When I received my acceptance letter from UC Berkeley, the first thing I checked — aside from the word “Congratulations” — was the financial aid package.
Although I’m lucky enough to say I was pleasantly surprised that I would be able to afford college, I noticed another element included within the offer: Loans and Work-Study.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the revocation of the offer, I didn’t do much research on the various jobs work-study provided, let alone what the program entailed.
However, after now having worked in various departments and facilities, here are some of my biggest takeaways from UC Berkeley’s work-study program.
While this might be the most obvious of the takeaways, I don’t think I really understood how the funding for work-study worked until recently — and judging by how many people ask me “how I got my job” at Doe and Moffitt libraries while on shift, I’m assuming most other students don’t either.
While it is under the Loans and Work-Study section in CalCentral, work-study is simply employment on- or off-campus through which you receive paychecks that neither have to be paid back nor count as “additional income” on financial aid applications.
In fact, students who qualify for need-based loans can convert these offers into work-study. Once qualified, students can search through a plethora of jobs, with multiple offerings available throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters.
During my freshman year, I didn’t really know the types of jobs work-study offered aside from various administrative tasks around campus.
However, after getting acquainted with campus, I’ve discovered a variety of fairly niche work-study opportunities, from web developers to photographers to research assistants.
As an English and media studies major, I’ve found writing and communications positions across various disciplines. Most recently, I’ve held a position as the communications assistant in campus’s Division of Arts & Humanities, where I’ve had opportunities to work with professors and staff on projects related to my field of study and career interests.
Though a full course load may only equate to four hours of actual class time a day, I never realized just how inconsistent my schedule in college would be: With the random hour-and-a-half breaks in between classes, club responsibilities and general duties of life, full-time students typically don’t have chunks of time to devote to a typical work schedule.
For my work-study job as an information desks assistant at Doe and Moffitt libraries, however, the weekday shifts are pretty much designed around campus’s course schedule, in addition to having weekend and evening shifts available.
In fact, some work-study jobs allow for remote work and give students access to campus facilities; so even though Doe Library tragically locked its fourth-floor bathroom balcony, I can still see the Bay Area views from the employee break room next door, which makes getting yelled at by patrons who don’t have their IDs almost worth it.
There are several aspects to UC Berkeley’s work-study program that likely vary across each job’s respective responsibilities. Through my personal experience, work-study has given me the opportunity to pursue multiple industries, hold a manageable schedule and, best of all, get paid.