Navigating On-Campus Jobs, Work, and School ( College Student Perspective)
Navigating On-Campus Jobs, Work, and School, Alexandria Mae Meinecke
Heading off to college I was worried. My singular work experience as a real-estate secretary for my dad’s company did not qualify me for a job, and a job is exactly what I was looking for the first week of orientation. FASFA granted me federal work study and I searched through the possible on-campus jobs. I applied to a couple, two that happened to be secretarial positions, but one stood out. It was at the library. The circulation desk was looking for student assistants who would help direct patrons, shelve books, and other such services. Within two days the library hired me and I started learning the Library of Congress system for shelving books.
At the University of San Francisco there is a limit as to how many hours a student can work every week on campus. This is because they do not want the focus to be work, they want to allow the students time for their classes and their homework. I can work a maximum of twenty hours a week. I discovered that fifteen to twenty hours while taking sixteen to eighteen credits is the perfect balance. With a job I never overload myself with classes, and the limited hours gives me time for papers and projects, and meeting with teachers or a tutor for extra help. The convenience of working on campus happened to be a major plus. While my friends waited out in the fog for their bus, I took a five minute walk from my dormitory to the library.
There were two big perks to my on-campus job: the pay and vacation time. On-campus jobs offer ten to fourteen dollars an hour, making up the difference for working less, and picking up the extra shift or two can boost that paycheck even more. Because of the school schedule, whenever classes are canceled the library is closed. Holidays and Spring Break are easy to plan ahead for, and there is no worry about asking for time off. However, during the summer the need for student assistants is limited, and if you plan to spend the summer in your college town you might be on the hunt for another job.
Luckily for me, this was not a problem. Instead of going home for the summer, my parents urged me to stay in the city and work. Staying a summer in San Francisco it is hard to remain unemployed for long. At the end of freshman year I moved into an apartment off campus with friends from the dorms. A week later I was an employee for Victoria’s Secret. I got anywhere from twenty-three to twenty-eight hours a week. The environment was upbeat and fun, my co-workers friendly, and my bosses nice. Unfortunately, the downsides kicked in when I got my first paycheck. Making minimum wage definitely decreased my paycheck, and even though the company is nice enough to pay their employees public transportation fees, on a bad day I could have a twenty to thirty minute bus ride. My breaks were short, and waiting in line for food from the mall court could take up thirty minutes, making you either inhale your food or go hungry. Eventually the atmosphere began to wear on me, and I missed the leisure of my on-campus job.
That fall I was back at the library. I did not live on campus anymore, but my shifts worked well with my classes. I would often study on campus during my breaks, bringing snacks and packing my lunch, and I could schedule shifts close to class times without feeling rushed or worried about being late. Also, it was nice to work on campus my sophomore year because my class schedule became very crowded. Often times I would only be able to catch up with friends when I ran into them on campus. Working at the library made it easy to chat with friends I otherwise would not have seen.
Since I now knew all of the library processes and had a good understanding of the campus layout, I was able to get involved with other aspects of my job. My head supervisor would ask for my help with special projects, I got to participate in library events, such as the USF Garden Project, Thatcher Gallery exhibits, special readings by authors and poets, decorating for holidays, etc., and I began to form better relationships with my co-workers. I had a good grasp on what shifts I preferred too, which made scheduling an easier task. I made sure to pick shifts that gave me more time during my day or were during slower hours, allowing me to study.
What it all came down to was my preferences. I enjoyed working off campus at Victoria’s Secret, but the library gave me more flexibility with my time and my schedule. As an English major I valued this because the majority of my homework is reading and papers. An on-campus job at the library offered me more time to work on these, and in the process exposing me to valuable resources for my classes. I could complete research for papers and projects while working because everything I needed was at my fingertips. Many of my friends with intense majors, like Nursing and Law, agree that working on campus provides them the cash flow they desire without being overwhelmed. During my first few years of attending USF, this was important for me because I was learning how to balance my days. In college people are not going to remind you to do your homework, do your laundry, or say that you should skip the party this Saturday. You have to be responsible. The school, your professors, and your boss, are going to expect that you will complete your work, be on time, and plan ahead. It can be a challenge at first, but by using some quick tricks, like an on-campus job and taking a moderate course load, it can be an easy transition.
*Alexandria Mae Meinecke is originally from Indiana and currently studying Business and Marketing at The University of San Francisco. Alexandria on Unigo