Making your on-campus job work for you

Working on campus is a fantastic opportunity to get some professional experience and build your resume. You don’t need to commute anywhere to get to your job, making it easier to juggle your employment with academic and extracurricular obligations. It’s also a  great way to make connections with staff and peers, and learn about resources that might prove valuable to you. Below are some tips to make the most of your job on campus:

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1) Talk to your supervisor about expectations

As you start working in your new job, schedule a time to sit down with your supervisor and get to know their expectations for you. Is there a set schedule or do you have some flexibility setting your hours? What does a task well done look like? What is the best way to communicate and get feedback? These are just some of the questions you might want to discuss with your supervisor during the first days on the job. Having a clear understanding of the rules and expectations sets you up for success in your position. It also shows that you are taking the job seriously and your supervisor can rely on you to do things correctly. Make sure you keep this conversation going over time as new questions come up or you start to tackle new projects.

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2) Get to know other people in the department

The more you can learn about the department, the better. Getting to know other staff members and their positions will help you get a better understanding of the department culture and how your role fits into the bigger picture. This is also a great opportunity for you to build your network. Maybe someone has worked in the field you want to go into or they lived in a city you want to move to after college. You never know what you might learn, so start networking within your department.

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3) Reflect on your experience

Your on-campus job might not directly relate to your major or future career goals, but that does not mean you are not gaining valuable skills! No matter what field you go into after graduation, you will need transferable skills such as communication, team work, time management, etc., to be successful. Take a few minutes to reflect on how are you developing these skills in your position on campus. Are you honing your customer service skills while helping patrons at the library? Are you stepping up as a role model and leader by giving tours to prospective students and their parents? Did you use your problem-solving skills to tackle tech issues as part of the AV crew? These are all fantastic skills to put on your resume when you are applying for summer internships or your first job after college. If you are not sure how to highlight your skills and want to brainstorm with someone, log into Handshake and schedule an appointment with a career coach. We are happy to help.

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4) Ask for a reference

On-campus employment is great way to get a professional reference for future job and internship applications. Set your best foot forward while at work, take initiative to offer help with new tasks and your supervisor will be happy to give you a stellar recommendation. Just make sure to ask them first if they are willing to serve as a reference and give them a heads up when they should expect a call from an employer. If you need a written letter of recommendation, please give you supervisor at least two weeks’ notice so they have enough time to write a letter that highlights your skills and qualifications.

These tips are just starting points to be successful in your on-campus job. How will you make the most of your experience?

By Lea Staedtler
Lea Staedtler Associate Director of Career Education and Student Employment Lea Staedtler