By Mel Beasley, CSB Marketing Assistant
Now that we’ve discussed how to apply for a federal work-study award in our previous blog post, it’s time to talk about how to actually find and land a work-study position at your university. It’s important to keep in mind that the application process might be competitive as there are only a limited number of open work-study positions available at any given school. Don’t expect to have a position handed to you simply because you have a work-study award. Just like any other job position, hiring managers treat work-study applicants as they would a permanent employee. They are looking for professionals who will take the position seriously and do a good job.
Here are some tips on how to find and apply for open work-study positions at your university.
Where can you find open work-study positions?
Most universities have some kind of job board that students can access when searching for on-campus positions, including work-study openings. At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, we call our job board Handshake. Students who create and set up their profiles on Handshake will have access to tons of job opportunities and can filter their search to look only for work-study if desired. Find out if your university has a job board available and set up an account right away to start looking.
Look for a position related to your field of study if possible
There’s nothing wrong with working a part-time job that has nothing to do with your desired career path because, hey, we all need to make a little extra cash once in a while. However, it’s recommended that students graduate with at least one or two positions related to their field that will make their resumes shine. Hiring managers are interested in taking on new recruits who have at least some experience in the field along with education.
Your first priority should be to find a position that will add true value to your resume. For example, if you are interested in the computer engineering field, see if there is an opening in IT for a work-study position. If you can’t find anything directly related to your field of study, start applying to the next best thing. Look for positions that will employ skills you might need in your career later on. If you are interested in working in leadership, there are certainly skills you can practice with an office administration position that would have a correlation to leadership. Think creatively about how each position can help beef up your resume.
Apply with an updated cover letter and resume
You’d be surprised how often students apply to positions using cover letters that list an old hiring manager’s name. Some students have even used cover letters addressed to completely different jobs other than the ones they’re applying for. Don’t let this be you. Again, work-study positions are not guaranteed. Take the hiring process seriously by updating your resume and cover letter to match the position you’re applying to.
Now, we understand that professional writing can be challenging for some people. That’s okay. It’s hard to write about ourselves, let alone decide on what skills will catch an employer’s attention. Thankfully, students at UNCW have many resources available to help you. If you need advice on your resume and cover letter, visit the university Career Center to meet with someone who can help. Business students can also visit the Cameron School of Business Career Center, where they can give more pointed advice based on your career tract.
Prepare for the interview ahead of time
This may sound elementary, but if you set up an interview, you should actually show up. Don’t expect a hiring manager to reschedule with you. If you end up involved in a real emergency, be sure to give the hiring manger as much notice as possible. Calling five minutes before the interview to reschedule is going to look pretty fishy!
Make sure to use your manners with all correspondents. If you’re emailing back and forth, be sure to use proper greetings and salutations at the beginning and end of your emails. Don’t use casual language. This is not your buddy you’re speaking to, this is your potential boss. Show respect and professionalism and proofread your email before sending it off.
Dress for success and don’t be late. In other words, don’t stumble into the office wearing sweatpants and a tank top. This is an interview. Keep things business casual. Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager what the dress code is beforehand. Make sure you know where the interview is located and walk or drive by the day before to make sure you know where you’re going. Being late doesn’t make a good first impression.
Finally, prepare for the interview. Make sure you can answer questions on your resume if asked. Do a little research on the kind of position you’re applying for and look up potential interview questions that might be asked. Google is an extraordinary place to look up information, so don’t overlook that as an asset for prepping for an interview. Practice answering questions aloud to yourself so you don’t stammer during the interview.
Check out Cameron School of Business's Guide to Career Success online for more tips on resumes and cover letters, interviewing and more!