Workin’ hard for the money

Sarah Marriot enjoys her job working at the information desk in the Student Activity Center. She has a flexible work schedule, makes $6.50 an hour and can even do her schoolwork when things are slow.

Sarah Marriot enjoys her job working at the information desk in the Student Activity Center. She has a flexible work schedule, makes $6.50 an hour and can even do her schoolwork when things are slow. In spite of these job perks, Marriot recently put in her two-week notice.

“I’m not making enough money,” said Marriot, a junior majoring in tourism and hospitality. She explained that it is simply impossible to survive on her current wages. Plus, because her job at the Student Center is work-study, she can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week, but does not know where to look next.

“I have no idea, probably not on campus because none of the campus jobs pay very well at all,” Marriot said.

Almost all Temple students eligible for financial aid are eligible for a work-study job on campus, said Mentha Strothers, assistant director of Student Financial Services (SFS). About half of students eligible for work-study jobs take advantage of the opportunity.

“Some students want to work, and they work from their freshmen year to their senior year… some students aren’t interested in working,” Strothers said. “Some students, as freshmen, come in and they say ‘I want to try it out (not have a job) for the semester and see how I do.’ ”

Strothers said the average on-campus work-study wage is about $6.50 an hour. Undergraduate students are paid between $5.15 an hour and $8 an hour for all campus work-study positions.

The average work-study grant for the 2004-2005 academic school year was about $750 per semester, said Strothers. For some students, having a job on campus is the perfect blend of fun, convenience and extra cash.

“I don’t really need that much money. And if I wanted to get a job off campus, I think it would cost me more money to get there. Here, it’s just walking from my apartment or coming right from class,” said Brian Garcia, a sophomore criminal justice major who works in the Independence Blue Cross gym. “Most of my friends work here, actually. We’re a big group.”

Garcia works about 12 hours per week and is paid $5.25 an hour, 10 cents more than minimum wage. Working at the IBC is a relatively easy, but boring job, he explained.

“Everyone’s very laid back. It’s really hard to mess up what you’re doing-you have to try,” Garcia said. “The longer you work it gets really boring. Last semester I worked two days, the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. shift, and that gets kind of boring.” Not all students work on campus, however. Over 1,000 students attended the recent part-time job fair at Mitten Hall.

“The purpose of this event is that students come back to school, and a huge percentage of Temple students want part-time jobs, cash to survive,” said John Arentzen, Experimental Learning Coordinator of the Temple Career Development Center.

Arentzen explained that off-campus jobs pay at least as well, if not better than work-study employment.

“The wages on campus are priced pretty competitive because people know that they have to hold the same, but I’m sure some of these jobs will pay better than the on-campus jobs. They’d be at least be the same or better,” Artenzen said. “Some of these jobs are commission driven and … you can do really well. It’s like if you’re a waitress, and you get really good tips. It’s going to be hard to compete with that.”

For serious cash and even more serious experience, students can delay a semester of school and participate in cooperative-education or “co-op” for a semester with an employer of their choice. Most students work in their field of study in order to gain valuable contacts for the post-graduation job search.

“Employers usually use internships or co-ops as a way to recruit people to full time positions after graduation,” explained Arentzen. “It takes away the mystery. It’s a win-win situation for everybody, that’s the great thing about it.”

To have a co-op through the university, students need to have at least a cumulative 2.5 GPA. A student must perform their co-op anywhere between second semester of their sophomore year and first semester of their senior year. Many freshmen choose not to work their first semester of college. Strothers said students’ employment status quickly changes when they realize they are low on cash.

“That first semester [freshmen] don’t want a job. But then it’ll be Christmas time and they’ll want a job because they want to buy presents,” she joked.

Freshmen Ashley Clark, a psychology major, had no trouble finding a work-study job at the campus bookstore. She applied for the job when she came to orientation this summer.

Clark, who obtained a work-study job, earns $7 an hour and works 5 to 6 hours a week, just enough for some extra cash.

“I don’t need [money],” Clark said. “I didn’t want a big job…Next year maybe.”

Beyond the initial scramble for books and supplies in the first weeks of the semester, Clark said working at the bookstore is a comfortable, undemanding job.

“It’s so easy,” she said. “They’re so lenient and nice. I was supposed to work till 5 p.m. today, and I asked to leave early, and he was like, ‘Oh, OK, that’s fine,’ ” Clark said. While on-campus employment pay is fine for those like Clark, others such as Marriot simply need more money, regardless of the benefits of an on-campus job.

“It’s a fun job,” she said of working at the Student Center. “I’ve made a lot of friends here. I’ll be sad to leave.”

Samantha Davis can be reached at

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