Aside from a few odd jobs here and there, such as babysitting and cat sitting, I didn't really start working until I got to RIT. My first real job was working at Gracie's, the all-you-can-eat dining hall on the residence hall side of campus.
My mom had worked in food service when she was in college, and told me some pretty fun stories. It was a goal of mine to get a job once I got to school, so food service seemed like the place to start. There are several different dining halls on campus, and many hire a ton of new students in the fall. Gracie's was nice and conveniently located near the residence halls – I could even walk there through the tunnels without having to go outside!
Food service has its pros and cons. I loved working in the bakery department of Gracie's. The head baker let me help bake cookies, portion out servings of cake and brownies, and decorate the pies with cool whip. It smelled so good over there, and I'll never forget the rare batch or two that did not make the cut. Maybe the cookies were a little burnt on one side, maybe the paper didn't peel off quite right, maybe half the cookie got crushed... whatever the reason, they were up to grabs for the workers (always a nice surprise). I really enjoyed serving the food too. There was a period of time when I was stationed at the grill and was in charge of putting the cheese on all the cheeseburgers (pretty exciting stuff, right?) It was even more fun to find my friends waiting in line. Even though I could only briefly say hi while taking orders and trying to multi-task, it was always exciting to see someone I knew. As with pretty much all food service jobs, cleaning up after people was not as fun.
I worked at Gracie's for my entire freshman year. But as the year came to an end, I knew I had to find another job for the summer. Gracie's had very limited hours over the summer (if any) with the majority of students home for the break.
I managed to find a job in a retail store in the mall near campus (yes, I am a local from Rochester). Some handy skills I learned in retail include: folding clothes quickly and efficiently, refolding clothes again 5 minutes later, and helping customers sift through piles looking for their size. I was also trained for the register – which is way harder than I thought. Coupons and random "store cash/credit" were my kryptonite. Why did using coupons have to be so complicated???
I started working in the mall while I was still in class, so commuting to work wasn't as easy as walking from one end of residence hall side to the other. My parents let me borrow a car to make it easier for me to get to my random shifts. Since I was in class, I was scheduled for the 4:00am shipment shift. If you can avoid it, NEVER AGREE TO ANY OF THE GRAVEYARD SHIFTS! To get to my shift on time, I had to leave around 3:30am... I would try to go to bed early, but the college life had gotten me used to late nights and I found it nearly impossible to change my sleep schedule. As I left in the morning for the worst shift ever, I would often pass by people who hadn't even gone to bed yet... the whole time questioning myself and wondering how long I could last at this job. Ok, it wasn't that bad... I may be over-exaggerating just a little, but 4am is still too early.
While working at the mall, I heard back from another job I had applied for – Student Ambassador for RIT's Undergraduate Admissions Office. I was absolutely thrilled! For starters, the hours were better, the pay was better, and it was on campus so I wouldn't have to drive off campus. No more getting up at 3 in the morning!
The best part of working at Admissions, though, is being a tour guide. I get to meet families and students visiting RIT, trying to decide on colleges and what they want to major. I remember going on those college visits myself, and remember how stressful it can be. I also know exactly how the students feel when their parent asks a question and the student pretends not to be embarrassed. It's kinda crazy to now see it all from the other side! As a tour guide, you also meet a variety of people. Just last week I gave a tour to a family from China! Being able to share my experience at RIT so far with prospective students and their families makes me excited, especially when I'm able to answer their questions and help them in their decision process.
Some tips for people looking for jobs on campus:
1. Have a resume ready. Some jobs on campus will have their own application that may or may not need one, but it's a good idea to have one ready just in case.
2. Look around. Dining halls usually post that they are hiring, but they are not the only ones who hire students.
3. Ask your professors. Often times, professors – especially in the science programs/departments – are working on research projects. There are many opportunities for students to assist professors with their work during the school year and over breaks/summers.
4. Look at your email. Usually toward the beginning of the semester, you may get an email looking for jobs and even note-takers. Note-taking is a paid position where you are hired to go to class and take notes for our deaf and hard-of-hearing students. (Getting paid to go to class? Sign me up!)
5. If you did really well in a class on campus, consider applying to be a tutor. There are different forms of tutoring jobs on campus, ranging from working in a study center to one-on-one tutoring.
6. Be professional with all future/potential employers. Sure, you're a college student and your boss may seem pretty chill – or may even be another student in some cases - but don't let that be an excuse to slack off.
7. Don't treat your campus job like a club or a hobby on the side. Show up on time, and don't miss shifts unless you have a good reason. Usually campus jobs are flexible and can work around your class schedule, but it is your responsibility to find coverage. Communication is key; the sooner you let your boss know of any conflicts, the better.
8. Get direct deposit. At RIT, you can choose to sign up for direct deposit. The pay period is every two weeks, and it's nice to know that your checks will go straight to your bank account. You also don't have to worry about going into work on your day off to pick up a check.
9. Consider jobs that can relate to your major. This might be a nice opportunity to build your resume.
10. Pay attention to certain perks and benefits of working at different places on campus. Usually, if you work in food service you get a free meal or discount on the food. Over the summer, if you work over a certain number of hours for the housing department, the housing office will pay for your summer housing.
If you want to try to get a head start on the search for on campus jobs, check out the Student Employment Office's link: http://www.rit.edu/emcs/seo/?/students/oncampus