How to find a job on campus


Adam Zhang

Shelves filled with items for sale at the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., Champaign. This is a popular destination for students looking to work on campus, as longform editor Andrea writes.

By Andrea Flores, Longform Editor

College is a place of many “firsts.” Your first large lecture, the first time living on your own, the cliches go on and on. And for some, it’s where you land your first job. 

We all know college kids are broke, so it’s not surprising many students on campus work to make ends meet. They’re making your coffee, serving your food and swiping your i-cards at the gym.

I’ve been working since I was in high school, so I knew at the beginning of my freshman year I would have to work somewhere to help out with tuition payments and eventually pay my own rent and bills as the years went on. It was scary at first, going to a new place and knowing I’d have to find work fast, but it is totally manageable.

These part-time jobs go quickly at the beginning of the year, so if you’re looking for a job, be sure to have that be one of the first things you look into on campus.

So whether you want some extra cash to splurge on Green Street food or you want to get ahead on loan interest payments, here are some places where students just like you found jobs:

Marketplace Mall

Technically this place isn’t on campus, but try and stay with me here. In high school, I worked in retail and when I heard the mall was only a 25-minute bus ride away, I jumped at the chance to work there.

For me, there are a bunch of reasons why working at the mall was better for me than working in the dining hall or at the Activities and Recreation Center. I won’t diss the place I actually worked at — it just wasn’t for me.

First, many stores at the mall will pay over the minimum wage, while many campus jobs do not.

Second, heading home for the holidays meant having a job at home too, by transferring to another store back home. If you’re not heading home, staying for Thanksgiving and winter break means extra hours from the holiday season, which will keep you busy and increase your paychecks.

Another reason why I liked working at the mall was getting off campus. It was refreshing to leave campus behind, even for just a few hours, to interact with people and families from Champaign. It helped me gain more perspective than just sticking around the Main Quad.

Illini Union/Illini Union Bookstore

If you’re looking to stay on campus, the Illini Union system is a great place to start. There are so many departments within the Illini Union, including restaurants like Einstein Bros, Starbucks, the Rec Room and the bookstore.

While these jobs often start at minimum wage, the longer you spend time with a place, you can earn raises and promotions, which is like getting a slightly different job each semester.

With all jobs off and on campus, there’s always a need for work during breaks, so if you’re already thinking about staying in Champaign next summer, many people stick with the Illini Union and the Illini Union Bookstore while they do a few credit hours of classes. 

The Illini Union lists all available positions on their website and if you’re looking to make new friends and learn more about Illinois, the Illini Union and the bookstore are worth checking out.

Dining Services

If you want to work just steps from your cozy bed, dining services might be the way to go. Again, these jobs often start at minimum wage, but some shifts can be a quarter more and they offer raises with each semester of work.

There are also many different tasks within dining services, like serving, stocking and maintenance, so each day can be something different.

Their open positions are also posted online and they pride themselves on promoting students quickly, which can lead to worthwhile leadership opportunities.

Campus Recreation

If the retail or service industry isn’t your thing, Campus Recreation also offers many different jobs, like front desk, i-card swiping and personal training, so you can try out what you like and learn more about fitness, all while making money.

My roommate worked for Campus Recreation for three years and she was definitely a fan of her hours and hourly rate. She worked in aquatics — and special departments like that offered positions over the minimum wage.

At all these jobs, hours can be flexible, with as little as six hours a week to 28 hours per week, and as long as you provide your class schedule and cooperate with your managers, you can essentially set up your own hours.

In college, it’s hard to find a job that’s totally glamorous. Someday, you may want to be a lawyer or a CEO or a professor, so working small jobs may seem so tedious, but campus jobs are a great place to make friends, learn new things and keep you from calling home every week for a direct deposit just so you can eat and go out with friends.

Andrea is a senior in Media.

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