Out of all the dreaded phrases in the college dictionary — final exam, forced triple, freshman fifteen — perhaps one of the most dreaded is “student job." On top of everything else you have to do in a day, who wants to trek to the dining hall to serve messy mashed potatoes to your ungrateful peers, or answer phones all day long in some stuffy basement office? For some students, work-study is a necessary component of their financial aid plan, and for others, working is just a way to bring in a few extra bucks each week. But for everyone, student jobs are boring, thankless, and a total pain…right?
Not necessarily. Some lucky students managed to find jobs off the beaten path—jobs that are rewarding, fun, and totally cool. They looked beyond the usual titles of “administrative assistant," “food service worker” and “barista” to find jobs that suited their interests, schedules, and goals, and found some hidden gems in the sea of menial labor, and as a result, work is something they actually WANT to do, not just a necessary annoyance.
Naia Bonet, a sophomore at Cornell University, works as a campus correspondent for Universal Pictures. She promotes Universal films on campus through print and radio advertising, and she hosts events throughout the year in collaboration with campus organizations. Since she wants to go into the film industry after school, she finds that the job suits her career goals and allows room for creativity and fun at the same time. “It’s cool because I get to decide what kind of event I want to do for each movie, based on the relevant audience, so it gives me a good taste of the film marketing industry,” she said. “I can host social events, like for when I was promoting American Pie: Book of Love, or film screenings for more highbrow pictures like Inglorious Bastards.”
She also gets tons of perks, like free merchandise from Universal — “My friends and I all bring our Wolfman cups wherever we go,” she said — and the chance to go to an LA movie premiere, if she generates more creative ideas than any other Universal campus correspondent in the country. “The possibility of going to the premiere motivates me to do the best job I can at every event,” she said. “I’m up for the challenge.”
If you can’t find a cool job that matches your career goal, however, never fear. There are plenty of awesome jobs that don’t require any sort of professional aspirations, and they can be just as fun, and just as rewarding. Meredith Leeman, a student at Barnard College in New York City, decided to try something totally new when searching for a job: bartending. She registered with the Barnard Bartending Agency, which sends her to parties all over New York City, mixing drinks for everyone from SoHo artists to Upper East Side socialites. She loves the job because it allows her the freedom to make her own hours and the excitement of expanding her horizons: “I get to work when I want, while my friends with other jobs need to fit their schedules around their jobs. Plus I get to learn how to bartend and spend time at fun parties in cool apartments all over the city!”
Even if your school doesn’t have a bartending agency, you can look into tending a local bar on your own; you only need to be 18 to become a bartender. Hayley Kerstein, a Cornell junior, recently quit her job as a food service worker and trained to become a bartender at a local pub. She finds bartending to be a much more stimulating and fun experience: “It really leaves room for creativity…every bartender puts their own twist on how they do their job,” she said. "It allows me to show my own personal style while I work, and have fun at the same time.”
If you’re looking for something a little more academic, you can even make money while you do schoolwork — kind of. Many university professors offer research assistant spots for students, in fields ranging from engineering to biology to social sciences. Melissa Quartner, a sophomore at Cornell, works as a research assistant to her social psychology professor and finds the job both academically and personally stimulating. “I run experiments with student volunteers as subjects, and attend research meetings with the lab staff to discuss them,” she said. "It’s fun and interesting to be involved in research that can be really influential in social psychology, and it’s a great job because it relates to what I want to do after school.”