Get a job!
Socialist leanings aside, I think money's pretty neat. I like having it, and I like exchanging it for goods and services. Al Capone, that most storied entrepreneur and businessman, once said that capitalism "gives each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it." He seized with more than just both hands, but hey, it's a nice rhetorical flourish. When I arrived here freshman year my very first priority was to find a job; I anticipated something relatively unappealing, like working the dish room. What I learned was that, first, working in the dish room earns a higher wage than most other jobs and is thus not unappealing at all, and second, that there are innumerable campus jobs which are interesting, fun, and--perhaps most important--beneficial from a pre-professional standpoint. I have been extremely fortunate to find three jobs which fit into that latter category; they keep me busy, they fill my refrigerator with food, and, depending on the application, I can place them at the top of my resume.
I came across these jobs in different ways, which I think will help illustrate the manifold methods of finding employment on campus. The first job I got here was as a dance accompanist; my advisor for my first two years here was a dance professor, and when I mentioned that I played drums and piano he set me up with a job. Pure happenstance, and not a job I would have sought out on my own, but it's proven to be a complete joy. I get paid to play music for 3-4 hours a week for dancers of all levels. As a drummer, playing for dancers is especially beneficial, since you get immediate visual feedback as to whether you're playing a part well. Do people look lost? That's probably my fault. Is someone completely immersed in the dance combination they're working on? That might be my doing, too. As an art form, I must confess that I have never been particularly interested in or enraptured by dance, but through my time spent working for the dance department I feel like I've come to better understand and, consequently, appreciate it.
My second job, which I also acquired freshmen year, is working for The Grape, Oberlin's alternative newspaper. I saw a flyer for a general interest meeting, and showed up expecting to contribute as a writer; I had worked as the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper for two years, and considered journalism as a possible career. They had an open editor position, and so I filled out my application and was hired to edit a section of the paper.
I'm now working as editor-in-chief, which is time-consuming but rewarding work. And these editor positions, like the ones at The Review and some (but not all) other campus publications, are paid positions. I can't speak for our colleagues across the hall, but Grape staff most certainly put in more hours of work than they get paid for, so I wouldn't offer up a newspaper position as a particularly lucrative job. (From what I gather, this regrettably holds true in the real world as well.) Nevertheless, this is a strong resume item to have and, of greater import, has been a near-constant pleasure and a defining part of my college experience.
Lastly, this blog constitutes a student job. I don't think I need to explain how cool it is to get paid to write about my life here at Oberlin. I found out about the blog job through Blackboard, which is Oberlin's internal website for students, faculty, and community members. There's an extensive classifieds section on Blackboard; job listings are plentiful, as are advertisements for textbooks, transportation, and so on. A sampling of the 63 job listings currently on Blackboard: freelance photographer for the Communications department; French tutor; editorial assistants for the Oberlin Alumni Magazine; Campus Dining Services; math tutor; Audio/Visual technician; overnight host for prospective student visits; and, my personal favorite, teaching my friend Josiah how to drive a car.
Despite what I recall as a particularly terrible job interview with Jesse ("Err, uhm, Oberlin is, like, pretty neat, so, uhhhh..." Really articulate! Great blog candidate!), I was one of the first wave of bloggers hired on and have been doing this for about 18 months now. Like The Grape, it's a great resume item for anyone interested in journalism, communications, et cetera. And I can't begin to describe how rewarding it is to meet freshmen who at the very least have read these blogs and, at the very most, considered them an influencing factor in their decision to come to Oberlin. All in a day's work, I suppose, but what a day.