Finding Work as an Undergraduate

Working while studying is sometimes hard, but if you can find the right opportunity it’s a great way to make your undergraduate years better. I was lucky enough to find a job related to my major before Covid hit, but even now there are opportunities out there. But how do you go about finding them? Here is some advice, from a girl who’s been there!

Tip 1: Use Your Network

This tip is the simplest for finding a job, but also one of the most important. If you look at the career of any successful person, they will tell you that the key to their success was their network. Your network is a group of people that you know, either directly or indirectly, who can help you in your career.

Personally, as an industrial engineering student I wanted a job in manufacturing or construction. I looked at a software company working on fluid simulations, a rotating brush hose start-up, and eventually was offered a spot at Barton Malow. How did I finally get the job? By reaching out to a professor of mine, who knew someone in the industry and was willing to vouch for me.

Even before you start college, you should start developing your network by joining clubs and extracurriculars, and attending career fairs and events at your school. This is where you will start to meet the people that will be able to help you when you are in college.

Tip 2: Get Involved

When you are in college, it’s a good idea to get involved with your department. By getting involved, you get to know people in your department who will be able to help you out when the time comes. There are a few different ways you can get involved:

  • Join a student organization
  • Volunteer for an event
  • Go to departmental events
  • Get to know your professors

By getting involved with your department, you will meet a lot of people who can help you out later on in your career.

Tip 3: Accept Opportunities

If you are a student, you should accept opportunities when they are given to you. Opportunities can come in the form of internships, research opportunities, and more.

An internship is a great way to get familiar with your industry. They don’t pay a lot of money, but they can help you get a good idea of what your career path will be like.

Research opportunities are a great way to get a head start on your career. Some researchers make a lot of money, and many of them have a great deal of job security when compared to other careers.

By accepting opportunities, you get a chance to take a look at what your career might look like.

Tip 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

The best way to get a job is to ask for one. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. If you don’t ask, how will you ever know if you can have it?

If you want a job, ask around. Ask your professors, your classmates, and your friends if they know if there are any opportunities available. Don’t worry if you are bothering someone, they will understand.

By asking around about jobs, you might find something that you didn’t know about before.

Tip 5: Make Your Own Opportunities

If you can‘t find a job, make one. You need to show that you are passionate about something and that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get where you want to be. If there are no jobs in your field, create one. There is a lot of money to be made in starting your own business.

But you don’t have to start your own business to create your own work. Look at sites like Fiverr and Upwork. Do you have skills you can market? If you give it some thought, you probably do. In the economy as it stands today, this may be the best option for many people.

Negotiating salary

As your career develops, negotiating salary will become a larger and larger part of your job. If you‘re just entering the job market, it can be a little tricky to learn how to negotiate salary, but it‘s not impossible. In any case, negotiating salary is a skill that you need to learn. It‘s very difficult to do well without practice. The only way to become good at it is to practice it with actual employees and managers. So my advice is give it a try, even for your first college job.

Think long term

One final piece of advice: think long term when it comes to your career. Your career will determine your life, to a large extent. It will determine the friends you have, the family you build, and how much you will make. Don’t settle for something meaningless just for the money, if you in a position to wait and look for something that will help your career in the long term.