Should your student work a part-time job while in college?

Earlier this morning, there was a tornado watch issued, then a tornado warning. Details were posted on Wake Alert (and were emailed and texted to all members of the campus community). As with all campuswide emails, I also posted on our Family News site. Please urge your students to stay alert to safety communications throughout the day, keep their cell phones charged, etc.

In case you missed it, earlier this week there was a story on the WFU website entitled Celebrating 10 years: WFU leads career development into the next decade. It tells the story of how, since 2010, the University has invested in a unique, nationally recognized approach to career development – one that focuses on preparing students to lead authentic and meaningful lives, not just getting their first jobs. If you are not familiar with all the great work that we do helping our students move intentionally and purposefully from college to career, do give this a read.

The Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) has tons of resources to offer students. But our students have to reach out and take those opportunities. I often talk to my advisees or other students about the OPCD and liken it to being an archer with a quiver full of arrows: the more arrows you shoot, the more likely you are to hit the bulls eye. In other words, the more you as a student engage with the OPCD, the greater your chances of discerning the type of job you want and developing the skills you need to successfully land that job. I encourage students – in any year – to think about spending one hour a month doing something OPCD related.

On a related note, several weeks ago, I was talking with one of my colleagues who works with Student Employment, and she shared some facts and figures of which I had not been aware. I asked if she would send them to me so I could share with the Daily Deacdom. Here goes.

A new study from Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations found that students who work a part-time job while in college earn higher salaries afterwards. Their findings suggest that employers pay a wage premium for three things: earning college credits; completing a degree; and a record of sustained work experience while in college. Undergraduates who both work during college and complete a degree gain the most in terms of a post-college earnings advantage.

Studies from the Bureau of Statistics have shown that undergraduate students who work part-time in college (up to 20 hours per week) have higher GPAs than students who don’t work at all. Students attributed this to learning to become more organized and manage their time.

If your student wants to work while at Wake, they can find jobs on campus for five hours or less a week – which will ensure they still have time for studying and other activities.

Whether or not the job is directly related to their major or desired career path, just about any job can provide students with transferable skills. These skills and experiences can be highlighted on resumes and in interviews to demonstrate to future employers their breadth of experience.

If your student is interested in finding a job on campus, their first step should be to check Handshake to see the available on-campus job offerings. Departmental supervisors will begin posting jobs in Handshake in June, and students will be able to apply at any time.

I found this really fascinating and surprising at once. I had – perhaps wrongly – assumed that having a part-time job might detract from one’s studies or hurt one’s GPA, and yet the research says otherwise. But this is great food for thought in case your Deac is wondering about seeking a part time job.


— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

Categories: the daily deac