To work or not to work?

Sarah Clark

Let’s face it — college is awesome. However, those nights spent partying and lunches from Panda Express can get rather expensive, and as many upperclassmen will protest, they will catch up to you.

The college lifestyle can get rather expensive overall, and the decision to get a job while in college involves many factors. Whether it is the pressure from dad to get a jump on those loan interest payments, your desire to maintain a steady beer fund or if you’re gaining experience to build up your resume, the reason for holding a job can stem from many reasons.

If you’re set on having a job during the semester, Iowa State has great resources to help you decide what is best for you. 

In your AccessPlus account, accessible from the ISU homepage, you can find a tab titled “Student Job Board.” This link includes several enterprises looking to hire for both on and off campus positions.

The positions include everything from sales associates to gymnastics instructors to office assistants. There are many different types of positions available and the jobs are categorized based on their field of work.

Jaymes Savage, senior in political science, began working in the spring of 2008 was a lab monitor through the spring semester of 2011.

“I went to the department office and asked if there was an opening since the previous person was graduating,” Savage said. “I was offered the job right then and there.”

Savage worked about 20 hours a week and spent most of his income on food, gas and bills. His position as lab monitor even allowed him to do his homework while he worked.

“My job helps me academically since I am right at a computer,” Savage said. “It makes finding time to study easier since I study while I work.”

Savage was able to obtain his position right on the spot.

Another way students can learn about available jobs is through the Student Employment Center.

The Student Employment Center is in charge of operating the Student Job Board and is a great resource for helping students find positions.

The Student Employment Center also helps students with work-study positions. The work-study program subsidizes some student jobs, according to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Students are then able to credit parts of their income as financial aid to reduce their student contribution amount, increasing their eligibility for future need-based aid. Both work-study and non work-study positions can be found on the Student Job Board.

Some students decide they want a job, but aren’t sure what position would fit them best. The top 10 jobs to work while in college include positions ranging from campus tour guide to resident adviser to tutor, according to, all of which Iowa State offers on-campus to students.

Other students prefer to work off-campus in local restaurants or stores. There are several restaurants and stores throughout Ames that hire many college students. Hy-Vee, Subway and McDonald’s are a few places very close to campus that hire and employ college students each semester.

For those who don’t have a vehicle on campus, bussing is a good alternative in Ames. The CyRide transportation system runs several bus routes that travel throughout the city of Ames. CyRide offers routes that travel downtown and to Duff Avenue. and the bus system is free to all Iowa State students. All bus route and scheduling information can be found at the CyRide website.

Better yet, many of the local businesses in Ames that hire college students are understanding of the college workload. Many jobs allow flexible scheduling and employers encourage students to place their studies first.

Some students struggle when deciding whether or not to get a job because they’re uncertain about the college atmosphere or the stresses of their first semester. If you’re worried, try waiting until second semester before you take on a job. This will allow you to get used to the college atmosphere and better prepare for this type of responsibility.

Many students work jobs while attending school but you should know that studying in college is a big responsibility. Sometimes the stress of a job is too much for students to handle on top of their studies and if you are skeptical about the potential size of your work load, don’t be afraid to wait until second semester to explore the working environment.

College is a wonderful experience and many argue it’s the best time of your life. Enjoy the lifestyle but remember what you’re here for. The career you obtain in the future will make it all worth it.