The Benefits of Going to College While Working

Going to College While Working

Meet Our Expert: Dawn Rasmussen

Dawn Rasmussen Career Expert

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Dawn Rasmussen is the author of “Forget Job Security: Build Your Marketability,” a frequent national speaker, a recognized career expert on, and a globally-recognized career advice blogger. Her work has been featured on Huffington Post Live, the Chicago Tribune, CBSMoneyWatch,, and Christian Science Monitor. Dawn was recently recognized as one of the top 100 Social Human Resource Experts on Twitter by the Huffington Post. When she isn’t busy helping clients, she is hiking in Oregon’s beautiful mountains with her husband Brad and their two dogs.

How to Work While Going to College

While loans and scholarships present a variety of ways to pay for college, the rising cost of education has increased the need for students to work, part time or full time, in addition to attending class. According to ThinkProgress, nearly 80% of students work while attending school. We sat down with Dawn Rasmussen, a recognized career expert, who offered insight on the benefits of working while obtaining your education, including what type of job students should pursue, and the challenges of working while in school.

Q: What are the benefits of working while going to college?

A: “Cash flow matters to a lot of students – [whether] for paying their tuition, books, living costs, or general living expenses. It’s the first time you are out from underneath your parent’s roof, and the urge to start building your life the way you want is very strong at this stage. And that usually means having cash to afford some of those things. So working during going to school is necessary for many students, and can provide some great experience that will make them attractive candidates to potential employers after they graduate.”

Q: What type of job should a college student look for?

A: “Ideally, you should look for a job or position within your target career field. Don’t worry, most new graduates will have 10 to 15 jobs across their entire lifetimes – so you aren’t going to be stuck doing the same thing for the rest of your life! But anything you can do based on what you think your career direction might be will help you be the best possible candidate. You get paid, you get experience, and you make contacts in your specific field – before you even graduate. It’s a win-win situation.”

Q: Should students pursue internships or part-time jobs?

A: “Any type of work should be considered.  Think of a career as stepping stones. You want to go from Point A to Point B – what is that next stepping stone that will get you closer to your goal? Sometimes part-time jobs, internships, or even contract work are that next step that gets you there.  Don’t rule things out immediately if they aren’t your precise dream job. Maybe they are the next important step that WILL take you to your dream job.”

Q: What are the challenges most students face when working and going to college?

A: “Finding employment while attending college can be both beneficial and stressful to students. Not only are they balancing classroom assignments, but job tasks as well. But the benefits outweigh the downsides. Depending on the type of job, it could be extremely relevant to the student’s career goals, and provide a head start for post-graduation job searches.  Employers value education, but they prize experience even more. So anything a student can do to add to their work experience that is relevant to the types of jobs for which they will be applying is considered valuable.  Additionally, balancing work and school can teach important prioritization and time management skills.  In the working world, challenges like these are frequently faced by professionals, and learning how to cope with competing priorities is a life-skill that can make students even more resourceful to employers.”

Q: What advice do you have for students to ensure success in both environments?

A: “Be eager to take on more than what you are asked. By showing initiative, while being realistic about what you can accomplish… well, you are showing what you are made of and that can impress employers.”

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