Ah, the broke college student trope. We see it all the time in movies, shows, and books about college, but how true are those representations? The situations conveyed in media are typically about eating 25 cent cup noodles or leftovers everyday, making $20 stretch for the week, or going to any event that offers free t-shirts, water bottles, or other goods. This trope applies to different extents based on your family’s income. Some students order delivery multiple times a week, and others attend every event on campus that advertises meals to be provided. There are students who pay full cost of attendance, and others on full rides; there are likely students in both groups that feel they need to work a part-time or full-time job for different reasons. Regardless of how much they pay in tuition or other Oberlin-related expenses, I’d say many students at Oberlin have some kind of job either for spending money or to help out with cost of attendance. I’m one of the students that has had various jobs and paid positions while on campus. I didn’t entirely understand what work-study meant or what jobs were available when I was in high school, so I’m hoping this clears up some of the confusion and mystery behind it. Without further ado, the jobs (and other paid opportunities) I’ve had as a college student so far:
- Dishwasher at Stevie: At one point, this was the highest paid position (besides student manager) that a student worker could get working with Campus Dining Services. If I remember correctly, I was limited to two 3.5 hour shifts each week since I was a first-year student. It wasn’t a bad job considering I already had some experience working in a restaurant. I knew the conditions would be a bit hot and loud, but it wasn’t particularly difficult to do, and I liked that I didn’t have to interact with many people like I would if I was a line server. I had pre-set shifts so I was able to plan around them and organize my workload so I wouldn’t have to do too much homework after my shifts. Although the dining company is now AVI, they still hire students and have some of the higher wages on campus.
- Line Server at Agave Restaurant: This was my short-lived off-campus job. Although it was fun and I wish I was able to work there longer, it closed due to COVID and never fully recovered since. Granted, there are several restaurants downtown, and several hire students. In my time at Agave, I liked that management worked with my schedule; they were open late on weekends and I was able to get in some hours since I was (obviously) not in class at 10pm on Fridays. I was able to make tips on top of regular wages, and saw many familiar faces since there were several regulars and it was the late night spot for plenty of Oberlin students. I really enjoyed working in the town and would definitely continue to do so if I wasn’t always in and out of town for different reasons.
- Blogger: This is what I do now! I’ve had this position since my first semester at Oberlin, and it has been nice to have a record of my thoughts and experiences here. I’ve grown a lot in my comfort as an author and as a student, so that aspect (on top of the whole paycheck part) is rewarding. This has been my longest running job at Oberlin and easily the most flexible. I get paid per word rather than hourly, so I don’t have to clock in or out, and I’m able to work on my own schedule. The hardest part of the job is finding the motivation to actually write each post, considering I don’t have a specific time block set aside just for writing, but it’s honestly not too hard to get in a post or two per pay period. I write when I’m procrastinating homework, when I’m between tasks or meetings and have some free time, when I’m at an airport for a few hours waiting for my connecting flight, and other pockets of time. If I could recommend a flexible job to a student it would be this one. I didn’t even think I would love it like I do when I first applied, but it’s helped me showcase my communication skills on my resume and allowed me to document my time at Oberlin. This is easily something I’m glad I get to do until I graduate.
- HIV Peer Tester: There are some groups on campus that have paid positions, and HIV Peer Testers happens to be one of them! When I first started, being a peer tester was a stipended position, but has since changed to hourly. Though there are still some positions paid with a stipend across the semester, the majority of paid positions on campus now have hourly wages. This position is a mix of administrative work, like meetings and emails, and hands-on work, like training and actual testing. Many positions like this on campus are similar in the aspect that they’re part administrative work and part hands-on work, so these work well for students who want to do a little bit of everything and get involved in student life.
- Barefoot Dialogues Facilitator: I first got involved with Barefoot Dialogues during my first year as a participant. I really liked the goal of Barefoot Dialogues and wanted to sustain its efforts, so I applied to become a facilitator for the upcoming academic year. Similar to being a peer tester, this position is part planning and part doing. I planned what texts and other pieces would be shared and discussed with participants, held dialogues with my co-facilitator for participants to partake in, and went to “leftovers” which were meetings after dialogues to talk about how these discussions felt and what we might do differently at the next dialogue. This was an hourly position, but the hours were consistent and spread across the pay period, which I appreciated. Though I do not hold this position this semester due to my academic workload, I am hoping to return in the spring.
- Psychological and Marketing Studies: While this is not technically a job, I also participated in studies for the psychology department at Oberlin and for outside firms through emails or ads I saw online. This was a way for me to make some extra money without the commitment of an extra job. The pay was different for each study, but I’ve signed up for some that have compensation between $10 and $200. The amount of time and work each study needs is different, and they might not show up consistently, so this is best as supplemental income.
- Retail (Party City): I had this job while back home in El Paso, Texas, since we were moved to remote learning when COVID hit, but it was still a valuable job to me. At the end of the day, I needed a job to help me pay for school, and working retail gave me enough hours to help build some savings for tuition and textbooks. I promise, many Obies have regular part-time jobs that can be found anywhere, so don’t fret too much if none of these positions or jobs sound appealing to you.
- SOAR Winter Term/Junior Practicum: At the end of the day, Oberlin wants its students to succeed and take all possible opportunities that they’re given. Knowing that, it’s not surprising that Oberlin gives students money (we’re talking a few thousand dollars) so they can pursue their interests and internships without the worry of not having money to look over unpaid internships or internships in different cities. Even though my Winter Term internship was remote over this past spring semester, I still received funding, so I was able to focus more on my internship and work fewer hours at my retail job. I have the option to do this again for an internship that would take place this coming summer, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s something I’ll pursue. Either way, I’m glad it’s an option that’s open to me.
There are different types of jobs and paid positions available on and off campus, such as tutoring, working in the mail room, certain OSCA positions, and more, but I tend to stick to what I’m comfortable with. Hopefully this helps demystify what different college jobs or paid opportunities there are! I have done a lot, but not everything, so there’s still more that I can learn. Here’s hoping anyone reading this doesn’t have to live the broke student life, but know there are resources if you do! Until next time, have a great Thanksgiving!
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