Is Working On or Off Campus Better?

By Ashley Tripp, Student at the University of Alabama

You see them everywhere on campus: baristas at Starbucks, front desk assistants, sales associates at the college bookstores, resident assistants, lifeguards, food servers, cashiers at the dining halls and support staff at recreational centers.

Every year, universities hire thousands of students for on-campus jobs. The goal of student employment is to help students finance their education as well as prepare them for the job market by incorporating fundamental skills and gaining lifelong values.

However, many students opt to find jobs off campus as well.

After talking with college students at the University of Alabama who have either on- or off-campus jobs, I discovered that their job experiences have both positive and negative advantages.

Trinity Stennfeld, a junior public relations student, works both on and off campus as a photographer for ZAP Photography and as a barista at Java City.

“I love interacting with a wide variety of students and faculty members,” Stennfeld said. “Both jobs are accommodating to my class schedule as a student.”

Stennfeld said a benefit of working with Java City on campus is the ability to walk to work. Stennfeld also said she still has time to take 15 hours and be involved in a sorority and campus ministry.

“Working for ZAP requires a lot of planning and organizing my schedule, but it’s definitely doable,” Stennfeld said. “It’s a good experience for life lessons and how to juggle responsibilities.”

In working with other students, Stennfeld said ZAP has taught her to have patience with people and to stay focused in a high-stress environment.

“It doesn’t always command a lot of respect,” Stennfeld said. “Sometimes I’m met with negative attitudes and rude behavior from the students at the events, but I have a positive outlook. I enjoy my job and feel like it influences me positively as a person.”

Stennfeld has become recognizable all across campus. While working at Walt Disney World this past summer, Stennfeld ran into a fellow student that recognized her from Java City.

“There was a guy behind me in line at Mickey’s Philharmagic wearing a ‘Crimson Chaos’ T-shirt,” Stennfeld said. “We struck up a conversation about Alabama and I was talking about where I work. Then, all the sudden, he realized that’s where he had recognized me from.”

Kelly Roy, a sophomore communicative disorders student, recently got a job as a sales associate at Coldwater Creek.

Roy said the only negative aspect of working off campus is the commute and having to factor in plenty of time for possible traffic or train delays.

“You just have to learn time management and how to get out of procrastination habits,” Roy said.

But having a job off campus can also mean less flexibility when it comes to getting off work for school events.

“Luckily, there are few college students working there and a lot of my co-workers are willing to fill in for football games on Saturdays,” Roy said. “The real problem for me is wanting to go home on holidays, because even though the university is closed, the store is still open.”

Alli Segal, a junior psychology student, spends her time as a desk assistant at a residential hall. Segal said she got her job through other friends on campus that work there.

“I like getting to know the residents,” Segal said. “It’s challenging trying to be their friend but also look out for them as the desk assistant.”

Image courtesy of posterize /

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