The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Working part-time during school pays off

Sophomore Lizzie Fitzgibbons, a business major from Kansas City, Mo. has worked at BEYOND Pedaling in Snider Plaza since August, attending the front desk and instructing pedaling classes of her own.

“While I don’t think my career will be a spin instructor, I love health and fitness and would love to somehow be able to incorporate that into my job someday down the road, whether that be opening my own studio or managing health centers,” Fitzgibbons said.

Like Fitzgibbons, more and more SMU students are taking on part-time jobs during school, both on and off campus.

While such jobs may not directly translate into an intended career path, students find that work experience leads to positive outcomes. From creating a network to learning valuable skills in the workplace, part-time jobs do more than just pay the rent.

Sophomore Jayce Miller, a finance major from Allen, Texas, agrees. Miller works for the Mustang Academic Bridge Program, which aids first-year SMU students with their transition from high school to college, both socially and academically.

“[Having a job during college] really forces you to capitalize the amount of time you need to study as well as work,” Miller said.

“The time management aspect has been great because I am much more efficient now which I know will help me in the real world. I plan on going into business; this job just allows me to socialize and get paid doing it.”

Research about working in college puts in writing what students like Fitzgibbons and Miller have already discovered.

The College at Brockport, located in New York, concluded in a 2001 study that the number of students 16 to 24-years-old who work increased from 49 percent to 57 percent since 1984.

Researchers found that “Part-time on-campus work appears to have no negative effects on students’ enrollment rates or GPAs, and it may even have a positive effect.”

Regina James, assistant director of career development, works with students to help hone such positive effects.

James, along with the Hegi Family Career Development Center, provides students with job preparation tools and resources to translate skills learned from relevant experiences into successful job market attributes.

“No matter what experience you have here in college, whether it’s work related or school activities or academic experience, my biggest advice is that you make the most of it,” said James, who held three part-time jobs as an SMU student.

“The reason why work experience is so valuable is because you develop professional skills that employers are really seeking in the work place so they know you know how to work.”

“If you’re intentional about part-time jobs, I think that’s when it pays off the most,” Career Counselor Chelsi McLain said.

“Instead of talking about your duties, talk about impact and talk about results that came from what you did. Talk about things that translate.”

“The little quirks that no one can necessarily teach you that learn about being in a work environment certainly does give you a competitive advantage,” James added.

Part-time work experience during school can also shed light on what a student may (or may not) want to pursue as a career. “An on-campus position may spark a student’s interest in further academic programs or provide important work experience that will improve future labor market prospects,” the Brockport study reports.

“Students who work fewer than 10 hours per week have slightly higher GPAs than other similar students.” Researchers stress that working over 25 hours per week, however, could bring negative consequences. In some cases, making money can take priority over maintaining one’s grades.

“School should always come first, especially when you’re a full-time student. It’s easy to get caught up in the money aspect and want to work extra shifts in order to make more money, but for the most part I think kids learn how to balance it out,” Fitzgibbons said.

Miller agrees, saying, “The only disadvantage is losing study time, and sometimes you have a big test the next day, but you’re supposed to work. On-campus jobs will usually work with you to ensure that you get adequate time to study.”

Fitzgibbons admits that the benefits of work a part-time often outweigh the negative consequences saying “I like keeping busy which means I have to focus on time management. We have a team of about 20 employees at BEYOND so communication is also very important when it comes to covering shifts or setting up a schedule.”

Some employers are more attracted to a potential employee that works part-time while being involved and simultaneously maintaining a solid GPA, James said.

“That just really speaks volumes that you have the ability to handle a lot and be well balanced. That’s really an attractive attribute to an employer.”

If a student cannot fully commit to a part-time job, James stresses relevant experience as key to differentiating one’s resume. “You may be a student who becomes the treasurer of your fraternity or sorority, and — hello — that’s relevant experience.”

Though a part-time job can be taxing, whether with the Mustang Academic Bridge Program, BEYOND Pedaling, or even internships and externships, students and research alike prove that a job during school provides more than just a source of income.

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