By Diego Garcia, SEAHEC Guest Blogger, University of Notre Dame

November 27, 2017

This past semester, I have been working in the office of the Notre Dame Physics Department as a Secretary. I mostly stamp exam books for the department, work on small projects, and do clerical work. I really enjoy the job; it’s simple, pays well, and gives me exposure to the physics department at ND. That final aspect about the job is the reason I chose to work here. I intend on beginning research in physics next semester, and I feel that working here allows me to learn what each professor researches and exposes me to opportunities I might not otherwise know about.

I realize most high school students don’t have a good idea of what work-study is and how exactly it works – I know I didn’t. Work-study is basically a way to pay off your student loans and tuition. Before beginning a semester, one can choose to participate in work-study. The Office of Financial Aid of the university then includes the predicted amount of money that student will make from working into the financial aid package.

In work-study, students work short hours for a library, facility, market, shop, etc. that belongs to the university. At some universities, a student gets paid directly and can keep that money or use it to pay the amount outlined in his/her financial package – that’s how it works here at ND. At other universities, however, the money a student earns from work-study goes directly to his/her financial aid package. Students can also use money they earn from scholarships to pay the work-study money outlined in the financial package and thus keep the work money to themselves.

If you know you will participate in a work-study program at your university, try to find a job that best suits your interests before arriving to campus. Most students tend to look for desk jobs with a lot of free time where they can study and complete homework. These are taken quickly, so it is important to begin applying as soon as possible. Also, depending on the university you attend, there may also be jobs available for undergraduates that reflect your career interests. These are great as you can gain valuable experience from them.

Work-study programs are a great way of paying off your student loans to the university. The best jobs are those you can study while working and those that provide experience you can use in your future career. My biggest advice is to get scholarships while in high school that could cover the amount of work-study outlined in the financial package. From that, apply to jobs early as they tend to fill quickly.