Financial Difficulties: Earning Money

Working to pay your bills has value as long as it does not interfere with your academic success or the balance of your personal life. On one hand, work can help you learn time-management skills and provide practical experience, tuition money, and spending money. On the other hand, it becomes destructive if it makes you miss class, skip assignments, or lose touch with campus life. Plan to work during breaks to build up savings ahead of time—you'll have more free time during the semester to concentrate on your studies.

  • Create a time budget to help you balance a job with your academics and social life.
  • Assess your skills honestly, including your academic interests, hobbies, and previous work. What experiences have you already had? Do you know how to operate a cash register? Work at a reception desk? Feed animals? Wait tables?
  • Prepare a resume so that you can present yourself effectively and to organize the information you may need when filling out a job application (e.g., past work history, references, etc.).
  • If you qualify for Federal Work-Study, check the Work-Study Job Search application in eLion to find work-study positions on campus.
  • If you do not qualify for Federal Work-Study, you could still work on campus. The University needs students for a variety of jobs in the library, computer labs, dining halls, and more. Check the wage-payroll listing from the Office of Student Aid as well as with individual departments and offices.
  • If you would enjoy working with other students and if your campus offers on-campus housing, consider applying to become a resident assistant (RA).
  • Check with your college or major department for paid internship opportunities. Some internships require that you be in the major or complete certain courses before you can apply.
  • Paid research positions are available to undergraduates regardless of major.
  • Look around town for off-campus jobs. Consider not only the money you will make, but also transportation, flexibility of hours, relevance to your future plans, and the potential stress level of the workplace.
  • When you accept a job, be sure you understand the conditions: expected hours, benefits (if any), safety issues, costs for things such as job-related clothing and equipment, etc. Remember that your education is your first priority, and some off-campus employers may be less flexible.
  • For jobs near the University Park campus, check the classified ads in the Collegian and the Centre Daily Times. For jobs near other campuses, check the local newspapers.
  • For help in finding summer jobs, check Camp Staff, idealist.org (Action Without Borders), SummerJobs.com, the National Park Service, and Web search engines. If you want to work near your home during the summer, check the classified ads in your local newspapers before you go home for the summer (many local papers are also available in the University Libraries).