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PFCollege: Take Jobs for Resume Value, Not $

Finding a part time job while you’re in college is usually pretty easy. There are always computer labs that need staffing or libraries that need clerks and while they do provide value in terms of cold hard cash, especially if you have work-study financial aid, they do little in providing depth and breadth on your resume. Your resume is your other transcript, some would say more important than your academic transcript, and so you should populate it with jobs that give you valuable work experience in your intended field and let the money flow later.

Obtaining a resume worthy job is often difficult if you have no prior experience and don’t already know someone working at a company or conducting research at a lab in your field. That’s okay, not everyone relies nepotism to get a job (but it helps!), but you will need to try to cultivate new relationships so you can just learn about the jobs that may be available for someone who is basically pre-entry and short-term.

A great stepping stone to gainful employment is research with one of your professors. Professors lead a double life of educating the (paying) masses and conducting their own research, which they are usually passionate about. If you’re interested in finding out what a professor does, look for their website and peruse the papers they’ve written. If it interests you, talk to them before or after class about pursuing a researching position with them, even if the position is unpaid.

If you are unable to secure a position in a related field, I’d recommend pursuing a position that would require some secondary requisite skills such as a library clerk (organization) or tutoring other students (academic excellence) over simpler non-skilled jobs (computer lab maintenance). Demonstrating secondary skills on a resume trumps “empty suit” type jobs that anyone could’ve done.

Ultimately, remember that the goal of college is to get a job and filling up your second transcript, your resume, is something you should be actively pursuing. Sometimes taking a job to make a little extra money is necessary (if you’re finding it difficult to pay bills) but if you can handle it, the best option is to take a job that provides experience and allows you to demonstrate your capabilities because that will provide long term benefits beyond a paycheck.

This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students [3] (hence, PF College).