Working on campus benefits international students in many ways: Beyond having extra spending cash, college campus jobs enable students to make new friends, develop professional skills, and help other international students find their way. Additionally, it’s often easier for F-1 student visa holders to find on-campus job opportunities.
For students such as Htet, who is from Vietnam and studies at the University of Utah, there are many benefits of student employment. Read on to hear about Htet’s on-campus job experience, learn the skills required to get placement in campus roles, and discover what are the skills required to get placement on campus. Soon, you too could be developing career-building skillsets to add to your resume after working on campus as an international student.
What Are On-Campus Jobs?
On-campus jobs are forms of employment on location at your university, including roles as teacher’s and research assistants, as well as positions as student employees in the library, dormitories, food halls, and administrative offices. Your university rules may also allow you to work for third-party organizations with stores or contract work on campus.
Some examples of jobs on campus include:
Research assistant: Faculty in different departments and fields of study are always looking for help organizing and undertaking research. Often, research work is funded by grants and offers paid positions to assistants.
IT assistant: Put your tech stack skills to work! Most US universities employ students on campus to ensure they have well-run technology setups (like networks and intranets) and to troubleshoot problems.
Marketing assistant: From alumni outreach to social media account management, marketing is a huge part of every US university’s infrastructure. Many students work in marketing roles that keep schools competitive and popular.
Tour guide: Who says you can’t learn to harness important career soft skills while working on campus? Tour guides not only market on behalf of their universities, they also learn to be confident public speakers and friendly faces representing the school.
Radio DJ: It’s OK to have some fun while working on campus, too! Working at a radio station helps you learn how to develop a program, speak publicly, think creatively, and build an audience/grow your followers.
Finding campus placements makes for easy job searches for student employees; however, you may also be eligible for university-related roles off campus. Make sure you check the job boards at your student employment offices and talk to your advisor to learn more about where you are allowed to work.
What Are the Skills Required to get an On-Campus Job?
There is a wide range of on-campus jobs available to international students. While many require students to have work experience or be majoring in a specific field, many others require no experience at all and may even help you make decisions about your future career. Often students use their on-campus jobs as an in-between step before launching their career or getting an internship in their field of study.
That’s because on-campus jobs are usually flexible and convenient for students. They are generally easy to get to, even without transportation, and human resources and hiring managers understand that you are a student and build allowances for your studies into the offered roles.
For instance, most universities won’t let students work more than 20 hours on campus while actively taking classes. At the same time, campus roles provide great opportunities to learn important skills, gain work experience, and even help pay for college. If you are new to working, campus part-time jobs are great ways to experience the benefits of student employment.
Some positions are for anyone, and others offer great opportunities for the right student, with the right experience. A biology research lab technician job at the University of Massachusetts Boston, for instance, likely requires experience in biology as a field of study and familiarity with laboratories and their protocols. However, many jobs require no experience and are good chances to discover a passion or decide a major isn’t right for you. Having the right attitude and a professional cover letter and resume combine to make a great starting point.
Can International Students Work on Campus?
If you are concerned that international students on F-1 visas are not allowed to work in the US, there are rules that will help you better understand what is and what is not available to student visa holders. International students looking to earn some spending money, gain experience in a specific field, or even try a position not related to their major can usually find on-campus roles at US universities that are available to them.
Jobs for F-1 visa students fall into several different categories: In addition to on-campus roles, there are more formal types of employment and internships, such as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) positions. Most often, CPT roles are for when you are still pursuing your degree, and OPT roles are available after you finish. If you are ready to take the next professional step, it’s good to learn how to apply for OPT and CPT status before you start the process and also to explore career development programs at your university.
For on-campus roles for international students, there are other specific rules:
You cannot work more than 20 hours per week while taking classes
You cannot apply to an on-campus job more than 30 days before your program’s start
You must receive permission from your university’s international student office before you can start
Your F-1 student visa status must be maintained
Make sure you check the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on-campus job rules for F-1 students before applying to a role if you are unsure whether you are eligible.
How Can an International Student Get an on Campus Job?
If you are wondering how to get an on-campus job, remember that there are several different positions with different application requirements. Most roles will require you to fill out the appropriate documentation with your international student office, apply for the role online, interview, and start. Some positions may have different requirements, so always be sure to read the description closely and talk with your advisor to learn more.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common steps to obtaining on campus jobs for students from different countries:
Fill out the Correct Paperwork
Fortunately, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department does not require additional paperwork for students on F-1 visas looking for on-campus employment. However, each school has different paperwork requirements, so it’s important to check in with yours before beginning your process.
Your school will have its own policies and procedures for international students to get approved to work at an on-campus job. For example, if you are an international student studying at Florida International University, you still must obtain an on-campus employment certification from the school’s department of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS). Louisiana State University reminds students they need the following before they can work on campus:
Valid unexpired passport
Valid unexpired I-20 form
Your most recent I-94 printout
Apply for the Job
Applying for an on-campus job may be as simple as filling out a form on your university’s student employment gateway. Many schools, such as Cleveland State University and the University of South Carolina, use the Handshake third-party application to manage their on-campus job listings. Third-party applications may even include help with career-building resources and opportunities to connect with hiring managers.
If you are looking for more info on how to write a resume for an on-campus job or what on-campus part-time jobs are available, make sure you start by creating a career action plan and speaking with your university employment advisors.
Fill out Tax Information
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), all international students and scholars on F or J visas must file Form 8843, even if they do not earn an income while studying in the United States. If you earn money, you will likely have to fill out Form 1040-NR as well.
It’s important that you understand the tax requirements and the resources available for tax preparation. If you are only working an on-campus job, your taxes should be easy to fill out; however, there are services available to help students fill out their taxes.
After you have been approved to apply for an on-campus job, gotten hired, and complied with all pre-hire procedures, all that’s left is to show up to work! Remember to be professional and take your work seriously, even if you are working an on-campus job not associated with your career. Employers are always looking for recommendations and an on-campus manager is a great resource for a positive review that can speak to your skills and work ethic.
Which Career Skills Can I Build with an On-Campus Job?
Employers value the skills many on-campus jobs help you develop, such as people- and project-management skills. They want to know that you can work with a larger group consisting of many types of people and like to see a track record of professionalism and trustworthiness before they hire for starting positions. Many on-campus jobs will help you develop these skills and more.
Here are a few examples of skills you can expect to learn at your on-campus job:
Having a job, studying for class, maintaining a social life, and participating in extracurricular activities, all at the same time, takes time-management skills. No matter which job you take on campus, you will be able to put time-management skills on your resume and cover letter, as long as you are successfully juggling several responsibilities.
If handling your job and class responsibilities gets overwhelming, remember that you are in the United States to pursue your education and your classes come first. If you need academic support, you may want to think twice about looking for a job until you feel confident you can manage multiple priorities.
Customer Service Skills
From barista to library attendant to campus ambassador, many on-campus roles require interaction with customers, students, or people you must serve as part of your employment. Being courteous, professional, and helpful are important skills to employers who hire sales, marketing, and customer support personnel. If you are curious about these professions, you can think of an on-campus role as an opportunity to test your interest in sales, business-to-consumer jobs, or human resource work.
Most college students know a thing or two about being on a fixed budget. Working an on-campus job will not make you a millionaire, but it could be your opportunity to save for spring break, a concert coming through town, or a special outfit for a job interview. These skills may not fit on your resume, but will help you as you move from entry-level to experienced professional.
Learning how to Work with a Variety of People
United States university campuses are very diverse and may have many types of people you may not have encountered back home. Being part of your new campus community, including your on-campus job experiences, may expose you to new types of people with different beliefs, backgrounds, and life experiences. Having an inclusive, professional experience shows that you are ready to learn from and work with all types of people and contribute to one of the biggest working on-campus benefits.
Your on-campus supervisor will be happy to have an employee they can trust. Show that you are trustworthy and can assume responsibility and you will gain a possible resource later on when you need a recommendation from a previous employer.
One way you learn responsibility at your on-campus job is to take initiative. If your boss needs a shift covered or the professor you’re assisting needs extra help grading papers, be ready to help out where you are needed. Being a team player is another great way to get a recommendation for your next role.
Many jobs on campus require multitasking skills. Administrative assistants have to juggle schedules, build presentations, and help with paperwork. Research assistants may work on multiple projects, while campus roles in the dining hall or at a restaurant on campus means working through the busy dinner rushes. Time to practice multitasking is a big working on campus benefit. Stay focused on the many tasks that make up your on-campus job and you will be better prepared for your first off-campus role.
In the real world, you have to handle sensitive material, work in noisy settings, reach compromises with people you do not see eye-to-eye with, and manage more than one responsibility at the same time. Getting through each day accounts for real-world experience; as you face new challenges each day, you become better at navigating the twists and turns of life in stride.
Combining real-world experience with maturity and respect means you’re building professionalism. Let’s face it, on-campus jobs aren’t always the highest on the ladder. You may have to do some unpleasant tasks, from emptying the trash to dealing with angry customers, but handling these roles with professionalism means showing up on time, behaving respectfully, and doing each job well, no matter how big or small.
How On-Campus Jobs Helped One Student Build His Career Skills
When it came time to find a campus job, Htet knew he wanted to find a work-study experience supporting his fellow Shorelight students. Htet, a Myanmar native, loves making new connections and loves his adopted home, the University of Utah. Working with fellow international students at the Utah Global office was a natural fit.
Through his work as a student support specialist, Htet is not only building a stronger resume, he is also making new friends and learning about other cultures. We caught up with him to talk about his work study experience at Utah Global and how he helps his fellow international students acclimate and connect on campus.
Q: How Did You Find Your Campus Job? What Was the Process Like?
Htet: I remember how it felt to be welcomed so warmly and wanted to help other students have as great an experience as I did, so I signed up for volunteering. After working with new international students with their arrival and orientation, I was invited to become part of the team that helps Utah Global students. Now, I am employed part-time as a student support specialist.
Q: What Is Your Day-to-Day Like?
Htet: I have a busy schedule between classes and assignments and my job on campus. Part of my responsibilities include working with students to answer any questions that come up with their classwork, their housing, or life in general here in Utah.
Q: What Do You Love Most About Your Work-Study Job?
Htet: The thing that I like most is all the new people I meet, from all over the world. When I talk with these people, I share my experiences and learn about theirs, too. Learning to communicate with people from all different backgrounds is a great skill for my CV and my future in the global workforce.
Q: What Are the Biggest Challenges?
Htet: My job is to make international students feel at home. People come from many different cultures and have different ways of communicating, so it’s all about finding the right solutions to meet every unique situation. I make it a point to follow up with students who need extra assistance to make sure they are getting the attention they need to succeed.
Learning to communicate with people from all different backgrounds is a great skill for my CV and my future in the global workforce.” — Htet, Computer Science 2022, University of Utah
Q: What Is the Most Important Thing You Are Learning That You Might Not Learn in the Classroom?
Htet: I’ve learned that if you look hard enough, you can find the answer to any question. And if you ask questions, people can help you find what you’re looking for. By exploring the resources on campus, I was able to discover services that have helped me develop my career and make the most of my time at university.
Q: What Advice Would You Give to Other International College Students Looking for a Campus Job or Student Employment?
Htet: The working on campus benefits of doing an internship are many. Getting an internship opens a lot of doors. Typically, once a student graduates and starts looking for a job, having an internship on your resume increases the likelihood of getting hired. I’m so grateful to have learned this early on in my journey.
Need Help Finding an On-Campus Job at Your University?
There are many working on campus benefits – and international students can take advantage of them! Make sure to reach out to your Shorelight representative to learn more about which types of jobs you are eligible for as a student on an F-1 visa.