Oh, the struggle of finding the perfect part-time job in college. You know it’s great to get experience in a professional environment, and you could use the extra cash to support that daily coffee habit. But you also need a gig that offers flexibility and convenience—and you’re not the only one. Finding a job in an environment where hundreds—even thousands—of other students are clamoring for the same work as you can be totally intimidating. How can you possibly find a job that’s both open and the right fit for you?
Amanda Nell, senior student service coordinator at the University of Missouri’s Career Center, says to start by scanning your school’s digital job board shortly before classes begin. Both on-campus and local recruiters know this is prime-time for hiring and will be on the lookout. When you’re searching, it’s important to really know what you’re trying to get from the part-time position. “Think about your career goals, and try to match your talents with the work you choose,” she says. “Any job can help you advance your skills, but you should try to be thoughtful and intentional in looking for the best job for you.”
Still not sure where to begin? When you’re scrolling through that digital job board or attending the back-to-school part-time job fair, keep your eyes peeled for these five positions. They’re voted by Levo as part-time gigs that are super-accessible, boast exciting perks, and just might help you develop skills that you can carry into your future career.
1. Bookstore Salesperson
OK, so maybe you’ve shied away from retail ever since you had that job at Abercrombie Kids in high school (*shudder*), but working at your university’s bookstore can result in some super rewarding perks—like much-needed textbook discounts. And if you’re thinking about going into sales or any other career that requires strong customer service skills, this is the perfect job for you.
A real student says: “I began working at The Mizzou Store my freshman year, and it’s been a great experience. I work in the customer service department and help deal with the many issues that other departments and customers face. I started at a little bit above state minimum wage, and I get a raise every year. The scheduling is very flexible and having student supervisors is also nice. I get 30 percent off regularly priced items in the store—and I get 40 percent off at Christmas—and also receive a textbook scholarship that covers up to 75 percent of my textbook costs each semester.” —Keeley, University of Missouri
Perfect if you want: Mad discounts, experience in customer service
2. Desk Attendant
This is another job for those with customer service chops—although it’s perhaps a less intense one. Whether you’re manning the desk at the school registrar’s office, a local leasing office, or the library, you’ll likely have a little free time to get some other things done (once you’ve attended to any and all patrons and you’ve completed your assigned tasks, of course).
A real student says: “I work in my school library’s microform reading room, which is where people go to look at film rolls that have pictures of print pages on them. I’m paid the school minimum wage, but it’s pretty flexible—there’s a large group of students who work the desk and they jump at the opportunity to pick up other people’s shifts. I also get a good amount of time to work on homework while I’m on the clock.” —Sarah, Yale University
Perfect if you want: To improve your people skills, extra time to work on homework
3. Dining Hall Worker
So you’ve got a crazy-complicated class schedule this semester, but you’re in dire need of a part-time job. Ever considered a job with campus dining services? It might not be glamorous, but most campus dining halls are very willing to work around your other commitments and will supply you with free or discounted meals. You’ll also bond with your coworkers over serving up burgers to a long line of hungry freshmen.
A real student says: “One of the many perks of working for Campus Dining over other part-time jobs is scheduling predictability. I work the same schedule every week without worrying about losing hours or working too many hours from week to week, and I work when it’s best for my schedule. As a nursing student entering my third semester of clinical rotations, that means I don’t have to be stressed trying to balance classes and work. I also work with some wonderful individuals who have made working for Campus Dining a wonderful experience.” —Preston, University of Missouri
Perfect if you want: A structured schedule, discounted meals
4. Campus Tour Guide
Calling all those who bleed their school colors: a gig as a campus tour guide is right up your alley. Not only do you get to learn new and exciting things about your school and share them with potential students-to-be, but you get a regular opportunity to hone your performance and public speaking skills—and, you know, become a total pro at walking backwards.
A real student says: “Being a campus tour guide has been a great experience for me. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about my campus. I’ve learned to memorize—and then value—interesting tidbits of information about different parts of my school, about everything from architecture to interesting course material. I also get a weekly chance to perform and use my public speaking and comedic skills. There’s always a different audience in the crowd, so some jokes work and some jokes don’t. But most importantly, if this week’s tour wasn’t as great as last week, there’s always my next tour.” —Douglass, Amherst College
Perfect if you want: To learn more about your school, to improve your public speaking skills
5. Freelance Worker
If you’re looking for a way to develop skills that will directly apply to your future career, there are likely plenty of intern-like positions on campus in any and all departments that relate to your area of interest—but they also can fill up quickly and often require you put in lots of hours during the workday. Another option? Offering your services on a project-by-project basis. Whether you’re a social media guru or an event planning pro, you have a particular skill set that other people need—so give it to them!
A real student says: “Last semester, I had a professor who forwarded an email out to the class from a university PR person saying she needed someone to design an ad for the school. I sent an email to her right away offering my services, and I got the job! That first project ended up leading to more, because she liked my work and referred me to other university employees who needed some design work done. Finding work is a little more unpredictable with this job, but the pay is great because instead of just being paid an hourly wage, I’m getting paid for what my work is worth to the person who needs it. I have really flexible hours because I can work on projects in my free time, and I’m showcasing my skill set and getting practical experience for my future career.” —David, University of Missouri
Perfect if you want: Super flexible hours, experience that directly applies to your dream job
Photo: M_a_y_a / Getty Images