By Branwyn M. Wilkinson
If you’ve spent any time at Canisius College, you’ve heard it: work study. Even if you didn’t qualify for this kind of financial aid, or don’t have a job yourself, you know someone who works in one of the College’s various offices or departments. Every year, Canisius employs hundreds of our students to help keep our College running smoothly.
I started hearing about Canisius’ work study opportunities before I was even officially enrolled here, and it was one of the things I most looked forward to before starting college. Work study is a federal financial aid program. It essentially allows qualified students to work for their school as a way of covering some of the cost of tuition. It also allows the institution to employ their most plentiful resource: young people scared out of their minds by debt. All joking aside, though, work study is probably one of the country’s smartest federal programs. Students need jobs. Colleges need employees. The work study program fills both of these needs.
Canisius’ work study students fill important roles on campus. We assist professors or other students, help maintain alumni relations, or keep various college offices organized. It’s no small task, and we build employable skills while doing so.
That’s one of the best parts of work study, especially at Canisius. Many of the jobs students do here aren’t typical minimum wage jobs. Work study students gain more professional skills than they would, say, waitressing or ringing register. This is not to say that those are bad jobs! I’ve spent my fair share of time behind a cash register and even had some fun while there. However, the two work study positions I’ve held at Canisius have taught me a lot more about what to expect of employment after college, and what will be expected of me. In this way, I know that Canisius is preparing me to be successful after graduation.
Another great thing about work study is that your employers are just as focused on graduation as you are. They’ll work with you to schedule hours around your classes and keep the number of hours per week manageable. In fact, most work study aid only allows a student to get paid for 10-15 hours per week. Work study employers respect that getting your degree is your primary focus right now in a way that not all employers do. Case in point: if you don’t have anything to do at work, it’s expected that you’ll work on homework. And yes, you’ll still get paid for that time!
The list of benefits of work study jobs goes on and on. You don’t need to worry about transportation. The limited hours leave plenty of time for studies, extracurriculars, or even another job. You might even get a job in the department of your major, giving you easy access to your professors and advisor and helping you gain skills specific to your career. If you qualify for work study, you absolutely should pursue it. I can understand choosing not to accept the loan portion of your aid, but there’s no reason not to accept this.
It does take work to get a work study position, but so does anything worth doing. You need to reach out, preferably by phone (a scary concept for our generation, I know), apply, and be interviewed the same as you would for any job. Again, though, these are skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.
In case you’re wondering, it’s not too late to apply for work study positions this semester. There are offices still looking for some student workers. If you don’t find anything now, look again at the beginning of the spring semester. And if not this year, there will be a host of open positions next year.
There’s no reason to pass up work study. Your job won’t take up all your time. You’ll learn employable skills. And, maybe most importantly, you’ll make some money and decrease your debt in the long run.
It’s called work study for a reason. A work study job is work. However, anything worth doing takes effort, and this effort is well worth it.