UC Berkeley students strike balance between academics, part-time employment

work-study eligibility
Karina Nguyen/Staff

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Juliette Franzman, a rising campus senior, said her most memorable day working as a personal protective equipment laboratory assistant at the Office of Environment, Health and Safety occurred when her employer unexpectedly asked her to complete an assignment related to data science.

Working as a laboratory assistant, Franzman had primarily guided scientists to select the correct types of lab coats and eyewear. Franzman said the data science assignment allowed her to connect her job to her studies as an applied mathematics major with a concentration in data science.

Franzman’s work experience has both enriched her understanding of applied mathematics and data science and allowed her to expand other professional skills she would not have had the opportunity to learn through her classes, she said.

“My job was really collaborative,” Franzman said. “As a math major (especially concentrating in data science), you usually don’t have a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other people. My work experience definitely helped me get more comfortable with (that skill).”

Franzman said she was hired for her position after applying for more than 20 jobs through Handshake, a recruiting platform and centralized database of job opportunities offered through the UC Berkeley Career Center.

The Career Center offers resources for students like Franzman who are independently seeking part-time employment, internship opportunities and mentoring programs, said Career Center Executive Director Tom Devlin. According to Devlin, the Career Center also connects students with an extensive network of alumni to maximize their marketability.

“Today’s students are very career-oriented,” Devlin said. “Every student wants two things: They want the best education, and they want to translate that education into a career.”

According to the campus’s work-study website, financially eligible students can find part-time employment through the UC Berkeley Work-Study program a need-based federal student aid program giving students the opportunity to earn money through part-time employment.

During the 2018-19 program year, approximately 9 percent of UC Berkeley students received earnings from work-study positions, according to work-study program analyst Brittiany Juravic. The work-study program subsidizes a portion of participating students’ wages, making them more likely to be hired by employers, according to the work-study program website.

An additional benefit over traditional part-time employment, Juravic said in an email, is that work-study earnings are not counted as additional income when determining students’ financial aid eligibility with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

For all students who pursue part-time jobs alongside their studies, either independently or with the work-study program, time management should be an important consideration, said rising campus junior Rebecca Zeng.

Devlin advises students to understand the expectations their employers may have and make the most of their work experience.

“Regardless of what position students have (through a part-time job), they will acquire skills that they will need for future employment,” Devlin said.

Contact Annie Cheng at [email protected].