Is a Student Job Worth The Hassle?

Let’s face it, books, food, and other essentials of student life don’t come cheap. Not everyone has the means to stay supported during all four (or more) years of college either. As a result, many students turn to some type of work, maybe even more than you think.

According to U.S. Department of Education, over 78% of undergraduate students work. This number has been consistent for over a decade, and don’t expect it to change the cost of college tuition goes up.

Of course, most students must prioritize their education despite the high costs. This begs the question, is a job really worth it?

Busy student employees

Why Do You Need A Job?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to think about reasons you want to work. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that your financial situation isn’t so dire that you are forced to work, but isn’t comfortable enough that it would be a waste. What are your motivations?

  • Maybe you want to simply reduce the amount of money you have to borrow while you are in school. This is prudent, but it’s not likely you’ll be able to do this with a job alone.
  • Maybe you just want spending money, which is something any college student could use.
  • Maybe the money is secondary. You want work experience to demonstrate to future employers that you are dedicated and can multitask.

There are a lot of different reasons to go into the workforce as a student, but it’s unlikely that this job will be the one you stay with forever. As a result, you want to find a job that will have some other tangible rewards.  Sometimes, it’s a decent wage for the amount of time you put in. Other times, it is skills that you will be able to put to work for your future career.

A job with a typically young and dynamic company, such as a marketing agency, could help with both. Marketing jobs not only provide pay commensurate with your work, but the chance to improve your intrapersonal and communication skills. These are valuable at literally any stage or path of your career.

Hitting the Work-Life Balance

In some ways, balancing work and studies can actually be a benefit to you, if you are prepared to handle it. If you approach this with a formal plan, you may be able to cut down

For example, Vector Marketing offers work for students. It’s one thing to try and go into a prolonged job search in a field where students aren’t an ideal candidate. However, jobs like those offered at Vector marketing make for a perfect match for students, who often have different scheduling needs than the rest of the workforce.

Here are some other examples:

  • Massage Therapist
  • Dental Receptionist
  • Nanny
  • Bookkeeper
  • Orderly
  • Bank Teller
  • Tax Preparer
  • Tutor

Sometimes, there may be a barrier to entry with some of these, like a certification, but the main advantage they are flexible enough to accommodate a student’s schedule, which is probably the most difficult part of melding a job with your studies.

photo credit: City Year / Flickr

Choosing the Right Job

At this point, you may have started to narrow things down a bit, maybe to a couple of paths or even a couple of companies. Don’t be afraid to lean on other resources while you search as well.

For example, just about any college in the country has a career development office. These may be able to help you find some jobs with a history of hiring students. Without this, you may find yourself in a situation where you have a boss or manager who isn’t willing to accommodate tests, study time, and extracurricular activities.

Not every job falls into this category, though. A student-friendly job would remove a bit of this headache. People here are used to the unique caveats of a student worker, and can help you still earn money and be a good student. The alternative is the two sides clashing. Sometimes this is inevitable, but it is important that you find an employer who understands your commitments rather than forces you to work around them.


Ultimately, a student job is what you make of it. Sometimes, you can use it to set the foundation for your career after school. Sometimes, you may end up having to leave it or reduce it to make room for more hours.

As a student, your best asset is your ability to research. Don’t leap to the first posting you see—think about what matters to you for a job and how it can benefit you, in the short and long-term.