Brittany Parker is a senior at the University of North Texas in the Frank and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism, working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She currently lives in Dallas, TX and is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America and National Art Honory Society. Brittany is an aspiring novelist and plans to write a compelling memoir while building a career in the crisis management sector of PR. She loves reading, writing, studying history, and travelling to new places.
I have been in and out of many different part-time jobs during my college career. As a full-time student, it is difficult to manage studying, writing papers, group projects, not to mention actual time spent in class. With all of these responsibilities as a student, it’s nearly impossible to find a way to pay bills without interfering with school. However, there are options out there that can be perfect for you.
My initial attempt at working in college was waiting tables. The hours are flexible and the money is consistent, depending on the establishment. The key word here is consistent. There are an infinite amount of serving jobs available, however it is important to find a restaurant that is your best bet. Find a location close to where you live, with higher menu costs and more upscale clientele. Also, try to steer clear of restaurants that are open until the wee hours of the morning. As a server, you will almost never leave for the night as soon as the doors close to patrons. The biggest obligation of waiting tables is the grunt work done to close the restaurant and prep for the next day. If you choose an establishment that closes at 2am, you can expect to be going home anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour after that time (if you’re a fast worker). As you can expect, this doesn’t leave much time for studying after work. Luckily, most of the more upscale restaurants where you can make the best money are not usually late-night settings.
Hourly paid part-time jobs are another option. This could be anything from retail, administration, personal assisting, or even nannying. Believe it or not, I have tried each and every one of these. I have made great money as a nanny, mediocre money as a receptionist, and nearly unlivable money in retail. The upside to all of these options is that you know exactly what you are making each week, as long as you keep up with the amount of hours you have worked. You also know precisely what time you’re going to work and what time you will be leaving, unlike waiting tables. The downside? Each industry has varying disadvantages. Retail hourly pay is very difficult to live on, especially when you’re only able to work twenty hours a week or less. I found the same to be true with receptionist positions. Personal employment positions like nannying and personal assisting usually offer higher pay, but little to no job security. When you’re working for a person or family, as opposed to a company, the chance that they no longer need and/or want your services is high. And with positions like these, they have every right to end your employment without notice, whether your job performance and work ethic is stellar or not.
Here’s the bottom line, in my opinion: waiting tables is key. Schedule flexibility and great income are the two top priorities for a working collegiate, and in my experience no other part-time job has outweighed that. It is important to remember that there are many positives and negatives to any job you will have in life, but these are just stepping stones. As a college student, you are working towards a career, not a job. All of this is a means to an end, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it worth your while.