On-Campus Jobs for International Students in the US
Learn about 9 possible job types available on US campuses.
If you’re an international student in the US, it is quite likely that your family, has worked hard to save up to fund your education abroad; or perhaps they have even taken a hefty loan to get you here. Even if you are one of the lucky ones to have gotten a scholarship, for college students extra spending money is always hard to come by, hence who would say no to making some extra cash?
Unfortunately the US F1 Visa (your international student visa) is very restrictive when it comes to employment. Their argument is that, if you’re a full-time student, why should you be working. And, if you’re able to prove you have the money to study in the US, why do you need a job. However, putting these ‘supposedly-logical’ arguments aside, the F1 Visa does allow some exceptions in terms of the type of work international students can undertake; one such exception is on-campus employment, up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.
Here are some ways you can make money as an international student on a US campus:
- Traditional campus year-round departments: Whether it’s in the library, dining hall, or ticket taking at your college stadium, there are jobs that are part-time, on campus, easy to get, and allowed under the terms of your F1 visa status. Remember though, that you can only work a maximum of 20 hours to remain in status. The best place to start with your on-campus job hunt is your school’s HR or Career Services webpage.
- Campus newspaper/other publications: Many on-campus magazines pay their student writers, editors, designers, photographers, and ad managers. It’s a great way to gain experience if your work is connected with your field of study, which gives a publication job an advantage over other campus jobs that are typically administrative.
- Teaching/research assistant: Schools are also always looking for research and teaching assistants. You’re more likely to be eligible for this if you’re a graduate student, although there are possibilities even at the undergraduate level. Note that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that working off-campus for a university affiliated lab counts as on-campus employment. And how do you find that off-campus research job? That’s where tip #4 comes in handy!
- Opportunities acquired through professors: Building a rapport with your professors is helpful for many reasons—it gives you more insight into how to do better in class, it makes them feel invested in you as a person AND it opens you up to job opportunities before they’re posted or shared online. The easiest jobs to get are the ones that aren’t listed yet. So make sure to keep in touch with your professors, demonstrate your work ethic and let them know you’re looking for campus work.
- Fundraising office on campus:This is tough work but useful to do. It usually involves calling alumni and asking for money. As many people don’t want to do it, it’s a great way to make cash and get bonuses.
- Student government and paid student activities positions: Your university MAY have some positions that are open to students, aren’t traditional jobs, but do pay a stipend. For example, some student government and student club positions offer stipends. If you’re interested in that type of work, what better way to boost your resume, make money, and participating in an activity you enjoy? Chat with your student activities director to see what your options are.
- Summer jobs on campus: This is the season for campus tours, advertising to promising future students, and much more. Because fewer students are on campus during the summer you have more options if you’re in-town to get a good job.
- Visible roles/ambassador roles: Orientation Leader, International Student Ambassador, Residents’ Assistant—these are all visible, paid roles where you get to display your leadership and public speaking skills (good skills to learn regardless of your major) while being a representative for your school with prospective and current students. Your international experience makes your college look good and can boost your application for these positions.
- Studies, surveys, other on-campus research: This is not regular income, but nice pocket change. For example, a psychology class in your school may announce for students to take part in a paid survey. USD50 from such a one-hour survey can easily cover the cost of a few meals.
There you have it: 9 easy, by-the-book ways you can make money on a US campus as an international student. In our upcoming posts, we’ll cover off-campus employment while you’re still in school (curricular practical training) and how to prepare for using your OPT (optional practical training) after graduation.
About the author: Mishri Someshwar is a communications coach who loves helping high achievers prepare for job interviews, speeches, presentations and more. She is a native of Bangalore, India and moved to the US in 2003 to attend college at American University in Washington, DC.