How To: Work Off-Campus

By: Mandy Seiner, Class of 2018

Many students find it crucial to work an internship or job during the school year and/or over the summer, as they find that it can be a source of income and give them a foot in the door for their particular industry. There are many opportunities available on campus, but also a whole world outside of the Emerson bubble where one can find countless great openings.

There are a variety of resources for Emerson students to utilize when looking and applying for jobs and internships. Handshake, accessible through the eCommon, is a database for positions geared toward Emerson students. It lists both paid and unpaid internships and opportunities. This past year, the college saw a 34% increase in posted paid internships over unpaid ones in the past three years. Emerson Career Services offers a variety of events, workshops, and resources to assist students in finding positions. These include things like internship fairs and resume workshops. The office has walk-in hours Monday through Friday 1:00-3:00. An additional unofficial, but incredibly useful resource for jobs and internships, both while a student and postgrad, is the Emerson Mafia Facebook page. It is a social media group with more than 13,000 Emerson students and alumni, where jobs are posted and connections are sought.

I personally found it great to work an off-campus job during my sophomore year at Emerson. Using the website I found and was hired at a high-end pen and stationery store located in the Prudential Center, a 15-minute walk from campus. Working with non-Emerson students gave me an opportunity to engage with people and events outside of the school’s bubble. I learned a lot about pens and the pen industry (a surprisingly entertaining topic I’ve brought up at parties to great success) and got to know some adults in the area, such as my boss and managers, who proved to be great resources and mentors for me, a young adult newly living very far from home. For these reasons, I encourage anyone who is interested to seek a job off campus, as doing so gives you space to engage with the city and community on a new level.

I also worked an off-campus internship at 826 Boston, a Bigfoot themed tutoring and creative writing center for underserved students ages 6-18 in the Boston area. This proved helpful for many of the same reasons as my job at the pen store, but had additional pros and cons. It gave me more of a foot in the door in the education field, which is what I want to work in, and offered me a whole host of new experiences that affected me greatly, but was unpaid. Unpaid internships are highly controversial, as the positions are often very similar to paid ones and they are inaccessible to those who are not financially secure. Some organizations offer a stipend or cover travel costs, but not all. I was lucky in that my supervisors allowed me to be flexible with my hours, work on the projects I was most interested in, and take home food from the office kitchen and events all as courtesies because their non-profit budget did not allot for monetary payment for me. These are definitely things to keep in mind when weighing the pros and cons of taking an unpaid position.

Working on campus is a great experience as well (I’ve also had three different on-campus jobs, including the one in the Parent and Family Programs that allows me to write these blog posts!), offering chances to get to know fellow students and learn about the structure of the college. However, I would urge any student who is interested in expanding their horizons and meeting new people in the city to look at positions off campus!

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