Around Campus
Article Image
@mratob_ /

Attending CU is incredibly expensive. From tuition to housing to the general cost of living in Manhattan, expenses can pose a burden on many students. However, Columbia and Barnard both partner with the Federal Work-Study program to provide financial assistance to students who demonstrate need by paying them for part-time work.

If you’ve been awarded FWS assistance (if you’re unsure of your work-study status, Columbians can check it on SSOL while Barnardigans have to go to the “Finances” tab on myBarnard), you’ve likely been thinking about what kind of job you’re interested in. Save yourself the time of scouring the Columbia and Barnard job-search websites and see if any of these top-rated on-campus FWS jobs fit your fancy.

As you search, remember that you’re technically only able to work for work-study up until you get paid the amount listed as your work-study contribution on your financial aid report. However, a lot of employers will let you stay on as a casual worker, allowing you to earn extra spending money.

But first!: Columbia students can search for on- and off-campus work-study options here,and Barnardigans can find their work-study options on BarnardWorks. If you open these links and find that the job pickings look a little thin, don’t worry. It’s still summer; more employers will submit their jobs once the fall semester gets closer.

One more thing!: Make sure you take advantage of Columbia’s Center for Career Education and Barnard’s Student Employment Services—they can point you in the right direction for all things related to work-study, jobs, and internships, whether they be on- or off-campus.

Administrative Assitant

Average wage: Around $13.50 per hour*

Ideal for: The organized do-er; a first-year with limited job experience

How can I apply? Columbia students can search for “Administrative Assistant” here and then look for a department that interests them. Barnard students can either try a similar method on BarnardWorks, but the school has also recommended that students should reach out to individual department administrators (contact info found in the Barnard Directory) to see if there’s an opening for a work-study student.

Details: Though the exact details of this position varies by department, you can generally expect normal administrative duties, such as answering phones, filing papers, and making spreadsheets. The great part is that you can try and tailor your job choice with your interests. For example, apply for the administrative assistant in the Columbia finance department if you’re a prospective finance major. You’ll be able to interact with faculty in the department on a daily basis, meaning you can ~network~ while you’re working. These positions are also great entry-level opportunities for first-years with limited job experience.

Fitness Center Attendant

Average wage: Around $13.50 per hour*

Ideal for: The personable friend; a first-year with limited job experience

How can I apply? Columbia students can find more details and application information for these positions here.

Details: Dodge Fitness Center has attendants checking you in at the door. Dodge also employs a large staff (there are 42 positions currently open) to enforce policies, run the equipment desk, and perform other tasks. Lifeguard positions at Dodge are also plentiful if you have the necessary qualifications and training.

Digital Media Assistant

Average wage: Around $15 to 17 per hour*

Ideal for: The tecchie

How can I apply? Search for “Digital Media Assistant” on your FWS database. If you’re having no luck, email the departments that you’re interested in to see if there are any openings available.

Details: Many campus departments and schools, including SEAS, look for videographers for live recordings of classes, campus events, and video production. Other departments, like the Language Resource Center, hire marketing assistants to help edit videos, photograph events, and research design trends.

Lab Assistant

Average wage: Around $15.25 per hour*

Ideal for: The budding scientist

How can I apply? Lab assistant positions are among the most coveted work-study jobs, so they’ll go fast. You could always search “Lab Assistant” in your FWS database, but we would also recommend:

  • Emailing specific labs on campus—you can find these by searching “Columbia/Barnard” + “labs in the [insert department of choice]” on Google.
  • Going to the research open house, which usually takes place in the first few weeks of school.
  • Going to the pre-med conference during NSOP, even if you’re not pre-med—someone there is bound to ask a question about these jobs.

Details: Though previous experience is usually preferred for these positions, you may find an opening that doesn’t have any prerequisites. Regardless, you’ll need basic bench research knowledge to successfully fill these roles.

Pro tip: CU’s biological services has nine open positions for the fall semester, and your main job would be to set up for experiments for the faculty. Keep in mind that this job is not a research assistant position, so you won’t have any involvement in actually performing the experiments. However, if you stick with this job for a semester or two and form a good relationship with your lab coordinator, this job may turn into a research position in the future.

The Columbia Daily Spectator

Average wage: Around $12 to $15 per hour

Ideal for: Anybody interested in journalism, business, graphic design, photography and videography, product development, coding, data analysis, etc. (hey, that’s pretty much everyone!). Also anyone who wants to make a lasting impact on this campus and love their job so much it doesn’t feel like a job (not that we’re biased or anything).

How can I apply? The application to join Spec doesn’t start until we have our first open houses during NSOP and the first few weeks of school. However, you can learn more about the different sections at Spec and what the training process is like on at our recruitment website.

Details: This truly is the ideal position for anybody interested in journalism, the media industry, and everything that surrounds it—including the traditional reporting and editing roles and the behind-the-scenes tech, marketing, and revenue jobsroles. Though everyone needs to go through a training process to become a full staff member, you’’ll still be paid as a trainee if you qualify for our work-study program.

Pro tip: Interested in joining us, but not sure which section will be the right fit for you? We made a quiz for that. ;)

Library Assistant

Average wage: Around $13.50 per hour*

Ideal for: Bookish people (obviously); students who don’t mind working alone; first-years with limited job experience.

How can I apply? Columbia students will need to fill out an application in 519 Butler. Barnard students need to contact an administrator in the library department.

Details: Columbia and Barnard’s libraries are two of the biggest work-study departments on campus, meaning that there will be plenty of work-study jobs to go around. As a library assistant, your tasks will generally vary day-to-day, but expect to shelf and catalogue (a ton of) books, work the checkout desk, and prepare/organize other materials. If you don’t mind working alone and being surrounded by the quiet for a good portion of the day, this job may be a good fit for you.

*Note: Average wages are based on jobs listed online as of publication date.

Keep this in mind: These are just five of hundreds of work-study jobs available to you. If you don’t see anything here that particularly piques your interest, ask around. See what information you can get from upperclassmen, email different departments to see what jobs students have done in the past, and don’t completely discount the possibility of looking off-campus.

Tl;dr: Keep your mind open while searching for your work-study job because there’s something here for everybody, and if you have any other questions regarding financial aid and work-study, make sure to reach out to Columbia’s or Barnard’s financial services  offices.


Have any other questions about work-study opportunities at CU? Ask us here, or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Mariella Evangelista is a Spectrum staff writer and a Barnard sophomore. She thinks Spec is the best work-study job around, but then again she might be *slightly* biased. Reach her at 

internships professional work-study first-year
From Around the Web