Best Jobs For College Students (With 20+ Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Jan. 11, 2021

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For many people, college is one of life’s most transformative, meaningful, and memorable periods. It’s an important time to expand one’s worldview, strengthen one’s confidence and sense of purpose, and develop one’s professional skill set.

It can also be a great time to add valuable, real-world job experience to your resume. Though many of your days and nights in college will be crammed with studying and socializing, many college students today manage to find slivers of time each week to commit to a gig or part-time job.

Besides providing you with practical skills that can translate into a permanent job later on in your career, these jobs can also help you acquire the extra cash that you’ll need to pay for books, tuition, food, transportation, rent, or future student loan payments.

However, it’s essential to bear in mind that not all jobs will be equally well-suited to the life of the average college student. Your college years, after all – in addition to being extremely fun and enriching – will also be very demanding.

You’re only going to have so many spare hours each week to be able to commit to a job, so it’s crucial for you to be able to select an employment opportunity that will be flexible enough to accommodate your busy academic schedule.

Luckily, the rise of modern communications and computing technologies have made flexible, part-time, gig-style, and online jobs more widely available than ever before. Furthermore, many of these jobs will be ideal opportunities for busy and inexperienced college students who are interested in earning a little extra income.

Three Things to Look for in a Job While You’re in College

Everyone has their own unique college experience. The amount of tuition that you’ll have to pay, for one thing, will entirely depend on the school and the program that you’ve selected, as well as your financial situation at the time of your admission.

Your schedule, similarly, will depend on how rigorous the program of your selected major turns out to be. Some college students enjoy financial security and relatively easy classes throughout their entire four-year undergraduate careers. Others struggle to make money, all the while putting themselves through incredibly intensive classes.

But there’s a truism that applies to all college students, regardless of your financial background or your field of study: Success (or lack thereof) after graduation will be determined not only by your money or your grades – it will also be determined by the amount of professional experience that you’re able to gain before your college graduation.

This is one of the many reasons why internships can have such a major payoff in the long run. The problem with internships, of course, is that many of them are totally unpaid. While they can certainly lead to future job opportunities, internships are often not useful in obtaining financial security in the present moment.

Job type you want
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Part Time
Internship
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This is where finding flexible, freelance, online, or part-time gigs come into play. Like an internship, many of these jobs can provide you with valuable job experience that will help you catch the eye of prospective employers in the future. Unlike many internships, on the other hand, these jobs come with the added benefit of compensating you in the here and now for your time and effort.

However, it’s important to be selective in your process of finding a job as an undergraduate student. If you’re not careful, you may end up signing onto a role that demands more than you’re able to give under the constraints of your busy school calendar.

With all of those ideas in mind, here are three qualities that you should look for in any job while you’re in college:

  • Flexibility. Most four-year university programs are like full-time jobs in and of themselves. Therefore, it’s going to be crucial to find a job that will be flexible enough to allow you to maintain it on top of – and in addition to – your already busy schedule.

    In an ideal world, that flexibility will include both of the following:

    • Flexible scheduling options. Inevitably, there are going to be times in college when academic or personal appointments need to be prioritized over your side hustle. For that reason, it’s always preferable to acquire a job that’s able to offer flexible scheduling options while you’re attending college.

    • Flexible location options. As an undergraduate student, you’re probably currently living close to campus (unless, of course, you’re attending an online-only program, in which case you might be living further away or at home with your parents).

      As such, your travel-to-work options are fairly limited. You might have a car or a bike and thereby be able to travel across large distances relatively quickly. Still, your aforementioned busy academic schedule is likely to make long-distance work-related travel an impractical option.

      The best way to connect with job opportunities that are outside of your immediate neighborhood while you’re attending college, then, is to seek out jobs with flexible location options. In other words, jobs that will allow you to work from home or another secondary location, such as a coffee shop.

  • Relevance to your chosen field or major. For most college students, the main point of finding a job while attending school is to learn a little extra cash on the side. But if that job is directly relevant and applicable to your chosen field of study, that’s even better.

    In that case, you’ll get paid – sometimes hourly, sometimes daily, sometimes by another metric – while simultaneously building the skills and professional network that can ultimately lead to more lucrative and prestigious job opportunities in the future.

  • Not excessively demanding. Finally, it will be essential to look for jobs that aren’t going to demand too much of your time, energy, and bandwidth. As we’ve already discussed, your academic responsibilities are going to very nearly require your full and undivided attention.

    If you’re careful in your job search, it’s possible to find employment opportunities that you’ll be able to manage and succeed in while you’re also attending classes full-time.

    If you’re not careful, on the other hand, it’s all too easy to sign up for a job that demands more time and energy than you’re able to give. If that happens, both your academic and your professional careers are going to suffer.

Before we look at some examples of common jobs for college students, we must note that the three criteria above are not absolutely mandatory.

It’s entirely feasible for a college student to work a job that doesn’t offer much flexibility, that isn’t directly relevant to their major, or demands a considerable amount of their energy.

Again, it ultimately depends on your specific circumstances. In light of that, you should always be sure to carefully define your ideal employment opportunity before you begin looking for a job as an undergraduate student.

To that end, here are a few self-reflective questions that you can ask yourself:

  • “How many hours each week – after factoring in time for classes, socializing, and studying – will I realistically be able to commit to a job?”

  • “How important is it to me that I find a job that will allow me to build skills and a network that’s relevant to my major?”

  • “How much energy do I typically have at the end of the average weekday? Would it be possible for me to work a job in the evenings (and still be able to get enough sleep so that my academic performance won’t be compromised)?”

25 Examples of Common Jobs for College Students

Now that we’ve outlined the specific benefits that you should seek out in a job, as well as some self-reflective exercises to get you started on your search, we’re now ready to look at some real-world examples of ideal jobs for college students.

Here are twenty-five examples of flexible, online, and part-time jobs for modern undergraduate students:

  1. Barista. If you love coffee and you also enjoy socializing with people, then you may be the perfect candidate for a barista position at your favorite local or campus coffee shop.

    Working as a barista is an excellent opportunity to develop your social skills. And when business is slow, it can also provide you with the time and space to cram in a little extra studying. Free coffee is another major perk that attracts many college students to barista jobs.

  2. Restaurant server. Restaurant server jobs tend to be fairly flexible and fun, a great job opportunity for any undergraduate student who is light on their feet, enjoys working in a busy working environment, and doesn’t mind occasionally working late nights.

  3. Restaurant host/hostess. As the host of a restaurant, your primary job will be to welcome customers, engage in pleasant conversation, and help them find their seats.

    It’s a relatively undemanding position – often with flexible working hours – that can help you meet tons of new people and hone your conversation and negotiation skills.

  4. Receptionist. Like a restaurant host, the receptionist’s role is primarily to greet customers and make them feel welcome as soon as they enter a business.

    Strong interpersonal and communication skills are an absolute prerequisite for most receptionist job opportunities, as is proficiency with most Microsoft Office programs, such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.

  5. Freelance writer. If you have a talent and a passion for writing, you may want to consider pursuing a freelance writer position. Companies and organizations frequently seek out writers who will help them develop marketing content on a freelance basis.

    Freelance writing is the perfect opportunity for any college student looking to work from the comfort of their home or dorm and who is interested in developing their skills as a communicator and as a writer.

  6. Tutor. Working as a tutor is an ideal job for many college students because it provides them with an opportunity to (a) teach others, (b) become even more familiar with their field of study, and (c) earn some extra money in a fun and flexible manner.

    Tutoring is one of the most engaging and rewarding job opportunities available for college students.

  7. Transcriptionist. The transcriptionist’s role is to convert recorded speech or in-person conversations into text that can subsequently be shared and used as a permanent record.

    For example, transcriptionists are essential in the legal industry (they sit in on courtroom hearings and record – to the letter – all of the verbal exchanges that take place).

    To be hired as a transcriptionist, you’ll need to have a keen attention to detail, strong concentration skills, a knack for verbal fluency, and (above all else) exceptional typing skills.

  8. Cashier. The typical cashier’s most notable job responsibilities include overseeing financial transactions, operating a cash register, and interacting with customers.

    This is a flexible and low-stress job opportunity that will require strong social skills, a willingness to stand for long periods, and a demonstrable ability to organize and manage large quantities of cash responsibly.

  9. Nanny or babysitter. If you love to interact with children, we strongly encourage you to seek a job as a nanny or babysitter. This is an ideal job opportunity for any college student who is only looking to commit a few hours each week to work outside of school and enjoys being around kids.

    Keep in mind that most parents and nanny agencies will require you to obtain your child and baby first-aid and CPR certification before you’ll be allowed to begin working.

  10. Summer camp counselor. Working as a camp counselor is a fantastic and lucrative way to spend your summers as a college student. You’ll be guaranteed to make a ton of friends and get plenty of exercise, too.

  11. Research assistant. As a research assistant, you’ll be responsible for scouring multiple sources of data – including academic texts, the internet, and public records – to provide the person that you’re assisting with the information they need.

    It will require a knack for investigation and data analysis, as well as a strong ability to identify patterns across multiple sources of information. One of the additional benefits of working as a research assistant is that there are often opportunities to collect and analyze information directly relevant to the major you’ve chosen to pursue.

  12. Line cook. Line cook jobs tend to be fairly flexible, and they also provide an excellent opportunity to work in a dynamic, engaging, and social working environment. Like many restaurant jobs, however, they may sometimes require you to work late into the evenings.

  13. Bike shop mechanic. If you’re a bike aficionado and a passionate rider, then you may be a great fit for a job as a mechanic at your favorite bike shop.

    This is a job opportunity that will enable you to work alongside others who share your passion, and that can give you the flexibility that you’ll need as you continue to attend classes on a full-time basis.

  14. Freelance film editor. Do you have a love for film, a personal computer, and proficiency with essential video editing platforms (such as Adobe Premiere Pro)? If so, then you may be the perfect candidate for a freelance film editing position.

    Like many freelance positions, this is a role that will likely give you the freedom to work from home and build your own work schedule.

  15. Yoga instructor. Working as a part-time yoga instructor is a great way to stay in shape, explore your passion for wellness and fitness with others, and earn some extra cash.

    Bear in mind that most yoga studios will require you to complete a yoga teacher training course before they consider hiring you.

  16. Lifeguard. Similar to working as a summer camp counselor, working as a lifeguard is a relaxed, rewarding, and lucrative way to spend a summer during your undergraduate years.

    Like working as a babysitter or nanny, it’s also a job that will require you to undergo some sort of legitimate first-aid and CPR training before you’ll be allowed to begin working.

  17. Server at an ice cream parlor. Scooping and serving ice cream is a fun (and delicious) way to make money as a college student. If you’re looking for a flexible and undemanding job this summer, then look no further than your favorite local ice cream shop.

  18. Bartender. Are you licensed and old enough to work at a bar? If so, then a job as a bartender can be a super fun and flexible way to earn some money on the side. It’s also a great way to build new friendships and expand your social circle.

  19. Social media manager. In recent years, social media has become a primary marketing and hiring tool for businesses across almost every industry. Consequently, many employers today place a high value on young people who are intimately familiar with the finer points of social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

    So if you’re an expert on all things related to social media, then this might very well be a perfect (and highly flexible) job opportunity that’s well worth pursuing.

  20. Freelance graphic designer. If you have a penchant for graphic design and access to essential design platforms (such as Adobe Photoshop), then we strongly encourage you to seek out employment opportunities as a freelance graphic designer.

    In this capacity, you’ll be able to deepen your passion for graphic design, expand your professional network, and hone the creative skills that can land you a more stable job after you graduate.

  21. Campus library assistant. Working behind a desk at your campus’ library may sound a bit boring, but try thinking about it this way: Yes, you’ll probably have to spend long hours in quiet solitude as an employee of your campus’ library – but that’s the perfect setting if you’re trying to fit in a few extra hours of studying or reading each week.

    It won’t all be downtime, of course, but the fact remains: This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who’s seeking to work a flexible job in a quiet, relaxed setting.

  22. Campus tour guide. Do you possess strong public speaking skills and a knack for memorizing fun facts about your neighborhood and your school?

    If so, then pursuing a job as a campus tour guide – in which you’ll meet prospective students and show them around the area – could be the perfect job opportunity for you.

  23. Dog walker or pet sitter. If you love animals, you should strongly consider seeking a role as a dog walker or a pet sitter. In addition to being very flexible and fun, these jobs will provide you with an opportunity to get outside, exercise, and interact with other pet owners.

  24. Volunteer for a scientific research study. There are typically several opportunities throughout the year for students to be paid for their participation in research studies at most college campuses across the country.

    Just remember that most of these will be a one-and-done sort of a deal and not a long-term employment opportunity that will provide a regular paycheck.

  25. Rideshare driver. Driving for a company such as Uber or Lyft is a fun and highly flexible way to earn some extra cash as an undergraduate student.

    It will require, among other things, a strong sense of direction and a willingness to remain seated for long stretches of time. Strong conversation skills are not necessarily required for this type of position, but they certainly help.

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Chris Kolmar

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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