By Bella Guerrero
Tanner Rowlands, a fourth-year public relations student at the University of Georgia, works part-time at Athens Health and Fitness, which makes him one of the many employed undergraduate students, according to recent education statistics.
Having a job in college can mean difficulties for some, but Rowlands said he manages the challenges of both working and studying.
“It can sometimes get overwhelming whenever I have a lot of assignments or multiple exams coming up,” he said. “Most of the time though, I’m able to juggle it by just structuring my time to make sure that I am using the time I have available in the best way.”
Rowlands has held his position as marketing director and sales consultant for 2 years and said his employer understands his dedication to school and future. He said he is given a lot of flexibility with his schedule due to his student obligations.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40% of full-time undergraduate students were employed in 2020. The percentage of full-time undergraduate students who were employed was three percentage points lower in 2020 than in 2015.
The perfect part-time job can vary for students, but experience in the workforce can help students build a portfolio and provide experience in a desired industry. Although Rowlands has an off-campus job, one expert in student employment suggested considering on-campus employment as a first option.
Samantha Meyer, director of experiential learning at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, recommended students take advantage of on campus employment opportunities because they better understand the rigorous requirements of school.
Meyer said school should be a priority for students, but recognized that hardships and other financial issues can make working a necessity. In those cases, Meyer said schedule flexibility, pay and overall time demands of a job are some of the factors students looking for part-time jobs must consider in relation to their course load. She said students should always try to minimize academic risks when deciding on part-time work.
Meyer said she favors students seeking work in industries relevant to their major if possible. To build a resume Meyer said, “part-time jobs, part-time internships are usually the starting point of what I recommend.”
Rowlands, who is in his last year of undergraduate studies, said he is preparing for his future after graduation. Balancing school, work obligations and social life can be challenging, he said, but added that he believes his part-time job is preparing him for his future career.
He said his role constantly puts him in different situations with different types of people, which he said his good preparation for the career challenges that he will face in the future.
Meyer said she occasionally sees students struggle finding post-baccalaureate jobs when they did not have a job or internship in college. If a job is not possible, she said involvement in student organizations is also a great way to build a resume.
Meyer also reminded students that the pandemic has altered the way many employers interview, explaining there has been an increase in online interviews. The UGA career center provides students with preparation services such as reviewing resumes and conducting mock interviews, according to its website.
Regardless of interview type, Meyer encouraged students to research the employer before the interview. Using resources available through campus career centers provides students an advantage when navigating the interview process, she said.
Bella Guerrero is a journalism student at the University of Georgia.