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Options for Working While Going to School

November 13, 2020

Earning a college degree is a major accomplishment. It takes years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to complete a degree program. In addition, many college students struggle to find a job that will not interfere with their class schedule while being a full-time student. Luckily, there are programs designed to help students find a job that allows them to earn money and gain valuable work experience while in college.

The first program designed to help students find part-time jobs that will work with their class schedule, and help them make ends meet, is the Work Study Program. When filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid students can also apply for Work Study and if they meet certain criteria they may be eligible for Work Study. If a student is eligible, they simply need to accept the Work Study grant much like accepting a FAFSA loan. 

So what is Work Study? The Work Study program is a federal assistance program that pays students for working rather than the employer paying the students. Having Work Study allows you to work for many different departments and in many different jobs on a college campus. Work Study jobs will often work around your class schedule, while paying at least the federal minimum wage. The amount of money Work Study will provide depends upon how early you apply for FAFSA, your level of financial need and your school’s funding level. Work Study funds are limited, so applying for FAFSA early will give you a better chance at receiving funding. 

Work Study jobs vary quite a bit. You could work as a lab assistant watching over a computer lab or you could work for an athletic department by maintaining and cleaning their equipment. However qualifying for Work Study will not guarantee you a job. You will need to find a job that requires Work Study and apply for the position.   

Another program offered by the Idaho State University that can help students earn money and job experience while in college is the Career Path Internship (CPI) program. 


What is a Career Path Internship?

The CPI Program is a paid internship program which allows students to gain hands-on, real world experience in their chosen course of study or an internship which aligns with the student’s career goals,” said Ambri Saigham, a CPI Coordinator “The program helps students connect with internships that will enhance their academic and professional careers including internships based in local organizations.” These internships can take place both on and off campus and can usually work around students’ school schedules. 


Where and how else can you find jobs on campus? 

“Utilize Handshake (The Career Center can help set your account up and show you how to navigate). Visit with your advisor, a professor/faculty member or admin office in your chosen department about possible internship opportunities. Don't wait! It is never too early to start an internship,” said Saigham. 

The CPI program is available to both undergraduate and graduate students at Idaho State. CPI jobs pay $9 per hour for undergraduate students or $11 an hour for graduate students for up to 20 hours of work a week.

The best part about CPI jobs is the work experience. Working as a CPI for a company can give you entry level experience in an industry that will allow you to apply for better positions once you graduate or get hired on full-time and provide you the chance to network and meet new people.

Another great advantage to working on or off campus is the ability to network and meet new people. A website called Business News Daily explains why networking is important: “If you ask anyone how they got where they are today, you'll quickly learn that many successful business professionals have connections. By interacting with others in your field, you learn what people outside your company or niche are doing. --You will also have ready access to a group of experts who can help you figure out the answers to your toughest questions,” (Business News Daily, 2020). 

To get a student’s perspective on being a CPI we asked two students at the College of Business how their job and internship benefited them. 

Ethan Pohl, who is currently majoring in general business, works at Idaho State’s bowling alley. He decided to get a job on campus “to earn money for school and better himself in the workforce.” The campus job benefited him by “being able to improve [his] resume and gave a chance to meet new people during these trying times.” 

Kenia Patch, an accounting major, was part of the CPI program and gave her thoughts as well. “This campus job has benefited me in many ways. I grew a better understanding of what type of accounting I wanted to do and reassured my love for the degree that I’ve chosen,” Patch continued “I’ve met so many wonderful people in this field who have helped me learn and grow. I think students should get a job on campus because it opens them up to so many opportunities.”

In conclusion, if you are looking for work while attending college, look for Work Study and CPI jobs first. Not only can you get paid while working hours that won't interfere with your classes, but you can also gain valuable work experience that will help propel you into better jobs once you graduate. If you are looking for a job or want to take part in the CPI program, you can contact the Career Center at and visit Handshake or Ambri Saighman at for CPI internships. You can also sign up for the College of Business’s newsletter, which lists available internships for business majors every week. You can do that by visiting the College’s webpage at and clicking on Professional Development > Newsletter Sign Up.