Practical Experience, Greater Success
Student employment can be a great way to help pay for college, gain practical work experience and is often overlooked. A recent study showed that students who participate in the federal work study program are more likely to earn their degree and be employed after finishing school than similar non-participants! With this in mind, let’s take a look at benefits and important things to know about how working as a student, federal work study, and internships may help you get a job after graduation.
Working as a Student
Many students, whether they are enrolled full-time or part-time, work in some capacity while enrolled in college courses. Unlike with the “free money” provided by scholarships and grants, the money earned while you work is not directly applied to tuition or other education-related expenses. It’s a regular paycheck you earn for the hours you’ve worked.
There are several benefits of working while in college, such as:
- Earning money that can cover college expenses and help minimize student loan debt.
- On-the-job experience, potentially in your area of study, and looks great on resumes.
- Networking contacts and interview experience that could help you find a job after college.
- Potential scholarship and tuition reimbursement opportunities from your employer.
Many students are eligible to take advantage of work study jobs. These are jobs on campus that are specifically for students. Most work study jobs are limited to 15-20 hours per week to allow flexibility for the student to work and gain experience while still focusing on their studies!
Key notes regarding work study:
- Students must still apply and be hired for their work study job, even if it was on their award letter. Earnings and placement are not automatic.
- The financial aid award amount does limit how much you can make in the work study program. Work with your employer to plan appropriately.
- Work study funds are not paid up front, but rather as a paycheck for work completed. Plan wisely for how to use these funds, whether it is for tuition payments, saving for next semester or additional spending money.
- To be eligible for the Federal Work Study program, you must complete the FAFSA.
- The income earned from Federal Work Study does not count when renewing the FAFSA.
Another option to gain experience and help pay for college is with internships. Research indicates that over 80% of employers look for internship experience when reviewing resumes, while only 8% of college students indicated spending any time considering internships in their field of study. INvestEd believes internships are another way to gain academic credit, earn money to cover college costs, build professional experience and help students confirm their career choice.
Key notes regarding internships:
- Placement can be competitive, so start early in researching and applying for positions.
- Use your campus network of faculty and advisors to find the best options that meet academic requirements and provide experience in your field of study.
- May be paid or unpaid positions, so plan accordingly regarding covering college costs.
- A great opportunity to gain interview and resume creation experience as well as adding professional content for future job searches.
Work and Learn Indiana
Work and Learn Indiana is a FREE internship-matching program managed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce linking employers, students, high schools, colleges and universities. It is a dynamic, searchable database, matching and reporting system coupled with personal assistance — including a hotline to answer questions and provide internship guidance and resource materials. The goal is to help create or expand high-quality experiential opportunities within Indiana.
Indiana students can utilize the State of Indiana’s EARN Indiana program, which offers a web portal to connect Indiana students to paid internships in their career fields. Requirements for the EARN Indiana program are:
- Be an Indiana resident
- Be enrolled full time at an eligible Indiana college
- Be a first-time undergraduate student
- Have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $24,570 or less
INvestEd believes student employment in the form of work study and internships are a great way to earn money for education expenses and to help avoid excessive debt.