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Don’t Settle for a Lame College Job

Working through college is essential. There’s not an employer out there who doesn’t want to see work experience on a recent grad’s resume. For many of us, working is also a financial necessity. I’ve had three different jobs/internship experiences over the last four years, both paid and unpaid. Here’s the rundown on each of them:

Student Gallery Manager – Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) – Paid (Federal Work-Study)

The good:

Because it’s part of Loyola, LUMA respects students’ schedules and is great at helping them put school first. In that sense it can be a good alternative to working in food service or retail.  It can also be pretty interesting, I learned a good deal about art history and met some very cool artists.

The not so good:

When it’s slow, spending eight hours in an empty gallery can get pretty boring. There’s only so much reading one can do. Sometimes I would hope for people to come in just so I would have someone to talk to.

Community Marketing Ambassador – MentorMob – Unpaid Internship

MentorMob is an educational technology startup based in Chicago.

The good:

Working at MentorMob was exciting because everything moved quickly and I could see the results of my work almost immediately. My coworkers were passionate and intelligent and working in that environment made me want to constantly improve. At a small company you also have a vantage point that allows you to see the big picture of how a company runs from financing to development and marketing.

The not so good:

Unpaid internships with startups can be tough because if there’s insufficient funding there’s no chance of getting paid – no matter how much you might love working there. Some students will work part-time, have an unpaid internship and go to school full time but that can be a lot to juggle.

Communications Assistant – Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) – Paid (Federal Work Study)

When I was looking for a job last fall I knew that I needed to get paid and I wanted to get some quality work experience as well. I hit the jackpot when I found my current job on Ramblerlink. Interfaith Worker Justice is a non-profit that advocates for workers’ rights. In line with its mission, IWJ pays its student workers more than minimum wage. It’s also a two-semester position which is been great because it often takes a couple months just to get ahead of the learning curve.

Overall, great pay for real experience and rewarding work is a combination that can’t be beat. I didn’t expect to find something that met those criteria but I’m glad I didn’t settle for less. I know that opportunities like this are to hard to find but they’re out there. I hope my experiences will help other students in their job searches and encourage them not to settle.

About me:

My name is Jess Livinghouse and I’m a senior studying advertising and public relations. I currently work at a local non-profit as a communications assistant. I get excited about live music, trying new food and technology that improves lives. Be sure to check back on the School of Communication blog for my weekly updates!