Copyright 2013 Coral von Zumwalt

In the midst of midterm season, I thought I’d share a kernel of knowledge with you all about the work study experience, as I’ve been through a very thorough recruiting process this past quarter.

Work study is a federal program that allows students to hold a part time employment position while studying. Students who receive work study are given an allowance (aka the limit that you can earn). For instance, if you are given a work study allowance of 2000 USD, it means that you can work a student job with a pay rate of $10 for 200 hours or a job with a pay rate of $15 for approximately 133 hours for the school year.

What’s so great about work study?

First off, work study is subsidized by the government. The government essentially pays half of your pay check (so for every $10 you earn, $5 comes from the government etc.). This makes you a highly sought after employee because of your competitive pay rate.

Second of all, it allows you to gain job experience– without having to go off campus if you prefer. The great aspect of working right here at UCLA is that employers are generally more understanding of midterms and other commitments in college life. They are usually more lax about hours during midterms/finals weeks.

Last but not least, it is just as valuable as any other job. It bulks up your resume, especially during the years when you are not yet eligible for major internships. It gives you experience in working in a professional setting while still being a student. It also helps build relationships with your employers (many of whom are professors and administrative personnel on campus) and coworkers. In addition, a little cash wouldn’t hurt.

So how do I get a work study job?

You need to receive work study as part of your financial aid package to be eligible for the work study program. (You can refer to the financial aid website if you are not certain of your status, they’ll be able to help you out). If you are awarded the work study component as part of your financial aid package, take it. Even if you do not manage to secure employment, FA will not penalize you.

To start off the hiring process, refer to the work study bulletin and keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities. During the beginning of each quarter (fall, specifically), employers post job openings here. They are usually seeking work-study students, so you have an advantage. Prepare a thorough cover letter and resume, select a couple of job positions you are interested in, and contact the employer via email! If you pass the resume screening process, employers will usually invite you in for an interview (level of formality varies depending on where your potential job is located) and explain what the job entails.

If you are hired on the spot, congratulations! Usually employers take around a week to get back to you. If unfortunately the position is filled by another student, do not despair– we’ve all been there. Time to polish your A-game and contact more recruiters!

There are positions open in all fields– I’ve seen clerical jobs, research assistant jobs for both the sciences and the humanities, and tech support positions as well. The multitude of jobs available mean that not only can you get a student job, but also secure one that may align with your future career interests!

I’ve held two work study jobs thus far, and I can say that they have been the most rewarding experiences in my college life. I currently work at the Anderson Graduate School of Management, and the MBA environment I’ve been exposed to as a result of this job has helped me develop a better understanding of the level of professionalism required to pursue a MBA degree. In the past, I’ve also assisted an English professor on his publication, and it was incredibly rewarding as well. Being able to get a taste of the real world while still enjoying the perks of being a UCLA student is definitely eye opening!

Cheers, and good luck to all the students out there knee deep in midterm season.