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In India, the concept of universities offering part-time jobs on campus is virtually nonexistent. If it’s similar in your country, then it might seem surreal when you encounter this concept in the U.S. and elsewhere. You get to work for up to 20 hours a week (or more under special circumstances*) and earn money to support yourself financially as you earn a degree.
statsThe pay for a part-time job varies based on the state you’re in, but the minimum wage in most states is between $7 and $10.* If you worked 20 hours a week for $10 an hour, that’s $800 a month, a pretty sizable amount that will cover most or all of your rent and other expenses.
We know it sounds attractive, but remember that money is not your greatest asset in graduate school.
Your time is.
Unless you are in a dire financial situation, strike a balance between earning enough money for your living expenses and capping the number of hours so as to focus on more important activities, such as assignments and job hunting. Ideally, you should cap it at ten hours, so it doesn’t eat up more than two hours a day. However, make this choice based on the job and the kind of cognitive resources it entails.
The job itself can be useful based on its tasks. Categorizing based on the location, you could find a job at the library, administrative office, athletics/fitness center, career center, and cafeteria. At least, these are the major sources. There will be others specific to your university.* If you end up becoming a librarian, you could leverage the quiet environment to focus on other hobbies, such as reading or listening to an audiobook. However, if your role is to be an examiner, that wouldn’t give you time to focus on your own tasks while you’re working.
It’s up to you to find a job that you’re qualified for, that pays reasonably well, and that gives you some flexibility.
To be proactive, take a look at the university website a month or two before you begin your program and email the various offices offering part-time roles. Similar to the assistantships, the demand will always be greater than the supply. You need to find non-traditional means to obtain a role, by either networking with your seniors who had it previously or knocking on the door of the office directly to show your interest.
storyI was a mathematics tutor for undergrad athletes. I got the job by talking to seniors, getting a list of roles I could apply to, and directly going to the athletics office (more than twice) and expressing my interest. It turned out to be one of the most flexible jobs on campus. The pay per hour was extremely high ($40, compared to the $11.80 minimum wage) and the working hours were mutually set by me and the student per our convenience.
The downside was they capped the number of hours per week, so I could not earn more than a certain amount per week even if I had the time to do so. Still, it was a convenient way to earn some pocket money for my living expenses and took a mere three to four hours a week.
So while you’re applying for scholarships, keep in mind the other ways you can fund yourself in the future and make a note of them somewhere.
We also came across two university programs that offered free education: NYU Medical School.* and Washington University Medical School* If you are planning on becoming a med student, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Three Things to Remember
As you go and begin your application now, keep the following in mind. First, the importance of applying on time cannot be overstated.
The people on the other side see things as black and white. If you miss your deadline, or apply when you’re not eligible, it will be an outright rejection.
storyI applied for the PEO Peace Women’s Scholarship* on time, but the professor who submitted my recommendation did it two hours after the deadline. So they told me they could not accept my application. I emailed back explaining the situation and the why, but this was their response:
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