Tips to Find an On-Campus Job (From a USC Career Center Intern)

Original article from Trojans360 written by Emily Quintanilla ’24

It’s never too late to find an on-campus job. Trust me, I didn’t hear back from my work-study job until Thanksgiving break of my sophomore year. Over the course of three months, I had applied to dozens of on-campus jobs to no avail. Between midterms and holiday stress, I was discouraged and defeated. I was convinced I wouldn’t find a job at all that year if I hadn’t secured one already. Out of the blue, I landed an interview at the USC Career Center. Two years later, I was promoted to Lead Student Engagement Intern. 

The Career Center is the university’s hub of on-campus employment opportunities. Most schools and departments use connectSC, the center’s proprietary job board, to advertise their open positions to students. The Career Center even hosts an on-campus job fair at the top of each semester to directly connect students and USC staff. The fair features both work-study and non-work-study positions. 

No matter the time of year, the most frequently asked question I get at the front desk is: How do I find an on-campus job? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

photo credit: ridven_celik

Start with a Great Resume.

A resume is the employer’s first impression of a student, so tailor your resume to how you want to be seen. Are you professional, organized, or maybe even creative? Have your resume reflect that. If you’re a freshman looking for your first job, your resume’s content might look different from that of a graduating senior. It’s great to use volunteer experiences or extracurricular activities to highlight your key skills regardless of your school year. Making a good first impression also relies heavily on your resume’s format. Resources like VMock, LinkedIn, and even the Career Center have great resources to construct a clean looking resume. The Career Center also hosts in-person drop-in hours every Monday – Friday from 1 – 3:30 p.m. exclusively for resume and cover letter review. I highly recommend dedicating time to improving your resume before sending it out to employers.

Apply for Jobs that Work with Your Class Schedule

USC students (like yourself) are undoubtedly qualified for all kinds of on-campus jobs. However, you’d be surprised at how many applications are overlooked based on a student’s availability. Most on-campus departments are open between 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. when most students have classes. Your experience or knowledge may not be the problem – you may just be a really busy student! Your first priority should be school, so applying to jobs that work for your schedule may optimize your chances of landing an interview. Some job postings will be clear about what times they need student coverage. When in doubt, feel free to ask to see if the position is the right fit for you. 

Utilize Job Boards, Social Media, and Your Network to Find Jobs

In terms of finding jobs to apply for, connectSC is a great way to start your on-campus job search and to see what USC departments are hiring. However, I’ll be the first to admit that the platform doesn’t have the greatest success record. Due to the high volume of applicants on connectSC job postings, some students may never hear back from USC departments. Or, depending on what time of the year you are applying, it may seem like there is hardly anything available on connectSC.

When looking for an on-campus job, step outside of the box! My favorite way to look for job opportunities is through social media, primarily Instagram. I follow USC departments like Student Life (@uscstudentlife), school-based career centers like Dornsife Career Pathways (@uscdornsifecp), and resource centers like the First Gen Plus Success Center (@firstgenplussc). These accounts, and many others, repost current on-campus job opportunities year-round. 

Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends or even faculty if they’ve heard about any job opportunities on-campus. Speaking from experience, not all jobs are advertised. Make sure you keep your eyes open, there are on-campus opportunities everywhere if you’re paying attention!

Be Patient

I know finding an on-campus job can be a frustrating and, at times, a time-consuming experience. However, my biggest piece of advice is to remain patient and positive. It’s normal to not hear back from employers or to get rejected a few times! This does not reflect your skills or capabilities. Many USC students are going through the exact same process as you. Start the process as early as you can (most on-campus departments hire at the beginning of each semester) and utilize all the resources you have as a USC student to improve your chances of landing an on-campus job!

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By Emily Quintanilla
Emily Quintanilla