semester and paid during breaks. Whether it’s research, helping in a lab, assisting a professor, or giving campus tours; it doesn’t hurt to explore these opportunities. If you’re living the area, it’s pretty convenient. On the other hand, if you’re taking part in an unpaid professional experience (such as an internship) or are staying in the area for the summer for another reason, this is a great way to help you stay on top of your expenses.
I started my second campus job as a Tele-counselor for Mason’s Office of Admissions in the fall of my sophomore year. I would take classes, attend club meetings, and get some schoolwork done during the day and then work in the early evening. I found this job through word-of-mouth and a personal recommendation from a friend in Mason Ambassadors since we work so closely with Admissions. I emailed my resume in as an application when I came to know about this position, shortly before the start of the fall semester.
It is so important to keep track of your connections. Your professors, friends, classmates, or the advisors of your clubs/orgs may have an opportunity for you. Don’t be afraid to ask around and ask for help. Even asking an older student could result in plenty of suggestions for you to look into. So, if you don’t know where to turn when looking for a campus job, try asking the people next to you because everyone’s experience and knowledge are different.
I first learned about my current job on social media. The Office of Contemporary Student Services posted that they were looking to hire new Off-Campus Advisors for the upcoming school year on their Instagram story. I then went through the application process on Mason’s Handshake portal (through Mason’s University Career Services) and was able to get the job! While it was a months–long process between seeing the advertisement, applying, and being interviewed amid the pandemic, I am so grateful for it all. That long process has led me to a job which is so fulfilling and that I truly enjoy. Who would have thought that Instagram could lead to such a big and positive change in my life?
Following various Mason organizations, departments, and offices on social media could lead you to find out about potential positions when they become available. Additionally, searching through Handshake, bookmarking your jobs of choice, and applying to these positions are also great ways to find out about and get an on-campus job. These are resources available to everyone. It is not about how involved you are or which connections you have. Instead, it is about what efforts you are making to get an on–campus position.
TLDR; I get it. It’s a lot to take in. I would say a key takeaway is to ask around! See what associations your clubs and peers have. I’m sure there is someone you know or someone around you that can connect you with a job. Also, connect on social media! Often times, campus offices or departments market their openings via email or on social media so that it reaches a lot of students. Finally, take advantage of the university’s Career Services resources, such as Handshake. Handshake is a great tool for narrowing down your search and applying for positions specific to your liking. Happy applying!