Personal Finance

15 Great Jobs for College Students

come in were hiring signMillions of students are attending colleges and universities across the country. Many of them are going to have to pick up a job while taking classes to support themselves or even pay their own tuition. For those who are in this position, we have some great ideas for finding the right gig once you get on campus. Some of these aren’t the highest paying part time jobs you’ll ever find, but others could earn you a pretty penny!

Those of you who are seeking employment may want something that pertains to the profession you’re training for.  These jobs will not only allow you to earn an income, but also make in-roads with a company that could offer you a full time position when you’re ready to enter the job market after graduation.

1. Food Service

You may have had a job like this in high school, perhaps slinging burgers and fries at the local McDonald’s. Well now that you’re in college, it’s time to step it up a level and think about getting a job as a member of the wait staff at a better dining establishment.

There are often a myriad of bars and restaurants in and around college towns so there should be no shortage of opportunities available to you in this field. If you’re good with wine, knowledgeable about how to make a killer margarita, or you’re just a beer snob with an affinity for craft brews, then you could be a good bartender at one of the local joints as well.

This type of gig is particularly useful if you’re majoring in hospitality or hope to open your establishment some day.  You can get invaluable on-the-job training and insights into how a restaurant operates. If serving isn’t your thing, you could always work the host/hostess stand up front and take reservations at one of the classier eateries. Busboys and kitchen staff are also ideal choices for anyone who wants to work in the food service industry as a career path.

While you’re dreaming of becoming the next five-star restaurateur, you’ll need to start by taking customers’ food orders, carrying trays of food, refilling drinks, and working to make someone else’s night out enjoyable. If you do your job well, those tips can get pretty sizable.

2. Driving Jobs

For those of you who love being behind the wheel, there are a couple of jobs out there that you can do in between classes. The first and most obvious job is driving for a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft.

It’s true you’ll need your own car (and it will have to be in great shape) if you want to pick up some ride-sharing work, but it’s easy to do and you can set your own hours to tailor it to your busy schedule. Many part-time drivers report making pretty good money.  Plus, college towns are full of potential customers who don’t want to take public transportation to and from campus.

If that’s not your thing, consider delivering food in and around town. You pick up a pizza here, some Chinese there, an order of wings, and drive it to the customer who typically lives within a short distance. Much like other food service related jobs, the tips you get can start to add up and it won’t be too harsh on your gas tank, either.

For those of you who aren’t keen on delivering food then you can try being a courier.  You can deliver just about anything else that needs to make it from point A to point B as an on-call courier.

3. Retail Jobs

You have a wide range of options when you work retail, but many of those may be limited by the shops and other retail establishments on or near your school campus. It doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to commute far to get a retail gig, unless it’s something truly special that pays extremely well. Otherwise, you may want to stick closer to campus or where you reside currently.

It’s possible you had a job like this in high school as many students usually get something in retail as one of their very first positions in the job market. You know the drill, the smaller venues usually need someone to watch the store, ring up customers, tidy up, and provide a helpful hand when necessary. If it’s a job at one of the big retail chains like Walmart or Home Depot, then your job duties could be anything from stocking shelves to customer service to wrangling shopping carts.

Supermarkets often need personnel who can bag groceries, rotate the produce, change out the price tags on the shelves, restock inventory, and yes, wrangle those shopping carts in the parking lot, too. When you’re done for the day, you can grab some dinner and any extra items you need around the house and head home to jump into your homework.

4. Babysitter/Petsitter

More college students are taking jobs as nannies and babysitters because there is pretty good money to be made watching other people’s children. There are a few qualifications you’ll need to demonstrate first.  You’ll want to demonstrate an affinity for getting along with kids (some as young as just a year or two) and proving that you’re a responsible and reliable individual. If you have these qualities, then you could get a job minding and taking care of children.

Perhaps you’re an older brother or sister who has been tasked with watching younger siblings in the past.  If so, this experience can certainly be of great assistance in placing you with a family. Weekends are generally in demand for child care services on a casual basis, but those families who need a nanny might require your time more consistently.

You’re going to want to get some references under your belt of past clients, or friends and/or family, who can vouch for your dependability and safety. You will also need to pass a background check.

Once you’ve secured some clientele who are pleased with your performance you can build on that to find more potential clients. Just be warned, you’re going to want to be on-call at a moment’s notice in case one of your families has an unexpected emergency or similar eventuality where your services will really come in handy.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking kids are too much of a responsibility. How do you feel about dogs and cats? You can take on a similar job watching after pets for clients who need their dog walked or their cat looked after for a weekend. Dog walkers and pet sitters can make some good money and set their own hours.  It’s just like babysitting, but your charges are often cuter and cuddlier. Earning money while playing with a dog or a cat sounds like the easiest job ever, but while it can be fun and enjoyable you do want to keep in mind that you’ll need to be just as responsible and trustworthy as you would with children.

receptionist5. Receptionist/Assistant

College students who are looking for good part time work may want to consider applying for a gig as a receptionist or an assistant at a firm in their chosen field. These types of jobs are a great way to get your foot into the door of an industry you hope to join after graduation.  For those students who have long since decided on a major and have a career path in mind, this can be one of the best ways to get started in that direction.

The job may take up more time than you might expect at first or could grow into something more full time if you make yourself particularly invaluable to the right person. As a receptionist you could be called upon to answer phones, pick up lunch orders, go on coffee runs, send emails, distribute mail, and generally help the office run smoothly. Assistants are often given more tasks that go beyond these, some of which could be more personal such as running errands and rushing around town as a right hand man or woman to your boss as they go about their day.

How much responsibility you take on is up to you, especially in light of your other collegiate commitments.  You could be earning a pretty sizable paycheck as a proven commodity to your employer. Not to mention you’ll be getting real world experience in the field where you want to work someday.  The better you are at this job, then the more likely it could become a long-term, full time thing once you graduate.

6. Outdoor Maintenance Jobs

Some college students are skilled at working outdoors and they enjoy it far more than if they were tethered to a desk or fast food counter. If this sounds like you, then you might want to pursue a job in one of the many outdoor landscaping jobs that are available.

These types of jobs tend to be more in demand in the spring and summer months.  However, if you’re going to school in the Western or Southern parts of the country you may find these gigs are available all year round.

It could be something as simple as mowing lawns, pruning bushes, pulling weeds and cleaning up hedges. You could join up with a landscaping company that has all of the equipment, licensing, insurance and bond requirements in place so you don’t have to handle those things personally.

Maybe you don’t have a green thumb.  Instead, you could find a job painting houses and other structures. There are many outdoor maintenance companies that will train new hires to teach them how to paint and clean up homes, public buildings and parks, and other facilities so that they look brand new. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this type of work before, most of these best companies will train you before they let you shimmy up a ladder.

7. Freelance Writer

Here’s a job for all of you English, Journalism, and Literature majors who want to pursue a career in writing. There are a wide range of freelancing opportunities for students looking to get their feet wet and compose a few pieces for publication.

Getting published in any form is a smart way to start building a portfolio of your work, to help you improve your skills and provide you with valuable samples for showing prospective clients down the line. The great thing about freelancing as a writer is that you can do this work from pretty much anywhere and you can accept assignments as your schedule permits. The better you become as a writer, the more jobs that will open up to you, setting the stage for you to find entry into whatever field you wish to work in as a professional writer.

8. Resident Advisor

A number of college students make some extra money working as resident advisors. These positions bring with them a lot of responsibility and require natural born leaders who have strong people skills, a dedication to helping their fellow students succeed, and are willing to work within the community at large and not just the floor of the dorm facility upon which they live.

Resident Advisors provide a valuable service to the schools that they attend.  While the job can sometimes be a 24-hour commitment, it can also be very rewarding. You’ll be a guide, a disciplinarian, a moderator, and a crisis response team all in one. If you were a hall monitor in high school, you could be well suited to take on a resident advisor job.

9. Attendant Jobs

The term “attendant” can mean a few different things, based on the kind of work you’re willing to take on. There are valet attendants who park cars in city lots, outside of restaurants and hotels, or in front of office buildings. You’ll need to have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record in order for anyone to trust you with an automobile, even if you’re only driving it and out of a parking space.

There are also restroom attendants where you hand out paper towels, gum, mouthwash, anything that patrons in a luxury hotel, restaurant, or nightclub might need. Some hosts and hostesses are considered attendants in fine restaurants, as you monitor reservation books and show customers to their tables.

These jobs are fairly low impact.  You don’t need to go through much, if any, training period, and some attendants will get sizable tips from customers for good service. Although many types of attendants often work at night, you should be able to find suitable options in the day if that fits better with your class schedule.

kids birthday party clown cake10. Kids Party Entertainer

Have you ever dreamed of being Captain America or Elsa from the movie “Frozen”? Do you have an outgoing and exciting personality? Most important, do you like making children laugh and smile?

If you answered yes to all three questions, then you may be well-suited to picking up some jobs as a kid’s party entertainer. These type of gigs can vary greatly based upon the size and budget of the party you’re hired to work and the age of the kids in attendance. Some parties will require you to dress up as a superhero, a princess, or some other recognizable character that kids love and want to have at their birthday or graduation party.

Drama majors should particularly excel in this type of work because it will give them an opportunity to flex their acting muscles outside of class while making some extra dough on the weekends. You may need to spend a little money on a costume and other appropriate and applicable party equipment to round out your character. However, as you get hired for more jobs, you’ll find a return on that initial investment will come around in no time!

11. Sales Representative Jobs

How are your skills of persuasion and influence? If you’re a strong speaker and have good people skills, then you could work as a sales representative for any number of companies.

It used to be you would go door to door selling your wares.  Today’s companies are looking for people who can sell over the phone or online. Some sales representatives are required to travel for their work and go to conferences, but since you’re in college you may not want to make it a full time gig but instead work from home and make phone calls and set up appointments that fit in with your class schedule.

The good news is you can make some decent cash working as a sales rep.  It’s another employment position that can get you started on a career much sooner than if you decided to wait until after graduation.

12. Teaching Assistant

If you’re interested in taking up a career in education after you leave school, or maybe you just want to earn some extra money by helping out your fellow students, you could pick up a job as a teaching assistant. You’ll be working under a teacher’s supervision to help students get the assistance and instruction they need in the classroom.

Whether you pick up a TA job at your college or seek one out at another working with younger children, this can be a rewarding job that lets you see how things are on the other side of the blackboard. If a teacher’s assistant gig is too much responsibility right now, you could pick up a job as a grader, someone who grades papers and assignments for teachers who have tremendous workloads. These types of positions are usually available for online schools and you’ll still have plenty of time to get your own homework done in between tasks.

13. Start Your Own Business

Those students who have an independent spirit, a mind for entrepreneurship, and that next great idea might consider running their own small business. It doesn’t need to be incredibly time-consuming and you could do it out of your dorm room or apartment off-campus.

This can be just about anything you wish, a product or a service, and since you are your own boss you can devote as much time to running your business as you would like.  Whatever it is you’ve decided on, just be sure you have any permits, certificates, or licenses that might be required to provide that product or service legally.  Otherwise you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to possible violations of regulations or other laws in your area.

14. Mover

Moving is no fun. Most of us try to get friends to help out when we need to move furniture and other heavy belongings.  It is almost always a great hassle to mount such a project in the first place. That’s why many folks hire moving companies to do the work.

Protecting other people’s belongings as they haul it from one location to another is a good way to build muscle, get in shape, and get paid well. Since many folks move on the weekends it won’t interfere with your class schedule, either.

15. Bank Teller

Students who have their goals set on a career in the world of finance would do well to seek out a bank teller job during their college years. It’s an entry level position that you can do part time and it will give you much needed experience in working with money on a consistent basis. You can apply at any branch and you’ll probably have to go through some background checks first.  Other than that, getting a gig as a bank teller is an easy and smart way to get hands-on training in the financial sector.

Most college campus towns have a couple of banks in the vicinity and some schools have a branch on the campus itself so you wouldn’t have to travel far to work either. The average starting salary is also competitive enough where you could still put plenty of cash in your pocket to pay your bills and cover other costs while still working part time.  This type of job will still leave you with ample time to finish your homework.

Our Final Thoughts

These are just a few ideas for college students who are thinking about picking up a job while they’re going to school. You can find many more with just a cursory search in your area or on your campus. Job postings are often available in the student union or employment offices of many colleges. If you know what you want to do with your life, now is a great time to get started on that path even if you’re still a few years from graduation.

The job market is tough out there, if you can dip your toe in the waters now you’ll be better positioned to find work once you have your degree. This is also a good way to get a feel for the career you have in mind.  It’s very possible it’s not what you thought it was going to be and you could think about changing majors now to get you ready for something else instead.

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