5 Ways College Students Can Advance Their Career Prospects When Money’s Tight

There’s no need to mince words: college isn’t cheap.

Tuition prices continue to rise year-over-year, as does competition within today’s university system in terms of admission.

To make ends meet, many students are expected to hold down on a job as they pursue their studies. Doing so is nothing new, but can be quite challenging for those talking on heavy course-loads or otherwise intense majors.

This begs the question: what can career-driven students on a budget do to ensure that they aren’t missing out on opportunities to develop while on college? When you’re constantly working just to make sure you aren’t missing rent, is it possible to get some much-needed experience that’ll carry over beyond graduation?

The answer for students is a resounding “yes,” all regardless of your current financial or college situation. Here are five ideas for students looking to advance their careers while in school.

Study Abroad

Taking a trip to work or study abroad might seem totally backward if you’re pinching pennies, right?

However, consider that study abroad programs might be more affordable than you’ve been led to believe. For starters, they can represent a sort of “all-in-one” experience where you not get to spend time in somewhere totally new, but also earn college credit and career insights which you simply can’t get domestically.

Study abroad programs are fantastic resume-boosters and great talking points during interviews. If you’re on the fence, look into some key sources of financial aid to study abroad including scholarships and grants.

Take on Some Internships

Especially for juniors and seniors in college, paid internships are a sort of holy grail. Not only are you able to earn some cash, but also gain invaluable work experience and references that can carry you to a full-time gig.

Simply bear in mind that paid internships in particular are highly competitive. More likely than not, your school has a career services department that helps students find and apply for positions. Make sure that you get in touch with such resources as early as possible and be open-minded in terms of what’s available.

Even if the pay or experience isn’t seemingly “perfect,” you never know what it could eventually turn into.

On a related note, the debate over unpaid internships and whether or not students should take them in a rightfully contentious one. If there’s a dream internship out there that’s unpaid, you might be able to make it work around a part-time schedule with some finessing. Explaining your situation to whoever’s running your internship program is always a good idea.

Look into a Work Study Program

Working on campus is a prime option for students who want to keep some serious money in their pockets while also staying career-focused.

Think about it. Not having to worry about excessive travel costs and double-dipping work and school is a huge win-win.

There are a variety of federal work study jobs available, all of which come with the understanding that you’re a student and need a sense of work-life balance.

Schedule More Hands-On Classes

You might be surprised at the sort of career experience is available to you via your course load.

For example, engineering students can use their final projects on their real-world resumes. Similarly, many English departments offer “classes” which allow students to work on campus literary journals in exchange for credit. When scouring your course catalog, be on the lookout for such courses which go beyond traditional papers and lectures.

In a day and age where employers are looking for real-world skills, these sorts of hands-on classes are invaluable. You should have up any opportunity to use your credit hours to beef up your skill set.

When in Doubt, Continue Working Part-Time

Finally, don’t discount the ability for you to simply work a part-time job on the side.

Even if you’re working something that’s not exactly “glamorous” or career-focused such as food service, the work ethic of holding a job while in college is something that employers will admire.

Furthermore, bear in mind that there are companies that help employees pay for college. Whether your part-time employer is investing in your education now or down the line, such a commitment could be exactly what gets you where you want to go employment-wise.

There’s no denying that finding a balance between paying the bills and earning college credit is a tough one, especially in the face of high tuition costs. That said, working students can combine relevant work opportunities and their studies with a bit of planning. No matter what career path you’re on, just know that there are options out there to advance your career.