Jobs for Graduate Students

The truth hurts: if you are in graduate school, you are likely accruing debt by simply existing – while reading this or eating a grilled cheese sandwich over lunch. The image of the poor graduate student is no joke. It is reality. You got into graduate school and you have decided to put in the work for that graduate degree. But now, you realize that you need money. You also need some experience. And money. You need money. Time to get a(nother?) job!

If you can find (or make) time to put in some extra work hours, you can ease your money woes a bit. So, here are some ideas. Some jobs pay better than others, and you may find a better option based on personality and circumstances. Perhaps you would find it easier to work in an academic setting. If you would like to take a break from the intellectual rigor, there are some of those options, too.

1. Graduate assistantships

Check with your graduate school office for available graduate assistantships. Schools offer several types of assistantships, so you can choose which best aligns with your personality and career goals. Different types include teaching, research, and lab assistantships. Typically, assistantships have credit hour requirements and, if granted, limitations on how much you can take on with your assignment. Many colleges offer quarter-, half-, and full-time positions, with tuition waiver and stipends adjusted accordingly.

2.Become an on-campus tutor

Look for opportunities through the academic resource, business, and writing centers on campus. University student help centers hire graduate students to tutor undergraduates. Some colleges may only allow undergraduates to work with students in the required English Composition classes, while the graduate students assist more advanced classes. For example, creative writing graduate students could work in the writing center, editing student papers and giving feedback on writing style. Tutoring is a particularly valuable experience if you plan to go into academia; it can act as another way to show your involvement and hone your skills.

3. Tutoring and teaching graduate exams

Everyone takes graduate exams to get into graduate school. If you scored well, you could teach the exams for a decent wage. You could begin tutoring students one-on-one on your own by posting flyers and getting the word out. If you are dynamic, another option is to apply to teach classes with a test preparation company, such as Kaplan, Sylvan, Manhattan Prep, or Princeton Review. Companies have varying score requirements, so check around to see what is the best option for you. For example, Kaplan will take 90th percentile scores. Others, such as Manhattan Prep, accept only applicants who scored in the 99th percentile. Expect the companies that require higher scores to offer higher salaries as well. The ability to teach multiple tests will make you even more of an asset. If you have an interest or background in teaching, this could be a good opportunity for you to practice your skill.

4. Freelance and use your skills

If you decided to go to graduate school after a few years working in the “real world,” you likely have a skill that can earn you income. You also may have a connection to get you started. For example, writing skills can be used for freelance pieces or grants. Are you a coding expert? Are you great at creating websites or managing social media? There are options abound for you to apply your skills.

5. Become a brand ambassador

Many brands look for ambassadors to represent them on college campuses or at community events. You could also become a street promoter at special events if you have a friendly personality. Marketing experience can help get you the job.

6. Positions on campus

There are numerous opportunities to work in the many different departments at your university. In addition to working within your department of study, you could find a job with the alumni office, career center, or housing. The campus transportation service hires bus drivers; a lot of bus drivers are also students, so your work schedule will accommodate your school schedule.

7. Night-time gigs

Working at night can be difficult to balance with the demands of graduate school, but you can make some good money. For example, working at a nice hotel overnight at the front desk could be a great part-time job. Security guard is another option. Sometimes you can get an easy desk job and perhaps even study during your shift.

8. Use your talents

If you have any niche hobbies or talents, you could use them to make some extra cash. Ballroom dance instructors’ rates can vary, but you can often make $50 an hour per private lesson, minus the floor rent. That means you could have a $40 per hour job on your hands, plus you get to do something you love. If you are athletic, you could become a personal trainer or group fitness instructor. Not a bad way to make some cash, get some exercise in, and give you better life balance.

9. Look around town

Local opportunities, whether a small retail business or a restaurant, are also options for employment.

This list is a great place to start if you are a graduate student looking for a job. You can also check out this undergraduate list for some more ideas! When all else fails, look to the career center to help you find a job. Graduate students can often look on the “Careers” section on the main university site for the best opportunities. Pick a route and get looking!

How to Reach Out to Volunteer

Reaching out to a volunteer coordinator can be scary if you have never done it before. Many college students get nervous about the idea of contacting a stranger. The good news is that there is a simple solution: planning. Ask yourself: How will you contact this person?, and go from there.

If you connect via a phone call, plan out what you want to say. Getting the basics down on a piece of paper for reference can help with the nervousness. Before calling, check the website to make sure that you are calling the right person, have the correct number, and know their name. Find out exactly who you will be speaking with, as this goes a long way.

If you prefer email, keep it short and state your name, a bit about yourself, and your purpose to make sure you get a response back. You are probably emailing a busy person, so short and purposeful writing is appreciated. If you need help with drafting a professional, business-like email, search the web for example templates. In the subject line, you may want to state your first and last names before a more generic topic, such as “Volunteer Opportunity Inquiry.”

So your subject line instead would read: “John Doe- Volunteer Opportunity Inquiry.”

This is helpful for volunteer coordinators because, at many places, they receive emails from people wanting to volunteer on a daily basis. Identifying yourself in the subject line makes it less likely that your email will get lost or confused with someone else’s similar inquiry.

The hardest part of reaching out is getting the confidence to just do it. If you truly want to get involved, you will take the initiative and make the contact. Remember that organizations are grateful for volunteer involvement and you will be able to breath a little easier as you step out of your routine to reach out to that contact.

The Importance of Volunteering in College

Whether it is reaching out to your community or that do-good feeling, there are multiple benefits to volunteering. As you prepare for your career, volunteering can be a valuable resource for exploring an area of interest, or a good way to step out of your comfort zone.

You have decided that you would like to get involved, but you are not sure how to find service opportunities. Well, you have a few options…

 

Volunteer sites:

Sites like volunteermatch.org compile postings for volunteer opportunities in your area. You can create an account and sign up for opportunities through the site. Colleges often have similar databases where you can not only sign up for volunteer positions, but also log your hours. A print out of your logged hours can come in handy for any situation where you need to prove your level of involvement, particularly if it is a future employer.

 

Web search:

Look around for volunteer opportunities by doing a Google search for your city. Researching nonprofits in your area can also be helpful because nonprofits are always looking for and appreciative of volunteers.

Sometimes, finding the opportunities is easy. The next challenge? Making the most of your time. Here are some other ways that you can make volunteering a learning experience that works for you:

 

Opportunity to explore career options

Use volunteering as a trial period for your career interests. This gives you an idea of what to expect from a potential career area or environment. Investigate a certain type of environment and discover the realities of a job by choosing a service opportunity that follows your interests. Maybe you would find that you were right about your career goals. Or maybe you would end up rethinking your career choice as you see the career from a different angle. For example, someone who wants to become a librarian because they would like a nice, quiet job that requires minimum interaction with people could greatly benefit from volunteering for a public library. They would discover something unexpected: librarians constantly work with people and technology, providing customer service and assistance whenever needed. After talking more with the librarians about the pros and cons of their jobs, they may decide that perhaps becoming a librarian is not for them. Finding this out sooner rather than later could save a lot of time and headaches. Volunteering and exposing yourself to an environment can help you gain self-awareness to make better decisions in the future.

 

Make connections

Reaching out to individuals and organizations in the community is great for building your network. Supervisors that you forge a relationship with and volunteer for can become great references in the future. If you plan on going into the non-profit sector in particular, realize that the organization could become your future workplace after college. Volunteering your time with an organization could turn into a future job if there is an opening at the appropriate moment. If you already have a good relationship, then you could be an easy fit. Additionally, by volunteering for one non-profit, you could look very good to a future employer that is also in the same sector. At the very least, you could meet some new people and make friends.

 

Build some confidence

Reaching out to strangers can be intimidating, especially for shy types. Perhaps making an inquiry and contacting someone you do not know is a new experience for you. Yes, it can be nerve-racking to put yourself out there and ask to volunteer. However, remember that organizations are grateful for help and that your initiative should be greeted with positive enthusiasm.

On another note, working diligently at this service opportunity will increase your comfort level with the type of work you are doing. Hopefully, you can come away with some great skills…

 

Build skills that are valuable

Often, regular volunteer commitments will count as experience. If you are learning new skills during your service, this is particularly valuable, as you can talk about this in an interview.

 

Give yourself a break

Participating in service activities offer a chance to get away from schoolwork and do something new and meaningful. Aside from being beneficial professionally, there are emotional benefits abound, and you could find volunteering therapeutic.

 

And of course, the obvious:

Volunteering builds your resume!

We all know that volunteering in college does the resume good. It can help fill in any gaps on your resume. A volunteer experience can also show others what you care about. Volunteer experiences are great talking points for a future job interview. Employers will be interested in how you spend your time away from school, and where you volunteer can say a lot about your focus and personality. Some employers like to see that you are self-motivated and take your own initiative. Others like to see that you are well rounded and consider volunteer experiences a good indicator. That being said, volunteer experience is always considered an asset to your education and skill development. So get out there and go for it!

Simple Guidelines to Ensure Success in Class

Showing up is only part of college. Yet sometimes you have to take a class that always seems to drag. Luckily, there are some simple ways to become more interested in the subject and getting the most out of every college class, because, hey, you are paying to be there! Get your money’s worth with some of these tips:

 

Read the syllabus

It may go without saying that professors appreciate students who know what is going on in their class. Simply reading the syllabus and writing down assignments can keep you informed.

 

Know and follow the class rules

Some professors have their quirks. If your teacher has a late policy, try your best to honor it. Increasingly, professors are turning to harsher cell phone policies as well; you could be asked to leave class, no negotiation, if your phone goes off during a lecture. Not only would you miss out on that day of notes, but also give your professor something negative to remember you for. It pays off to follow the rules. Imagine if one of your professors waived final exams (i.e. 100%) for students who had perfect attendance and came to class engaged! Abiding by that policy could seriously benefit you.

 

Sit up front

Sit in the first row of the class to keep yourself accountable for your attendance and attention. The professor will notice when you are not there and if you are, whether or not you are engaged with the lecture. This helps you stay alert and take better notes.

If you are not interested in the subject, try leaning forward. Not only do you appear more engaged through body language, but also may actually become interested by pretending to be. Hopefully, your mind will mimic your body and you will be able to get through the lecture gracefully.

 

Ask questions

You have heard it before: If you do not understand, ask. If you want to know more, ask. No need to be embarrassed. Really. And if you need help, please ask for it sooner rather than later. It will save you stress later when you are studying for exams. Added bonus: you will score points with the professor by showing that you have been actively listening to lectures.

 

Interact with your professor

Participate in the classroom conversation, ask questions, visit during office hours, and communicate via email to get to know your professor. You will likely get more out of your education this way. Plus, should you ever need a letter of recommendation, you will have a good option in a professor you made an effort to interact with.

Your Professor as a Professional Resource

Despite the stereotypical image of academics as lofty intellectuals with minimal social abilities, many professors can be vital resources for discovering what is out in the professional world.

Yes, some professors may be immersed solely in their field studies; however, plenty of them have alternate experience and connections. At the very least, their take on their careers and academia could provide a new perspective.

Visiting your professor during office hours could turn into a good relationship. Better yet, you could gain a mentor who could write a reference or put you in touch with a contact. If you are pursuing an English degree, for example, there are alternate career routes to take after graduation. (You do not have to become a teacher, as everyone will likely suggest!) Asking about their job as a college professor is a positive starting point as it brings up a conversation about the actual subject and different angles of applying the degree. Options for an English major could include archival studies, publishing, editing, grant writing, fundraising, and, yes, teaching.

Other degrees, such as engineering or architecture, have straighter career paths. Although there are plenty of exceptions, most who earn a degree in engineering or architecture plan on becoming engineers or architects. It is also likely that an architecture professor would have a working history and alternate experience under their belts, so they could be a vital resource. A student could learn valuable tips about the professional architectural world and best practices in looking for a job (it could vary by firm).

Whatever your major, reaching out to a professor in your area of study is bound to be beneficial. Not only will you increase your chances of success in the classroom, but also gain some knowledge about professions you could pursue.

Also, check out other ways to learn about different occupations here.

On-Campus Jobs for College Students

These days, the reality is that most college students have part-time jobs to pay the bills and maybe earn a little extra cash. However, working around a crazy class schedule can be tricky. One of the best ways to accommodate your schedule could be to work on your college campus. You could get in a few hours between classes, make some money, build your resume, and reduce the stress of getting to a job on time.

Tutoring

Stop by the learning center at your college to apply for a peer-tutoring position. Typically, there is a high demand for math and science tutors. So if you are a chemistry whiz or a statistics buff, this is a great place to look for a flexible source of income. Do not fret, English majors! There are also chances for students of the arts and humanities to tutor on campus. Colleges often have writing centers that offer help with writing and editing papers in any subject. Not only does tutoring others help you expertly master content in your area of study, but also allows

Resident Assistant

Living on campus can have its perks, and becoming a resident assistant in one of the dorms is often the most lucrative position on campus. A resident assistant (RA) typically receives a scholarship covering room and board. This could shave $10,000+ off your yearly bill! Case in point: when the university waives the costs of food and living arrangements, it can significantly lighten your financial burden. If you like the idea of leading your peers and helping others adjust to college life, this could be a good fit.

Dining Services

You could work for campus food services in the dining hall or at other locations on campus such as Starbucks, Einstein’s, or Jamba Juice. It may not be glamorous, but it pays, and you will likely get free meals or discounts.

Fitness Center

If you are interested in sports and staying fit, working at the campus gym could be fun. If you study kinesiology, this would also be right up your alley. It would be convenient for your workouts, too! You can work within the fitness center at the front desk, as an attendant, or in another athletic-related position.

Those who can mediate conflict and handle intense situations should look into becoming a referee. Intramural sports leagues usually advertise open positions and provide training for the referees to prepare for the games. Games are played in the evening, so fitting hours into your school schedule could be a little easier. Another plus: referees typically earn a bit more than someone working as a fitness attendant.

Work-Study

If you qualify, you can find a federal work-study position through your university. Jobs could include working as a computer lab monitor, administrative assistant, or in the library. In front desk positions, you could be allowed to do homework while you hold down the fort. Sounds like a good deal!

Campus Publications and Broadcasting

Yearbook, newspaper, and the university television station are great ways to get experience in your field. Yearbooks and newspapers typically compensate per piece. If you like writing, editing, filming, or photography, these outlets will be fun and educational. If you start early, you could work your way up to editor-in-chief!

Another lesser-known employment option is your college radio station. NPR, anyone?! Due to low budgets, there are often only volunteer positions available at on-campus, student-run radio stations. However, if your university has a National Public Radio-affiliated station, you can likely get paid – or at least score an unpaid internship.

Go Greek

Look within your own fraternity or sorority for a position, such as serving as head of communications. Some paid opportunities could be found within the House or with the campus PanHellenic Council.

 

Depending on your university, there could be numerous other opportunities for employment. If working on campus does not appeal to you, visit the career office for other options or apply elsewhere. Whichever route you go for finding a part-time job, you will still be making that much-needed cash. Consult your student career website, which compiles job and internship postings for students to apply to directly from the site, to find opportunities that fit your skillset.

Professional Resources at Your College

Discover what resources your college offers and take advantage of the services or opportunities that work best for you. A few resources are listed below:

1. Visit your college career center

You pay for services like the career office and writing center through fees tacked onto your bill, so why not use them as much as possible? Career offices give feedback on resumes, CVs, and cover letters, conduct mock interviews, and provide advice on networking, including technology on LinkedIn. If you need help finding summer and semester internships or a full-time job after graduation, this is the place to go. Many colleges have a website dedicated to students looking for employment that includes internship and job postings. Career advisers focus on helping you put that hard-earned, and often expensive, degree to good use. Schedule an appointment or visit during the walk-in period. Before your appointment, check out the career office website, as these sites often include cover letter and resume templates that can help get you started. Then, when you go in for your review, you can get more out of your session. Career centers also compile job postings on their websites. Sign into your student account and get looking!

2. Get to know your professors

Go to office hours. Whether it is striking up intellectual conversations, talking about papers, or getting help on homework, interacting with your professor one-on-one has numerous benefits. For example, engaging with your professor could very likely result in a better grade from your increased effort in the class. A professor that acts as a mentor could suggest career paths that use similar skills or recommend you to an internship program. It may depend on the discipline (and the teacher), but some professors have work experience outside of academia. Even those that do not often have connections in similar fields that you could be interested in.

If you feel shy about meeting with your professor, keep in mind that your teachers are eager to see you succeed and they are there to help. Choosing a thesis director or finding a future reference will be much easier if you have been keeping up relationships as well.

3. Join the Student Alumni Association

One of the best ways to meet and network with alumni of your university is to join the Student Alumni Association and work closely with the Alumni Association. Through the Student Alumni Association you can volunteer or get involved with organizing events with other students and alumni. Student members can also attend the alumni meetings. Events organized by your alumni association could include back to school kick-offs in your hometown, invitations to watch sports games as an alumni group, tailgating, and meet-and-greets around your college town. It sounds like fun, but it is also a great opportunity to get out there and make connections.

Other opportunities to meet alumni exist through departments and colleges within the university, as many often have networking opportunities and alumni speakers specific to the field of study.